Flamenco


Sharon’s Flamenco Performance Journal
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This is a record of performances I’ve seen and all opinions expressed are solely my own. I would be happy to receive corrections and comments. Most performances forbid the use of cameras or video recorders. Whatever photos I can take I generally post on flicker but since 2016 I have opted to post some here.

Madrid Sojourn 19/2-19/2/2016

18 February, 2016, Villa Rosa, Madrid, 9pm

Squeezed in one more tablao and happy I did. Entry was 35 euro. The young cast was dancers: Jose Maldonado, Vanessa Coloma and Immaculada Aranda. Guitar: Yeray Cortes and Singer: Ismael de la Rosa ‘La Bola’.


This was a long show starting with an extended musical bulerias then each of the woman did two dancers interspersed with a guitar solo. Of the female dancers Vanessa was the most appealing. She left it all the stage and I felt she was dancing for me. Her style was muy gitano. I was even more sympathetic once I realised she had a head cold like me.


Nothing however could have prepared me for Jose. He ripped up the stage and met all my male dancer criteria – interesting, athletic choreography, faultless compas, humour and the x-factor, i.e. you never knew what was coming next in his alegria. He literally danced on the edge. Loved him.
Both guitarist and singer are very talented but no goosebump moments. 

    
    
    
    
    
13/2/2015 CASA PATAS 22:30HRS

Another entertaining evening at this venue that has launched so many careers. The 36 euro drink and show per person package is a little steep for the tiny space one has to cram into but let’s just put that down to the experience. I’d just be concerned if there was a fire and you were stuck at the back of the L.
Cast dancers: Amelia Varga, Maria Carretero and Adrian Dominguez, singers: ‘Chaleco’ Manuel Palacin, Felix de Lola and another older man who was not listed on the bill. Guitarist was Jose Arenas.
They began with a group dance, almost a fin de fiesta, which was highly synchronised. Then we had a song and guitar section including bulerias. The first solo dance was Maria’s guajira eith abañico, Adrian did an alegrias and Amelia finished with a solea con bata de cola. The female dancers were strong, Amelia and Maria were both accomplished, but I felt they stayed very much in their comfort zone. Adrian, from Seville, is one of those explosive young men who seem to have one speed and intensity – high. I really enjoyed Chaleco, two duende moments in his singing. Jose Arenas had to work really as the only guitarist with the consequence that his guitar was miked too high and sounded really twangy, at least when he was playing alone.

   
 
Maria Carretara 

 
Adrian Dominguez 

 
Amelia Varga 

 

14/2/2016 CORRAL DE LA MORERIA 20:00HRS
One of the classy touches at this tablao is the printed cast list, with notes on the dancers and on one of the singers, Chelo, in Spanish and English, that one finds on the table. We paid 49.50 euros per person for a drink and show package and as noted in the blog we enjoyed wines and tapas that brought our total spend to 140 euro. Steep for a 90 minute experience.
Cast: Dancers Marco Flores, Claudia Cruz and Jose Manuel Alvarez. Singers: Chelo Pantoja, Luis Moneo, Emilio Florido and Manuel Gago. Guitarists: Jose Almarcha and Antonia Jimenez.
I chose this show because of Marco Flores, Antonia was not listed on the website so she was a huge bonus. It was their final show of the run and being St V Day was packed out. Marco was as wonderful as ever and Jose Manuel was certainly up to the task but not in Marco’s league. We found Claudia a little underwhelming. Like the female dancers the night before she seemed to stay in the zone but expected a lot of applause for not a lot in her alegria con bata de cola. Chela has a huge personality and typical Jerez gitano style but she shouts full volume with microphone which becomes boring. To be honest I enjoyed the male singers, especially Emilio Florido, the most. Even Antonia’s solo didn’t move me as I hoped. Am I becoming hardened? Photos sin flash only allowed in first five minutes which is fair, but the announcement didn’t stop people blatently ignoring that audience rule.

   
   
Festival de Jerez IXX week two February 2105

I had too much fun and worked too hard on my dance to record the shows I saw. Suffice to say it was a surfeit of talent.

Go here for the full festival program http://www.jerez.es/webs_municipales/festival_jerez/otras_ediciones/festival_jerez2/

Madrid Sojourn 14/2-20/2/2015
14/2/2015 PABLO RUBEN MALDONADO
Madrid gave me a Valentine’s Day gift, a sublime event produced by flamenco jazz pianist Pablo Ruben Maldonado, one of several scheduled with various guest artists this month that he calls ‘Flamenco Backstage’. The venue was a large studio in Amor de Dios, the Flamenco and Spanish Dance Centre, which nicely fit a grand piano, four rows of seating in an L-shape, a small bar and still had plenty of room for the dancer, Leilam Broukhim and singer, Eva Duran. For the tiny sum of 13 euros (drink included) I enjoyed ninety minutes with a short interval of tarantos, tangos, a copla sung by Eva, farrucca with Argentinian tango, malagueña, solea and alegria! Pablo can play anything he turns his mind to and I didn’t miss the guitar one beat, moreover he is an engaging presence. The warm, humorous interaction between the three artists was delightful. Eva is a consummate professional. At one point Pablo asked what she would like to sing next to which she replied, ‘I don’t mind’. ‘Perhaps you’d like to sing a copla’ he then said, to which Eva’s riposte (said with a grin) was, ‘It seems I do!’. Leilam was polished and her solea to piano only was surprisingly moving.

15/2/2015 TABLAO CARDAMOMO
I’m working my way round the tablaos and flamenco venues starting with those closest to my apartment in calle de la Cruz. Cardamomo tablao came with a hefty price tag, 39 euros for the ninety minute show (with 15 minute interval) and one drink. Dancers were Raquel Ortega, Noe Barroso, Paloma Fantovo and Cristian Perez. Singers were listed as Cancu (I could not verify this name) and Laura Abadia. Guitarists were David Jimenez and Petete.

I’ll start with what I liked: Raquel is a trooper, 100% effort in her two solos, one featured blisteringly fast castañuelas, and Noe similarly gave us a great solo performance. They are both tall and slim and the stage seemed small for them, plus they were having to dance in two directions as the elevated stage is in the left hand corner and tables run to the three o’clock and six o’clock with a wall separating them. Happily I was in the six o’clock sectionnot too far back. There are many tables with limited view.

Paloma is an unusual dancer (to me). She dancers with a very agressive style much of the time. Can’t fault her effort or footwork, especially contratiempo en silencio, but I never warmed to her. She is the kind of dancer who performs for her fellow artists not the paying public. She wore the same plainish dress the whole show (Raquel had three costumes) and her hair was in a plain ponytail with no makeup or jewelry or adornment of any kind. Strange choice for a tablao dancer. Or maybe she arrived late and forgot her stuff?!

Cristian, on the other hand was smartly turned out, and worked the audience well, ensuring he danced as much to the three o’clock seating as to my area. He is a spinner, turning almost as though he is on ice skates. Dizzying but wonderful.

Frankly I don’t rate the singers based on their performance. They kept haranguing the sound technician to turn their microphones up to the point that there was feedback twice and Laura sounded like a metallic screech. Cancu complained of a sore throat so maybe he should have got a substitute.

It certainly was not an educated or polite crowd. Halfway through the show when David Jimenez began his solo guitar piece people were talking over the top so much that he stopped and asked them to be quiet. One Spanish speaking woman near me arrived late then talked to her date practically the whole show.

