An embarrassment of riches

9 Mar

If I had scripted it myself yesterday could not have been more perfect. The meditative walk to Triana to breakfast on strong cafe con leche and tostado con aceite y tomate at Señor Morena’s before Bulerias and Abandalao classes with Andres Peña followed by a quick shower and change for the train ride to Jerez to catch the evening shows. And then it got really good!

Seven o’clock was guitarist Javier Patino’s show with invited artist, Angel Muñoz, and midnight I was in Sala Compañia for singer Jose Valencia and his invited artist, Joaquin Grilo. Right there we have my top three living male dancers, all at the peak of their powers.

Three very different artists but each brings their entire heart and soul to their performance. In the studio we observe Andres in creative mode as he crafts the Abandaloa to suit the intermediate level of our class but several times he broke into steps of such ferocious beauty it made me gasp. Our guitarist, Miguel Perez, joked early in the week that instead of Abandolao we were dancing an ‘Abandonado’ meaning ‘abandoned/forlorn’ as our efforts to mimic Andres were so poor. But when Andres dances he truly does abandon himself to the musical possibilities so perhaps it was apt after all.

Angel was fresh from two months tour of the US with Paco Peña and had just finished teaching class for the Festival thirty minutes before he went on stage but his three pieces, one accompanied only by gentle compas by Javier Patino, were flawless. He has the rare ability to meld power and grace with a faultless internal metronome and a true connection to his audience. His family were sitting three rows back and you could see he danced especially for his wife and young daughters but the rest of us felt included in the joy he transmitted. And when he wasn’t dancing he played cajon like a professional. What a gift!

As is his wont Joaquin’s performance was a combination of carefully choreographed dance and jazz Bulerias, sweating buckets to pound out his crazy remates. I reveal my shallowness when I admit I was quietly thrilled he swapped his usual baggy trousers for tight fitting black jeans and a form fitting shirt. He has the body of an athlete (as do both Andres and Angel) and as I was sitting in the second row I could feast my eyes on his beauty. He has a special relationship with Jose Valencia and you could sense that they were having such fun up there they really didn’t want it to end and nor did the audience with curtain call after curtain call.

Whatever petty annoyances I encountered in Seville last week in the wind, rain, dog shit and pain, they melted away last night. My heart is full of gratitude that in one short day I had the great good fortune to experience gods fallen to earth: Andres Peña, Angel Muñoz and Joaquin Grilo.

I’m reading Parker J Palmer’s ‘Healing the heart of democracy’. He perfectly describes what dance does so well. ‘Art….helps us overcome the fight or flight response. A good poem, painting, novel, drama or musical composition is animated by tension held creatively, making our experience of it a heart and mind stretching encounter. As we enter into a true work of art, it enters into us, giving us a visceral experience of the animating potentials of tension.’

I only wish you all could have shared yesterday’s healing gift of art with me!

(As usual photos are not allowed during shows but I snatched some during the curtain call).








Damajuana performance

Lidia Hernandez, Pasaje Tabanco, Jerez

2 Responses to “An embarrassment of riches”

  1. Tony Fox March 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Sharon, I am jealous. My first experience of flamenco was last May in Seville as you may recall. I haven’t been back to sample again yet but would like to (there is something raw, primeval and ‘out of body’ about it when done well that i didn’t expect). You however who lives on the other side of the world are back again already. Not only that but you catch what sounds like a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience as well. Did you plan this particular evening in advance or were you just lucky that it all came together in this way?

    • Sharon Tickle March 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      ¡Hola Tony!

      Yes, of course I remember you. I did plan the experience in as much as I registered for the classes some time back and then bought the show tickets over the phone when I saw they became available. I didn’t get any confirmation but hoped for the best. Interestingly when I went to collect the tickets last weekend they said there were none for me in the box office. I perservered and lo and behold they were there all the time! A little bit of Spanish, patience and a smile goes a long way.

      You are in the UK right? Well you have the London festival of flamenco in the second half of March with some amazing artists coming so check it out. Hope you can get there and if not Easyjet to Seville is still pretty cheap. Casa de la Memoria has moved and has a bigger, nicer venue with daily shows and great combos.

      So what are you waiting for?!

      Adios for now,


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