Back to Basics in Seville: Tientos-Tangos Revisited

16 Jan

Unstinting indigo skies contributed to my general sense of well-being this week. Previous winter and spring visits to Seville coincided with rain and grey skies, hardly uplifting for a solar-powered Aussie.

Tangos class with Eduardo Guerrero plus daily practice and yoga helped too. Lazy feet and legs are toning nicely with an extra kick along from cycling. Edu is eternally good-humoured and his choreography satisfying and well-paced.

Interestingly I discovered toenails are overrated, I certainly don’t need them to dance.

Whether abstaining from alcohol has had any beneficial effect remains to be seen, the jury is still out. I did try non-alcoholic beer (the blue label Cruzcampo rather than the red) at a peña and it helped me feel more like part of the crowd.

The only remaining vice I’ll admit to is a daily cafe americano with breakfast at my local, Santa Ana where the TV is always tuned to back to back shows of Hawaii 5-O. Forgoing that caffeine hit may be a bridge too far. We’ll see. I’m watching the countdown on the small blackboard on the wall behind the bar – 84 days to Semana Santa and 129 to Feria. Eight of nine weeks left for me in Spain.

I’m surrounded by colds and flu. This winter’s influenza strains in France and Spain have been particularly virulent, knocking people out for weeks at a time. Good nutrition, daily vitamin D sessions on the sun terrace (15 minutes exposure of the abdomen is the current recommendation) and plenty of sleep will hopefully bolster my immune system to fight the bugs flying around the studio.

Tiles at my local pharmacy which keeps me supplied with bandaids.

With the help of my bicycle I saw six shows, Casa de la Memoria, Peña Torres Macarena, Peña Niño de la Alfalfa x2, La Casa del Flamenco, and Museo del Baile Flamenco. I’m trying to spread the love around. Seville has countless flamenco venues, seemingly more every year, but only two handfuls of good quality, affordable ones. I find peñas and the new improved Casa de la Memoria to be the best. Peña entry prices are now 6-7 euros and tablao-style shows 18-20 euros.

Dancer Sacarias, guitarist Sergi Gomez and singers Laura Castro and Eduardo Hidalgo at Peña Torres Macarena.

Almudena Serrano dancing to singer Jeromo Segura and Manuel de la Luz on guitar at Casa de la Memoria.

Eduardo Guerrero’s fin de fiesta piece above and below (looking like Cousin It). Apologies but no photography allowed during the performance.

Cristina Hall dancing to Cristina Tovar’s singing at Pena Nino de la Alfalfa.

Lola Jaramillo dancing, Juan Murube singing, Jose Manuel Toledo on guitar and dancer Jesus Herrera palmas at La Casa Del Flamenco. Por bulerias fin de fiesta.

Antonio Heredia on guitar and singer Jonathon Reyes warming up at  Peña Niño de la Alfalfa.Manuela Rios at  Peña Niño de la Alfalfa.Rocio Alcaide at Museo Del Baile Flamenco. The singer is Jesus Flores.

Jesus FloresRuben RomeroDaniel Torres

The standout show was actually my professor’s. Thirty-four-year-old Cadiz-born Eduardo Guerrero’s performance at Casa de la Memoria was unforgettable. I feel I’m seeing him at the peak of his powers. Like the best artists he marries stratospheric technique to inventiveness, elegance and personality with a respect for forms echoing the roots of flamenco. Plus he is a physically commanding presence; tall, slim, chiselled and handsome. The full package. If you can make his show at Teatro Villamarta in The Festival de Jerez on Friday March 10 do!


This week has been all about tientos-tangos. Focussing on this family of four-beat palos is something I should have done a long time ago. Like many people I greedily moved quickly from beginner tangos to feast on bulerias and alegrias without giving tientos-tangos the attention they deserve. Now that I’m studying both in dance and song I am sensitised to listen more deeply to them on Flamenco Radio at home and at shows. It’s a rewarding exercise albeit slow going. That warbling sound coming from the rooftop is my tentative attempts at Tientos de ‘El Mellizo’ and Tangos de Cadiz.I’m pleased to report I’ve found like-minded souls here who share my flamenco fascination. Amongst my classmates is a lovely Englishwoman, D, whose quiet determination inspires me. Then there is the indomitable Cathy from Adelaide, now in her second year of intensive flamenco studies. I have a lot to learn from her. Lastly, I had the chance to meet up again with the astonishingly accomplished flamenco artist, Francesca Grima, ‘La Chica’, who is preparing for an Australian tour with Maltese group ‘Etnika’. As always, observing the hard work professional dancers put into their art is humbling. I listen in awe to Francesca’s and others’ footwork through the practice studio walls and marvel at what the human body is capable of.

The weather forecast for Seville this coming week is for more clear, blue skies and temps 3-13 degrees celsius. Perfect for flamenco!

PS For those wondering where in the world Stuart is, his road trip from Edinburgh to Devon via walks and visits to friends, has gone well and he’ll be making a flying visit to Seville at the end of the coming week.

Post class cup of tea under the bull at Triana Market.

4 Responses to “Back to Basics in Seville: Tientos-Tangos Revisited”

  1. Heather January 16, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    Good to see that the weather has been kind to you when there has been so much bad weather in Europe. Hope it keeps up for Stuart’s visit. Xx

  2. Jacinthe Malo January 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing! Take care

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