I blame venue management as at no point were the artists introduced, I had to ferret out that information, and no one set the ground rules for the audience members. No wonder the punters thought they could behave any way they liked. Oddly there was no fin de fiesta.

17/2/2015 EVA YERBABUENA
‘¡Ay!’ the solo dance show by Eva Yerbabuena was staged at the large, raked theatre within Matadero Madrid, a wonderful exhibition and performance space reclaimed and repurposed as a ‘centre for contemporary creation’ from being a livestock market and slaughterhouse. The theatre was almost full the night I went. I paid 23.75 euros for a seat half way back. Excellent view. I’d seen this show, with musical direction by Paco Jarana, at the Festival de Jerez 2014, but Eva has changed some elements. The spotlight walking entrance, the table that splits and the giant leaning chair are all still there. The performers on the night were slightly altered too from what was published. None of the listed singers performed on my night. The only one I can be sure of was Jose Valencia which I was thrilled about, he sang at the Festival show too. He never disappoints. The guitarist was Paco Jarana, the violinist Vladimir Dimitrenco, and the percussionist Antonio Coronel.

This was a dance marathon, no intermission, only a few pauses when Eva is motionless reclined on a prop and at one point off stage during a voice piece. I enjoyed it more than last time. Eva is inventive and her footwork is second to none. A quibble might be the number of repetitions of movements. Interestingly she never smiles in this show, her face was expressionless or agonised. She smiled during the standing ovation.

18/02/2015 CASA PATAS
This is the tabalo venue I was really looking forward to and it is literally five minutes walk from my apartment. Over the past thirty years countless moments of ‘duende’ have happened in Casa Patas. There is great archival footage on youtube. To choose just one clip here is a fin de fiesta. Paloma Fantova (around 4:00) and David Paniagua (around 5:00) both feature . Casa Patas

Tonight’s show was performed by dancers Irene ‘La Siento’ and David Paniagua with singers Jose Jimenez, Saul Quiros and Antonio Fernandez and the superb guitarist Pino Losada.

My ‘show including drink’ ticket was 36 euros. Excellent value for Madrid. To reach the performance room one walks through the Casa Patas restaurant. Clearly the food and drink are quality as it was full and not all came to see the show.

In contrast to Cardamomo, Casa Patas takes its performance standard very seriously with clear signs about no videoing, no flash photography and a respectful attitude to the artists. The show comprised two 35 minute halves with a fifteen minute interval. The elevated stage sits in a corner position with small, round tables fanning out in front and to the right side but with no visual obstacles. My allocated seat was to the right of the stage only a hand’s width from the edge of the stage. I had confidence in the dancers but at times they came perilously close to me. In Irene’s second solo she stomped so hard that an empty chair vibrated to the edge and fell off stage! The sound system was excellent and I felt the artists, the technician and the management were working as a team to give us a quality experience. The lighting was quite low a lot of the time which helped me make the decision to not take any photos of the dancers during the performance, simply focus on the performers. All the artists were strong and it was especially good to have the three different male voices, young and light to deep and more mature styles.
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Bruce Mason Theatre, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, 8pm, 20 and 21 November, 2013

‘Puerto Flamenco’

The show’s name is the name of this five person touring company from Spain. The lead members are Francesca Grima, ‘La Chica’ (dancer) and her husband Andrej Vujicic (cajon player). The other members of the group on this occasion were Abel Harana (dancer), Inma ‘La Carbonera’ (singer) and Mariano Campallo (guitar).

As the company were not coming to Australia on this trip, (their main reason for being in the southern hemisphere was as invited artists at the Gypsy Festival in Noumea, New Caledonia) I had to travel across the water to see them.

With such a small group the perfect formula is tablao style that showcases each of the artists, as well as choreographing several joint pieces. La Chica’s alegria with bata de cola and manton was elegant and sexy by turn with a charming improvised silencio. Abel astonished with his speed and soniquete. The audience adored him. On both nights I felt my throat catching as Inma’s voice sang of intolerable sorrow. It is a huge ask of a flamenco singer to carry a full show such as this and she did it beautifully two nights in a row. The guitar and cajon solos were virtuoso performances, a pure treat for this flamenco starved fan. Both nights the fin de fiesta was charming, especially Mariano’s little solo. He is clearly gifted like his famous dancing brother and sister!
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Friday 15 March, 2013, 10:30pm Pena Torres Macarena, Seville

In remembrance by the Mendez Family of La Paquera de Jerez

First Part:
Cante: Antonio Mendez, Carmen MendezA, Carmeli Mendez, Mila Mendez
Guitarists: Manuel Parrilla was listed but I don’t think it was him, still checking and Thiago Vasquez
Dancer: ‘El Zorri’
Second Part:
Cante: Jose Mendez
Guitarist: Antonio Moya

The format of having the accomplished amateur singers present first followed by the professional cantaor made for a wonderful night. Each had a very personal style, no one was trying to replicate La Paquera. I especially liked Antonio Mendez for his bright tone and unusual phrasing. The septuagenarian ‘El Zorri’ showed off his old school bulerias and the women danced a little too. After the second part the whole lot got on stage for several more songs and in the fin de fiesta we had some wonderful pataitas from Carmen Ledesma.

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Thursday 14 March, 2013, 9pm, Cajasol Centro Cultural, Jueves Flamenco, Seville
12.60 euros third row centre seat. (30% dance student discount)

‘Giraldillos’

Cante and Mandola: Jose Angel Carmona
Guitar: Juan Requena
Special Dance Collaboration: Joaquin Grilo
Palmas: Los Melli (brothers)

Program
Taranta, malagueña y abandalao
Solea por bulerias
Bulerias
Colombiana
Fandangos
Cantiñas
Bulerias

This show was an equal partnership between Requena and Angel Carmona. Requena started solo and Angel Carmona joined him for the second piece. It was not until the Seguiriyas that Grilo stepped on stage. We had the man in black again but this was a very different dance to what we had seen in Jerez, powerful and emotional. He came back for a brief Cantiñas dressed in white jeans, shirt and scarf and then we had his wonderful Bulerias to finish. It was a fairly short program and no amount of clapping would bring them back.

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Wednesday 13 March 10:30pm, Peña Torres Macarena, Seville
6 euro general entry

Cante: Eva Lebri and Melchor Campos
Guitar: Pedro Sanchez
Dance: Almudena Serrano

It was such a treat to have the two singers, Melchor with his husky gitano sound and Eva’s soulful, smooth voice. I always enjoy Pedro Danchez and on this night he played a really long, intricate solo that must have been exhausting butit was clear he enjoyed himself all evening. Almudena danced a high intensity, pounding Solea. She work right to the very endge of the raise stage and seemed to go into a trance about a third of the way through, almost backing into the Sanchez. Her second dance was an Alegrias de Cadiz with quite a short bata de cola and manton. She had a little trouble a couple of times with the manton, the ceiling is quite low, but it was a great performance. The fin de fiesta involved about five young friends/family members who are of the ‘stomping Bulerias’ school which I don’t enjoy at all.
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Tuesday, 12 March, 9pm, Teatro Central, Seville
17 euro assigned seating

‘Hippytano’ by Diego Carrasco

Cante: Dieo Carrasco
Guitar: Curro Carrasco
Bass Guitar: Ignacio Cintado
Drums: Ane Carrasco
Guitar, Percussion and Voice: Luis Periquin
Percussion: Juan Grande
Backing vocals and Palmas: Maloco, Joselete

At almost 60 Diego Carrasco has reinvented himself professionally several times already and this is the latest iteration of his unique, playful approach to flamenco. ‘Hippytano’ is the name of his new album. It was a family affair as usual but this time all male musicians. There were three percussionists, two flamenco guitarists, a bass guitarist and two singers so there was quite a lot going on most of the time and when Diego stepped off stage to change as he did twice, they kept up the momentum with some great swinging rhythms and a couple of songs sung by Maloco and Joselete. Diego has such a infectious way of interpreting the music and is still light on his feet. At one stage we were asked to join in the palmas and sing along. We did ok with the palmas but the singing was woeful! He had family in the front row who reluctantly went on stage for the fin de fiesta which was amusing, especially the huge man wearing jeans, who lumbered up on stage and then starting a bum wiggle, in tiempo, holding his arse! Should be on youtube!
Monday 11 March, 2013, 10:30pm La Caja Negra, Sevilla
6 euro general entry, beer 2 euro

Dancer: Sonja Naranja y su cuadro
I could not find out the singer or guitarist’s name. I liked the young singer. Very sincere.

