Gran Maestro Manolo Marin

14 Oct


I’d been wondering who the short, older gentleman with the metronomic compas was who showed up in Manuel’s class last week and stationed himself firmly in the back corner behind me but I wasn’t brave enough to ask him. Manuel solved the mystery by announcing that Manolo Marin would be substituting for him for the following Monday and Tuesday morning classes and indicating said gentleman to an enthusiastic round of applause.

I had been dancing next to a living legend! Later I realised have a connection to Manolo Marin that predates this class since he taught the divine Maria Pages who in turn taught a favourite dancer from whom I have had the pleasure of taking classes with twice before, the brilliant Angel Muñoz. There are always less than six degrees of separation in the Flamenco world!

Marin’s legacy is long and distinguished for his own creative works, his performances and his academy (Manuel Betanzos has taken over a studio that still bears Manolo Marin’s name on the street entrance next door).

Seventy-five-year-old Sevillano Manuel Dominguez Marin (Manolo Marin) is as Flamenco Puro as they come. This is the best in-depth English language interview I’ve found:

In our short time with him he playfully taught us what he called some ‘simple antique’ Bulerias steps, singing all the verses himself as he danced. Of course everything was far from simple for me and he introduced contratiempo almost immediately. I recognised some moves of Joaquin Grilo and Rafael Campallo and wonded how much of the lexicon of Bulerias could be traced back to Marin.

Marin’s stamina in class was astonishing (he went on to teach two more hours of higher level classes) and his range of languages shows how much he has travelled for Flamenco. English, French, Italian and Japanese commands and jokes came equally easily to him.

He changes the lines frequently and likes to position himself between two dancers and hold their wrists as he dances the steps with them. He worked hard and patiently to bring everyone up to the same level and any deficiences in the results were the fault of the dancer alone.

In last last ten minutes we switched to performance mode and he urged us on with cries of ‘Jamon!’ (ham it up!’). When our hour was up he jokingly invited us down under the Triana Bridge on Sunday saying he would pay one euro for us to dance Bulerias for him there. It made me wonder at his experiences when he was just a kid dancing to earn money for his family and dance lessons.

Much as I love Manuel I will be encouraging him to take a long weekend again soon!

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