Sonia danced a Farrucca. It was good but it was enough for me, I did not stay for the second dance.
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Saturday 9 March, 2013, 9pm Teatro Villamarta, Festival de Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera
37 euro stall seat six rows from the stage in the centre.

‘Federico Segun Lorca’ by the Eva Yerbabuena Ballet Flamenco

Dance, original idea and artistic direction: Eva Yerbabuena
Corps de ballet: Mercedes de Cordoba, Lorena Franco, Maria Moreno, Eduardo Guererro, Christian Lozano, Moises Navarro
Special Appearance: Asime Can Ozozer
Guitar and Musical Direction: Paco Jarana
Cante: Enrique El Extremeño, Jose Valencia, Jeromo Segura
Percussion: Antonio Coronel, Raul Dominguez
Voiceover: Juan Diego

Contributing choreographers: Mercedes de Cordoba, Fernando Jimenez

This was the closing Villamarta show of the festival and it was packed. The program notes said that Eva Yerbabuena would introduce us to the world of Lorca, from his infancy, and to some of the people who inhabited his world during that epoch, such as Dali and Bunuel and who left their mark on the writer. It was a collage of some of his works. Since I had not studied them and only knew of Lorca from wikipedia I was well out of my depth. There were 11 pieces referenced to a poem or play or episode in Lorca’s life.

The staging used a large segmented stone wall with metal grips. Otherwise the stage was bare. The opening segment had the male dancers wearing a kind of modified toga and the women a brown dress and it seemed to be a quasireligious piece of contemorary dance. Eva was positioned by the edge of the wall but not watching. Eva then danced a sombre solo in black that looked tortured. There was one cheerful, peasant/gitano group piece and then a piece for two men. One naked apart from flesh coloured underwear and the other clothed. The clothed man daubed the naked one with bright blue paint (Dali and their love affair?). Then we were back in Lorca’s dark place with a young couple who fall in lust. When the man leaves the girl’s mother and sisters all dressed in black castigate her and the mother throws several buckets of water on her. Eva did another solo and then they were joined on stage by a giant puppet of Lorca. For the final ensemble the corps dressed in red toga type outfits again and they really just walked on and off stage.

The audience gave the show a standing ovation but I wonder how many really understood what was going on? I have since read much more of Lorca and about Lorca and I wonder whether he has become a kind of Andalucian martyr because of his unsolved murder in mid-life. I give him the benefit of the doubt since I can’t claim to really understand his writing in Spanish and I am sure the translations leave a lot to be desired.
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Saturday 9 March, 2013 6pm Damajuana Cafe/Restaurant, Jerez de la Frontera
Free performance

They did not announce the names of the performers and I had never seen any of them before. The singers were two young gitano women still in their teens accompanied with buitar and cajon. They sang mainly bulerias and danced a few pataitas. They were very refreshing and supported by a lot of family in the audience, especially children.

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Saturday 9 March, 2013 2:30pm Bar Pasaje Tabanco, Jerez de la Frontera
Free performance as part of the Festival de Jerez

Lydia Hernandez was the singer but I don’t know the guitarist’s name. She is young with a sweet voice and great presence. It was a really rumbunctious crowd of drinkers, many of them contributing loud palmas.
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Friday 8 March, 2013 Midnight, Sala Compañia, Festival De Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera
20 euro

‘Solo Flamenco’

Cante: Jose Valencia
Invited dance artist: Joaquin Grilo
Guitar: Juan Requena
Palmas: Juan Diego Valencia, Manuel Valencia

I could tell Jose really enjoyed having his own show. He put in 110 per cent. The venue suited his big operatic voice. I was in the second row and it was a little too amplified for comfort some of the time. Joaquin came on after three songs and was greeted noisily by the audience. In all he danced three pieces with one costume change. The first was very choreographed but his bulerias were the typical crazy Joaquin schtick with all sorts and strange contratiempo and broken movements. At one point later in the night he indicated to Jose that his fly was undone which indeed it was! They had a ball working together and Jose loved his multiple curtain calls.
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Friday 8 March, 2013 7pm, Sala Paul, Festival de Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera
20 euro general seating

Guitar: Javier Patino
Invited dance artist: Angel Muñoz
Violin: Alexis Lefevre
Bass guitar: Jose Manuel Posado ‘Popo’

There was a full theatre for this show. I went early and scored a front row seat. Javier Patino has a very calm, relaxed manner and he got on the right side of all the women in the audience when he dedicated the evening to women since it was International Women’s Day. He started solo then brought in the French violinist and bass player. They created a mind of jazz fusion woven around the guitar that was amazing. At times the violin sounded like a flute. Angel danced a piece but I don’t know the palo, maybe Martinete? It was lyrical and strong with a lot of turns that were then stopped and held and he finished in releve with one leg lifted. Quite amazing control. After another song he then joined the musicians and played cajon like a professional. They all seemed to enjoy playing together and the non-verbal communication was great. Angel danced another piece just to palmas by Javier which really showcased his footwork. Altogether a brilliant program.

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Wednesday 6 March, 2013 10pm Peña Torres Macarena, Seville
6 euro entry, cheap food and drinks

Cante: Florencio Gerena
Guitar: Diego Reyes
Dance: Emilio El Duende

This program was publicised as a night of ‘Los Jovenes’, the ‘Young Ones’ and the three main artists were in their twenties, or possibly early thirties in the case of the dancer. I was especially taken by Florencio who seems a very serious, sincere person and an accomplished singer. He dedicated his Solea to his father and brother. Emilio danced twice, a Solea por Bulerias and a Solea plus the fin de fiesta bulerias with a cast of ring ins. He has awesome soniquete and is very powerful. I was sitting right at his feet by the stage so I could see every detail. I just wish there was more light and shade in his interpretation, it is all full on. A young dancer ripped out an amazing, jumping bulerias which I caught a few seconds of on video.
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Tuesday 5 March 2013, 7pm Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville
20 euro general seating, cash bar

Cante: Chieto
Guitar: Miguel Perez
Dance: Rosa Belmonte, Sergio Gonzalez

This was pretty much the same performance I saw last time I watched Chieto and Rosa perform at the Museo but as it is such good quality I was happy with Rosa’s Alegrias con bata de cola and Sergio’s solea por buleria was astonishing for his footwork.
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Monday 4 March 2013, 10:30pm La Caja Negra, Seville

Cante: Rocio Lopez
Guitar: Gori Mazo
Dance: Carolina Pastor, Amada Escudero
6 euro entry cash bar, no food

The advertised start time was 9:30pm so I was not entirely happy to wait an hour for the performance to start. Still it was worth the wait. The cantaor was lovely and after the instrumental start we were treated to a very energetic Solea por Buleria by both dancers. Usually I am not keen on synchronised flamenco and it was the same choreography but the women put their own personal spin on it and it was impressive. They were well matched. I did not stay for the break and part two. I was able to compliment Amada in class next day as she takes all three morning classes with Andres.
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Saturday March 2, 2013, Midnight, Festival de Jerez, Sala Compañia, Jerez de la Fontera
25 euro general seating

Macarena Ramirez ‘Recuerdos’ (Recollections)

Dance and choreography: Macarena Ramirez
Invited artist – pianist: Jose Zarzana
Cante: David Carpio, May Fernandez
Guitar: Pascual de Lorca, Juan Jose Alba
Violin: Emilio Martin
Musical Director: Juan Jose Alba

My Italian friend Vanessa who watched the show with me reminded me that we had seen Macarena dance a Seguiriyas with a black Bata de Cola in the Festival as an invited artist in the last ‘Viva Jerez’ production. I was impressed that Macarena has since worked up this show by herself. The theme was of an elderly woman recalling her youth and how she danced freely, not tied down by domestic duties. A simple theme well executed, especially in the opening scene when the older woman, the singer May Fernandez, sings looking at her reflection in the mirror and what she sees is her younger self. They swap places and Macarena continues to dance. She really is the quintessential flamenca, slim, strong and elegant with a face that looks good from every angle. She gave a faultless performance well suported by the musicians. She reminds me of a younger Rocio Molina without the edge and I look forward to seeing how she develops. Special mention for David Carpio who was singing in his second show of the night. He is such a professional.
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Saturday March 2, 2013, 9pm, Festival De Jerez, Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera
29 euro stall seat front row

Maria Del Mar Moreno Company ‘De Cal Vida’

Dance: Maria Del Mar Moreno
Invited Singer: Tomasa Guerrero ‘La Macanita’
Cante: Antonio de la Malena, El Tolo, Jose de los Camarones, David Carpio
Palmas, Percussion: Luis de la Tota, Ale de Gitaneria
Actress : Maria Duarte
Actor: Nicolas Montoya
Piano: Johanna Raymont

This was an ambitious undertaking by Maria Del Mar Moreno which she mostly pulled off. The first half depicted the struggle of women to transcend their oppression by fate and men. She literally danced out of bondage. The spoken words by Maria Duarte and La Macanita’s singing went straight to the heart. So powerful.

I particularly liked the segment when three of the singers sat in a semicircle and ayed guitar to accompany themselves and then passed the guitar to the next person. Could have done without El Tolo coughing back stage miked up for his entrance.

Without a break we went into the second part with a male choir singing excerpts from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ while an actor dressed a manequin frame with an officer’s jacket. We were deep into the troubled life of the fictional Carmen. Again I have difficulties with adaptations of classical music for flamenco, especially by a French composer. One of the strongest messages she gave in her performance was that you can be a rather large woman and still burn up the floor with a main stage flamenco performance.
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Saturday 2 March, 2013, 7pm Festival De Jerez, Sala Paul, Jerez de la Frontera
20 euro general seating, cash bar outside

Santiago Lara presented ‘Movimientos Nuevos’ (New Movement)

Guitar: Santiago Lara and Paco Lara
Invited artists cantaors: Jesus Mendez, David Lagos
Percussion: Perico Navarro
Palmas: Javier Peña, Rafael Ramos

Guitar afficionados would know Santiago Lara as a ridiculously brilliant guitarist which of course he is. Live he also shows how he achieved close to perfection in his recordings as he spent a long time between songs tuning his guitar, sometimes long minutes. Still it was worth it as his program was impeccable. Starting with his solo then bringing in percussion and palmas he then introduced first David Lagos and later Jesus Mendez. Their contrasting voices made for a rich range of songs and by the bulerias I would have sat and listened to them all night.
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Friday 1 March 2013, 9pm Festival de Jerez, Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera
32 euro stall seating

Rafael Estevez/Valeriano Paños and Company: ‘La Consagracion’ (The Consecration)

Invited artist: Antonio Canales
Special Dance Collaboration: Antonio Ruz
Principal Dancer: Rosana Romero
Dancers: Sara Jimenez, Macarena Lopez, Carmen Manzanera, Veronica Llavero, Ana Latorre, Andoitz Rubal, Daniel Morillo, Jesus Perona, Manuel Ramirez
Cante: Rafael Jimenez ‘Falo’, Sandra Carrasco, David ‘El Galli’, Israel Fernandez

The first half of 45 minutes called, ‘Tierra’ (Earth) was inspired by a novel written by Mario Fuentes. I don’t know the title but the theme was clearly the lives of the working class field labourers, their hardships and joy and their exploitation by faceless, powerful men. I guess there is a contemporary message there. The performance had three movements in this section, all traditional flamenco. The stand out voice was Sandra Carrasco.
The venerable Antonio Canales came on for a flamenco puro cameo which he mostly danced as a male pas de deux which would have been fine except whoever decided on his costume made a terrible error of judgement. His pants were far too short and too low on the hips so that his loose white shirt didn’t cover his pot belly when he raised his arms.

The company was strong and I enjoyed all this section.

After a twenty minute break the second part was their interpretation of the ‘Rite of Spring’ Igor Stravinsky. They used recorded music. Sadly it didn’t work for me. It was repetitious and trite. I wish they would leave dance classics alone. At the end all the dancers bar one succumbed to a violent death at the hands of the faceless men and we were left with one hopeful image of the last free man.
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Friday 1 March 2013 7pm, Festival de Jerez, Sala Paul, Jerez de la Fontera
20 euro general seating, cash bar outside

Cantaor: Ezequiel Benitez
Guitarists: Javier Ibanez and Paquito Castro
Percussion: Carlos Merino
Palmas: Manuel de la Momi, Din de Jerez and Manolete de la Mini

What a wonderful start to my Festival shows with the sublime Ezequiel Benitez singing. He is an angel trapped in a fat man’s body. His tone is so mellow and the emotion natural and restrained. He had a family member on stage to singvwith him, sorry did not get the name, and I was not keen on his exaggerated style.
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Friday 1 March 2013 7pm, Festival de Jerez, Sala Paul, Jerez de la Fontera
20 euro general entry, cash bar outside

Cantaor: Ezequiel Benitez
Guitarists: Javier Ibanez and Paquito Castro
Percussion: Carlos Merino
Palmas: Manuel de la Momi, Din de Jerez and Manolete de la Mini

What a wonderful start to my Festival shows with the sublime Ezequiel Benitez singing. He is an angel trapped in a fat man’s body. His tone is so mellow and the emotion natural and restrained. He had a family member on stage to singvwith him, sorry did not get the name, and I was not keen on his exaggerated style.

The venerable Antonio Canales came on for a flamenco puro cameo which he mostly danced as a male pas de deux which would have been fine except whoever decided on his costume made a terrible error of judgement. His pants were far too short and too low on the hips so that his loose white shirt didn’t cover his pot belly when he raised his arms.

The company was strong and I enjoyed all this section.

After a twenty minute break the second part was their interpretation of the ‘Rite of Spring’ Igor Stravinsky. They used recorded music. Sadly it didn’t work for me. It was repitious and trite. I wish they would leave dance classics alone. At the end all the dancers bar one succumbed to a violent death at the hands of the faceless men and we were left with one hopeful image of the last free man.
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Saturday 2 March, 2013, 7pm Festival De Jerez, Sala Paul, Jerez de la Frontera
20 euro general entry, cash bar outside

Santiago Lara presented ‘Movimientos Nuevos’ (New Movement)

Guitar: Santiago Lara and Paco Lara
Invited artists cantaors: Jesus Mendez, David Lagos
Percussion: Perico Navarro
Palmas: Javier Peña, Rafael Ramos

Guitar afficionados would know Santiago Lara as a ridiculously brilliant guitarist which of course he is. Live he also shows how he achieved close to perfection in his recordings as he spent a long time between songs tuning his guitar, sometimes long minutes. Still it was worth it as his program was impeccable. Starting with his solo then bringing in percussion and palmas he then introduced first David Lagos and later Jesus Mendez. Their contrasting voices made for a rich range of songs and by the bulerias I would have sat and listened to them all night.
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Saturday March 2, 2013, 9pm, Festival De Jerez, Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera
29 euro stall seat

Maria Del Mar Moreno Company ‘De Cal Vida’

Dance: Maria Del Mar Moreno
Invited Singer: Tomasa Guerrero ‘La Macanita’
Cante: Antonio de la Malena, El Tolo, Jose de los Camarones, David Carpio
Palmas, Percussion: Luis de la Tota, Ale de Gitaneia
Actress : Maria Duarte
Actor: Nicolas Montoya
Piano: Johanna Raymont

This was an ambitious undertaking by Maria Del Mar Moreno which she mostly pulled off. The first half depicted the struggle of women to transcend their oppression by fate and men. She literally danced out of bondage. The spoken words by Maria Duarte and La Macanita’s singing went straight to the heart. So powerful.

Without a break we went into the second part with a male choir singing excerpts from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ while an actor dressed a manequin frame with an officer’s jacket. We were deep into the troubled life of the fictional Carmen. Again I have difficulties with adaptations of classical music for flamenco, especially by a French composer. One of the strongest messages she gave in her performance was that you can be a rather large woman and still burn up the floor with a main stage flamenco performance.
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Saturday March 2, 2013, Midnight, Festival de Jerez, Sala Compañia, Jerez de la Fontera
20 euro general eating

Macarena Ramirez ‘Recuerdos’ (Recollections)

Dance and choreography: Macarena Ramirez
Invited artist – pianist: Jose Zarzana
Cante: David Carpio, May Fernandez
Guitar: Pascual de Lorca, Juan Jose Alba
Violin: Emilio Martin
Musical Director: Juan Jose Alba

My Italian friend Vanessa who watched the show with me reminded me that we had seen Macarena dance a Seguiriyas with a black Bata de Cola in the Festival as an invited artist in the last ‘Viva Jerez’ production. I was impressed that Macarena has since worked up this show by herself. The theme was of an elderly woman recalling her youth and how she danced freely, not tied down by domestic duties. A simple theme well executed, especially in the opening scene when the older woman, the singer May Fernandez, sings looking at her reflection in the mirror and what she sees is her younger self. They swap places and Macarena continues to dance. She really is the quintessential flamenca, slim, strong and elegant with a face that looks good from every angle. She gave a faultless performance well suported by the musicians. She reminds me of a younger Rocio Molina without the edge and I look forward to seeing how she develops. Special mention for David Carpio who was singing in his second show of the night. He is such a professional.
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Teatro De La Maestranza, Seville, 14 September, 2012, 8:30pm
La Bienal Program. Assigned seat.

‘La Pepa’

Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras

Direction and Choreography: Sara Baras
Music: Keko Baldomero
Invited Artist: Jose Serrano
Singers: Saul Quiros, Emilio Florido, and Miguel Rosendo
Guitarists: Keko Baldomero and Miguel Iglesias
Percussion: Antonio Suarez and Manuel Muñoz ‘Pajaro’
Plus 14 dancers of the Sara Baras Ballet

The Maestranza is the main music theatre in Seville and this show would fill it three nights running such is the reputation of Sara Baras. ‘La Pepa’ was a production on a grand scale honouring the 200th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution crafted in Cadiz.

My seat was in the centre of the upper circle so I had a helicopter view of the large stage. Without opera glasses I missed the facial expressions and nuances of the performances.

The show was in 11 parts so it was almost two hours long.

1. The war of independence – Martinete
2. Peace, Life, Hope, Serenity – Waltz
3. The Gate of Cadiz – Guajira, zapateado, fandango, seguirilla
4. Musical Transition
5. The Consitutional Assembly 1810-1812 – Solea por Buleria
6. Mission of the deputies to Cadiz – Malagueña
7. Gypsy Village – Tanguillo
8. The Promulgation of the Constitution – Farruca
9. Musical Transition
10. La Pepa 2012 – The monument de ‘La Pepa’ in Cadiz – Alegria
11. Fin de Fiesta – Buleria

Sara Baras is indisputably technically brillant and beautiful dancer to watch as she is slender, shapely and has divine arms and metronomic precision in her footwork. The show was very ambitious but she achieved her vision with gorgeous costuming and music. The only reservations I have were that there was a bit too much gratuitous footwork in places, especially her solos and I did not enjoy Jose Serrano as I had hoped. He dances with a very stiff in the upper body and his left ankle seems rolled out (even from my seat I could see that). The corps were very good and I was pleased to see the Gaditano, Daniel Saltares with the men. The percussion second musical nterlude was much too long for my taste.
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Caja Negra, Sevilla, 12 September, 2012, 11pm
Five euro entry. General seating.

Dancers: Kuky Santiago and Jessi ‘La Kica’
Singer: Manuel Romero
Guitarist: Idan Balas

In just 12 months I’ve seen Kuky and Jessica develop from competent, promising dancers to polished, exciting performers. This is what hard work and talent can do. Jessica danced with great control and nuance but Kuky really blew the crowd away. Unfortunately this was the same night as the huge Camaron homaje at FIBES so the audience was smaller than it should have been. Manuel has a warm, big voice and Idan’s solo was delightful.

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T de Triana, Sevilla, 11 September, 2012, 11pm
Free entry

Dancers: Florencia Zuniga ‘Flori’ and ‘La Armenia’
Guitarist: Fyty
Singer: Cristina Soler

‘La Armenia’ was beautifully dressed and groomed and danced first. She used the space well and improved as she progressed to the footwork section. In contrast Florencia had obviously dressed in a hurry as she had a button missing from her vest and zero makeup. Her Solea por Buleria more than made up for it and the crowd loved her. Cristina is a young, appealing singer and Fyty is always wonderful.
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Another great ‘T’ show.
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Casa de la Memoria, Sevilla, 11 September, 2102, 9pm
13 euro entry with student disount. General seating.

Dancers: Rafael Campallo and Marina Valiente
Guitarist: Juan Campallo
Singer: Jeromo Seguro

I had seen this show before but it is always a treat to see this combination of artists. Rafael in particular was brilliant with a lot of footwork that was new to me.
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Monasterio de la Cartuja, Seville, 10 September, 2012, 10:30pm
La Bienal program – General seating

‘Reciclarte’
Dancer: Ana Morales
Choreography: Ana Morales and Pedro Cordoba
Artistic Direction: Ro Sanchez
Musical Arrangement: Jesus Guerrera
Guitar: Jesus Guerrera
Singers: Miguel Soto ‘El Londro’ and Emilio Florido
Percussion and Palmas: Jorge Perez

Program:
Scene 1 Pura Piel (Naranja) Solea
Scene 2 Madera (Azul) Rondeña
Scene 3 Metal (Amarillo) Seguiryas
Scene 4 Vinilo (Amarillo) Bulerias

The theme of the show, as indicated by the title, was about recycling. Recycling materials and artforms. The interviews prior to the festival focussed on the recycled materials used for Ana’s costumes. A worthy aim but dance is my primary focus and I was disappointed by three out of the four pieces she presented. In addition the bata de cola dress for the first piece added nothing to her dance. It was unflattering.

The stage was set up in a different outdoor area from the Israel Galvan and they had an open air bar! Nice touch.

Only Ana’s Rondeña had life for me, the other three dances left me cold and in the case of the Seguiryas which she danced to recorded music a trifle irritated. She is an accomplished dancer but unfortunately there are so many brilliant and captivating dancers that being accomplished does not cut it. She was supported by such talented musicians and singers I wish she had used them more. I don’t think from the body language and the forced jaleos from the audience that I was alone in my response.

The art created by filming watercolours dropped and drawn from a syringe and projected onto the backdrop was interesting.

The whole show made me wonder if her selection for the festival program was based more on the worthy theme than on merit.
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Monasterio de la Cartuja, Seville, 9 September, 2012, 11pm
La Bienal program – General seating

‘Solo’
Dance and artistic direction by Israel Galvan

When I read that Israel Galvan’ show was called ‘Solo’ I assumed it meant it would be just him performing to music. I’ve seen his idiosyncratic shows live before and always come away amazed and entertained. I realised however when I saw the program that we were in for something unique. The outdoor stage with bench seating on three sides was set before the tall twin ceramic ovens of the old ceramic factory in the grounds of the monastery. The show would be performed totally without accompaniment of any kind.

I also understood as Israel walked slowly, and purposefully, dressed completely in skin tight black clothes and boots, towards the stage why he did not call it ‘El Silencio’. It is impossible to dance in complete silence unless you’re in a vacuumn or outer space… A hooting owl in a nearby tree, wind on the speakers that amplifed the sound of his flamenco boots on the stage, the cough of an audience member (me, but more on that later…).

I was front row and for forty minutes I could not take my eyes off him as he put his body through a thousand precise movements (never repeated more than once) accentuated by percussion on all parts of his body including his teeth! I counted four different palos, there may have been more, and with each his style would change so we could recognise gitano tangos hips, the bull fighter stances in a Farruca and many more.

With the continued effort, like an elite tennis player (well, most Russian women)! he would make small grunting sounds – in compas. There were small snatches of phrases but I could not understand what he said. He never once lost concentration or control.

What was clear to me and every other member of the audience was that this man is above and beyond flamenco. Example: I’ve never seen a moving double turn on the very tip of boots, have you? Not even Michael Jackson or Baryshnikov in their prime could touch him!

My only anxious moment came thirty minutes in when the tickle in my throat turned into a powerful urge to cough. I am recovering from a head cold. Try as I might I had to give in but managed to time the cough for a loud section of choreography. I fear it will still be audible in the soundtrack…

The audience rewarded his unique and awe inspiring effort with a sustained standing ovation. We were still standing and clapping loudly when he humbly bowed, stepped backwards off stage and walked slowly back down the path.

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Plaza de Toros, Jerez de la Frontera, 8 September, 2012, 10pm
20 euros general seating in the bull ring

Fiesta de la Buleria
Dedicated to Juan de la Plata

Part One
Cuadro Flamenco ‘Jerez Por Bulerias’
Singers: Lorenzo Galvez ‘Ripoll’, Jose de Joaquina, Luis de Pacote, Mara Rey, Jose Mendez, Luis Moneo, Tamara de Tane, Juanillorro
Guitarists: Ismael Heredia and Isaac Moreno

I think on large public occasions such as this when big stars are on stage together they dig a bit deeper to impress their compañeros. I am sure that is what happened last night. Everyone was on form but Mara Rey is a particular favourite of mine as she gives 110% and also dances well. Jose de Joaquina was polished and also danced which earns him extra points!

Jesus Mendez then sang accompanied by Manuel Valencia. He performed mostly seated but towards the end he stood, walked away from the microphone and sang tothe audience from the edge of the stage. It was worth gettng there early to have a seat close enough to hear him. Lovely!

Juan Moneo ‘El Torta’ was the last act of the first part. This was the first time I’ve seen him perform. I don’t know whether he’d had one too many sherries before the show or something else but he started off very raggedly and was making lots of wise cracks (most went over my head). Then he settled down and we saw why he has such a big reputation, he is expressive and powerfully emotional in Bulerias mode.

Part Two
Mercedes Ruiz (unusually) first danced a sharp, powerful Farruca with bata de cola with castañuelas accompanied by David Lagos and David Carpio. She changed dresses and returned to dance a long, no holes barred Bulerias. I was wonderful to see her take risks.

Tomasa Guerrero ‘La Macanito’ was the next act. Her voice in Bulerias is so powerful it could peel paint off walls. I enjoyed her very much but it was a bit too much of the same for the first section until she started to vary the letres and danced. Towards the end she sang other palos, frequently leaving the microphone to sing. Her tears seemed real and the audience loved her.

I left at 2:30am, before the last act, Miguel Flores ‘Capullo de Jerez’. My head cold defeated me.

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Real Alcazar, Seville, 4 September, 2012, 10pm
La Bienal Program – General seating

‘Las Huellas’

The Company of La Farruca and the Kathak Company of Anuj Arjun Mishra

The famous matriarch of the Farruca family, Rosario Montoya, took the bold step of sharing the stage with the exceptionally talented Indian Kathak dancer Anuj Mishra. Supporting her was her youngest son, the ‘Young Michael Jackson of Flamenco’, El Carpeta.

With two wonderful Flamenco singers, Pedro Heredia ‘El Granaina’ and Mara Rey and guitarist Juan Requena, we enjoyed a Tangos, Alegria and Solea as well as a long Kathak program. Sadly, there seemed to be some competition but no real fusion of the two styles. El Carpeta was exciting and has grown as a dancer since I saw him last.

Real Alcazar, Seville, 3 September, 2012 10pm General seating

‘Las Idas y Vueltas: Musicas Mestizas’

Flamenco Singer: Arcangel
Viola: Fahmi Alqhai
Flamenco Guitar: Miguel Angel Cortes
Flamenco Percussion: Agustin Diassera
Academia Del Piacere
Soprano: Marivi Blasco
Violone: Juan Ramone Lara
Percussion: Pedro Estevan
Flautas de Pico: Vicente Parrilla
Viola de Gamba: Johanna Rose
Dancer: Patricia Guerrero

It’s a very special treat to see any evening performance in the courtyard of the royal alcazar but this production was even more unforgettable with the bell-like voice of Arcangel projecting from the upper balcony for his first piece. The music was a blend of Hispanic Baroque and Flamenco. Most of it worked well. Patricia Guerrera performed three dances with Arcangel and was beautifully costumed.

The program: Alegrias de Cadiz, Marionas & Canarios, Xacaras & Bulerias, Guaracha & Guajira

T de Triana, Calle Betis, Seville, 3 May, 2012 11pm
Free entry

Singer: Cristina Soler Gago
Guitarist: Idan Balas
Dancer: Alberto Selles

I was too late for the first part with the female dancer but saw all of the second part which consisted of Alberto’s Alegrias, which was at least as good as the evening I saw him perform last year in the same venue on September 29, and a blistering hot fin de fiesta with lots of amazing flamencas like Ana Pruneda and Adi Movdat. It was the perfect way to finish this two weeks in Seville!
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Centro Cultural Cajasol, Calle Laraña, Seville, 3 May, 2012 9pm
18 euro assigned seating (12.6 euro if you show your Flamenco studio class receipt)

Jueves Flamenco: ‘Entre Amigos’

Guitarist and artistic direction: Eduardo Roballar
Singers: Laura Vital and Jose de la Tomasa (substituted for the advertised Calixto Sanchez who was ‘indisposed’)
Palmas and Cante: Manuel Romero and Vicente Gelo
Palmas and cajon: El Chupete
Dancer: Yolande Lorenzo

PROGRAM
Eduardo Rebollar – Malagueña, Solea
Laura Vital and Eduardo Rebollar – Cantiñas, Tangos, Granainas
Jose de la Tomas and Eduardo Reboller – Solea, Siguirya, Inspiracion
Yolanda Lorenzo danced Alegrias con bata de cola
Eduardo Rebollar, Manuel Romero, Vicente Gelo and El Chupete – Bulerias (no voice or dance)

The venue was only about two-thirds full. Eduardo gives his birthdate as 1966 but to be honest he looked a lot older tonight. And whilst most of his playing was marvellous it did sound to me (and please bear in mind I am not a guitar afficianado) like he was struggling to keep in compas. Laura Vital has a rich voice and a very animated style. A pleasure to listen to. Her microphone was not set right though. I love that she looks at the audience much of the time rather than close her eyes like so many do. I am sure Jose de la Tomas is revered but he did not move me at all tonight. I found the emotion manufactured. Yolanda Lorenzo did a fairly basic Alegrias. Perhaps I have just seen too many. Was nice to see Vicente Gelo singing again.
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La Caja Negra, Calle Fresa, 15, Seville, 1 May 2012 10pm
5 euro entry. Some seating but most people stand. Bar service.

Singer: Nane Ramos
Guitarist: Afra Rubino
Baile: Rita ‘La Zafra’
Cajon: ‘El Fumi’

This was my first visit to this venue and I was pleased with the ambience and the quality of the sound and performance. It attracts a fairly young, flamenca crowd and I imagine has launched many a career. Nane is clearly a seasoned performer and I love her no frills approach and caramel voice. Rita was quite nervous in her Solea causing her to smile inappropriately. She was much more relaxed in the Alegrias. Afra seemed to do a fine job and El Fumi on cajon and compas gave solid compas.
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Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville, 29 April 2012 8:30pm
20 euro. General seating.

Singer: Rafael de Utrera
Guitarist: Miguel Perez
Dancers: Carmen Lozano and Lebri

I never miss an opportunity to hear Miguel Perez play live. He is a hero of mine for the love and dedication he puts into his art and his support of emerging dancers. Rafael De Utrera captured my heart in Jerez when he sang with Gerardo Nuñez. He is the real deal. No front, no tricks, just a pure voice and raw emotion – happy and sad. I wish he would hurry up and release his solo album.

Carmen danced an Alegria con bata de cola. This was her second performace in as many hours so I understand she may have been a little tired. Lebri was all personality in his Solea por Bulerias and has some wicked bulerias remate. Great night! The advantage of the second show is that you may get another Bulerias encore if you clap loudly enough! Evening only spoiled slightly by some Italian women with a lot of attitude trying to hog the front row.
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Museo del Baile Flamenco, Seville, 28 April 2012 7pm
20 euro. General seating

Singer: Jorge Canestero
Guitarist: Luis Amador
Dancers: Laura Santamaria and Felipe Mato

My seat was a few rows back so I didn’t see a whole lot of the footwork. It rained very heavily one third of the way into the show which, with the glass roof located over the stage, was a bit distracting.

I came to this show principally to see Felipe as I loved his show at Casa dl Memoria. Oddly the things I enjoyed the most on this occasion were the slow, sensuous Sevillanas he and Laura danced to start the show and the guitar solo by Luis. Luis plays like breathing and with a subtlety even I can appreciate.

Laura wrangled her bata de cola effectively in her Alegrias but she does not have ‘it’ for me. Felipe’s Solea por Bulerias was great with lots of precise fast footwork. Jorge did a Tangos for his solo. This is probably the third time I have heard him sing solo and he has yet to move me although he supports the dancers well.
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Tablao Los Gallos, Plaza Santa Cruz, 11, Sevilla 29 April 2012 8pm
30 euro for a two hour show with no interval and one drink.

It’s general seating. Get there 40 minutes before the show time to get a decent seat. I was front row with four rowdy Italian flamenkitas. This tablao has been running 45 years. All dancers are experienced professionals who dance two shows a night up to seven days a week so they might be excused for the ocasional glazed expression. This was the program I saw. I had to hang around and bother the hard working manager/waitress to get the details so my spelling may be a bit off. They should announce the artists properly.

Happily there is no photography allowed during the show but it’s ok during the fin de fiesta.

Singers were Paco del Viso (see 29/4 blog photo taken after show), Emilio Cabello and Kiko de Alcala. All very different voices and two were great show men.
Guitarists were Paco Pastor and Juan Carlos Berlanga

1. Begoñia Arce: Tangos de Malaga.
Very polished and fast but no feeling.
2. Saraya Garcia: Alegria con bata de cola
Fantastic footwork but she isn’t the right shape for this style. Her Buleria is hot and I would love to see her do Guajira or Colombiana.
3. Tamara Tane sang Bulerias and was marvellous. Great use of light and shade.
4. Guitar solo by Paco Pastor was solid but not special for me.
5. Anam Morales: Seguirya
This was the strongest female dance I thought. She is a joy to watch but she did not seem to connect with the singers – she never looked at them.
6. Hugo Sanchez: Bulerias
This guy reminded my of the way Baryshnikov danced at the same age, that risky macho athleticism – daring to turn faster and more times than anyone else. His crazy gitano Lerias moves have to be seen to be believed.
7. Maria Angeles Gabaldon: Guijira with Abañico (fan)
Very graceful and dextrous performer and she seemed to be having fun.
8. Sevillanas and bulerias por fin de fiesta : great entertainment
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Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, 28, Sevilla 26 April 2012 9pm
15 euro entry general seating

‘La Seguirya’

Singer: Vicente Gelo
Guitarist: Tino
Dancers: Marta Arias and Juan Carlos Cardoso

This was a different kind of show as Juan Carlos did his Seguirya after the cantaor warmed up with Bulerias and for the second dance part, a Farruca, Marta did a small section solo then a partner section with Juan Carlos and he finished with a another solo. Juan Carlos is a fast and furious dancer. Quite astonishing. I don’t think I have seen many men quicker in their turns or more precise in their footwork (maybe Rafael Campallo?). I was disappointed though not to see more of Marta.
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T de Triana (bar-restaurant), Calle Betis, Sevilla 25 April 2012 11pm
Free

Singer: ‘El Trini’
Guitarist: Fyty
Dancers: Francesca Grima ‘La Chica’ and Ana Pruneda

This was the third show of the night but my favourite as these two Flamencas danced their hearts out. As I’ve commented previously, El Trini is one of the hardest working cantaors in Seville and Fyty always supports the dancers 100% so we, the audience, could just relax and enjoy. Ana’s Farruca was fabulous and La Chica managed to pack so much emotion into her performance I just wish I could have seen them dance in a slightly bigger space. The Sevillanas they finished with was a great tribute to this beautiful city.
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Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, 28, Sevilla 25 April 2012 9pm
15 euro entry general seating

‘El Tronio’ (I think it refers to the Flamenco bar of the same name in Triana)

Singer: Vincente Gelo
Guitarist: Raul Cantizano
Dancers: Almudena Serrano and Antonio Molina ‘Chorro’

Vicente has a lighter and higher voice than many male Flamenco singers but he has an effortless, natural style I loved. Nothing was forced and he can run the notes beautifully. Both Almudina and Antonio are wonderfully accomplished performers who just burned the floor with their zapateados. Almudena started strong and then sexy and Antonio is the kind of understated dancer who builds the anticipation and throws in lots of surprises – a bit like Joaquin Grilo.
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Museo del Baile Flamenco, Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, 3, Sevilla 25 April 2012 7pm
20 euro entry general seating

Singer: Chieto
Guitarist: Juanma Torres
Dancers: Rosa Belmonte and Oscar de los Reyes

This a good quality venue but the performances can be uneven. I was most impressed by Chieto. With or without a microphone he can generate such amazing amounts of power and emotion that I embarrased myself crying during the Seguirya. Not a common thing for me. Rosa is so tall and commanding that her style, along with her cheeky enjoyment of her Alegrias con bata de cola, won the audience over. The guitarist was lovely but I don’t have sufficient knowledge to critique his playing. The male dancer has a very beautiful face and wore bright red patent leather shoes, both I found very distracting from the dance. I felt that he didn’t really own his Solea, it was rather skittish. He showed later that he is strong in footwork and wowed the audience but I left unsatisfied.
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La Casa De La Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, 28, Sevilla 24 April 2012 9pm
15 euro entry general seating

‘Jondo’ (Deep)

Singer: Jeromo Segura
Guitarist: Tino
Dancer: Maribel Ramos ‘Zambra’

My hotel, Alcantara, forms part of the same building complex as the performance venue so it couldn’t be any closer! From many previous attendances I’ve learned I don’t have to queue as I can sit on the third step and just stand for the dance parts and get a great view. Last night I shared the steps with some very excited children and enjoyed explaining to them what the format would be.

It’s been more than a month since I have seen any live Flamenco and it was gratifying to get the same buzz from these wonderful performers. Flamenco is a drug I don’t seem to develop a tolerance for.

I’ve enjoyed Jeromo’s singing many times in the past and his opening Alegria was sensitively sung but I do wish he would open his eyes sometimes. Both Tino and La Zambra were new to me. Tino is very good but I did not feel anything but pleasantly entertained during his solo piece.

Maribel is what I call a ‘complete’ dancer. She is slim and medium height so she has lovely lines and chooses flattering costumes plus she can project strong emotions with her face and arms. This she did powerfully in the Caña and then for her Solea por Buleria she was more grounded and earthy with the ‘fat mama’ moves I Iove. Her footwork is sharp and hard – no shortcuts there. A very satisfying first night back at Casa dl Memoria!
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For Flamenco World’s photos, videos and reviews of the 2012 Festival de Jerez go here:

http://www.flamenco-world.com/magazine/about/jerez2012/resenas/resenas.html?PHPSESSID=16dea2a803f98cebf792926df0f9211c

Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 10 March 2012
Stall ticket in included in Festival registration

‘La Mar De Flamenco’ (The Sea of Flamenco) by the Joaquin Grilo Company

Program:
Mareas Que Traen Silencio- Alegrias
Ecos Morunas- Zambra
El Pajaro- Abandolaos and Malagueña
Aprendiendo a Volar- Farruca
Cafe Cantante- Solea apola
Banderillas En El Alma – Bulerias
La Ida Y La Vuelta – Rumba and Colombiana
Punto de la Habana- Cantes de ida y vuelta
Del Marao Al Cielo- Buleria

Dance: Joaquin Grilo and Javier Perez
Guitar: Juan Requena
Song: Jose Valencia and Carmen Grilo
Turkish woodwind and Turkish Mandolin: Bilgin Canaz
Harmonica and Accordion: Antonio Serrano

As this was the closing show of the Festival and a world premiere there were high expectations placed on local hero Joaquin Grilo. His previous Villamarta show, ‘Leyenda Personal’ (Personal Legend/Fable) had been a hit and he was expected to do even better with this one. In the preview interview with the local newspaper Grilo said he got the inspiration for the show while fishing with a flamenco friend and had wanted to collaborate with Ruben Olmo but he couldn’t because of Olmo’s commitments as the new director of the Ballet Flamenco De Andalucia. This to me could explain why there was no real coherence to the overall show even though ‘sea’ was the theme.

I enjoyed the opening two solos. Dressed in a black jacket with manton fringing and slim fitting white stretch shirt and pants he warmed up with two sharp routines. Javier Perez did a very donvincing and athletic ‘naked bird’ solo dressed only in skin coloured tights with huge feathed hands. Grilo then danced a pas de deux with ‘the naked bird’. He’d removed his jacket so you could see every detail of their steps. They mirrored movements in silence and it was engaging but too long. When the ‘the bird’ came on later for a third appearance there was a palpable sigh in the audience.

The rest of Grilo’s pieces were enjoyable, especially the songs set in Havana where he donned a white jacket and white Panama, but he did seem to save his best stuff for the final tribute to the late, great Moraito who was pictured living in the stars with a projection of stars that briefly became a constellation of Moraito’s familiar outline. For that section Grilo appeared at the back of the stalls in spotlight and walked down the aisle to the stage, as if ascending to the sky.

The singers were beautiful and I especially loved Jose Valencia’s powerful, compelling voice.

The standing ovation the company received was easily the longest of the festival and this was the longest show. Grilo was stronger, faster and funkier than ever for me and his sharp white outfit was the icing on the cake. He is still my flamenco Elvis!
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 9 March 2012
Stall ticket included in Festival Registration

‘Utopia’ by The Maria Pages Company

Program: Eight passages
Utopia, Dialogue, Broken Time, Conscience and Desire, Going Together, Red Road, Where we want to live, Altitude

Dance: Maria Pages, Isabel Rodriguez, Eva Varela, Maria Vega, Jose Antonio Jurado, Paco Berbel, Ruben Puertas
Song: Ana Ramon, Juan De Mairena
Guitar: Ruben Lebaniegos, Jose ‘Fyty’ Carillo
Voice, guitar: Fred Martins
Cello: Sergio Menem
Percussion: Chema Uriarte

Concept, artistic diection and choreography by Maria Pages except the Farruca which was choreographed by Jose Barrios.

Lyrics by Charles Baudelaire, Mario Benedetti, Miguel De Cervantes, Antonio Machado, Larbi El Harti, Pablo Neruda, Oscar Niemayer.

Music and arrangements by Ruben Lebaniegos, Fred Martins, Isaac Muñoz, Jose ‘Fyty’ Carillo.

This show was mounted in collaboration with the Niemayer Centre.

When I hear of the Brasilian architect Nieymayer I immediately think of Brasilia – that bureaucratic graveyard of cancerous concrete structures in a flat greenness hewn from the Brasilian jungle rather than a Utopia – but it was refreshing to hear the gentle cadences of Brazilian rythms and lyrics for the opening and closing parts of this show. As a company performances this was the most ambitious and successful of the Festival for me. Pages wove her solos into the ensemble pieces, appearing in silhouette.

Her young company dancers are extremely competent, especially the men. The costumes, as you would expect from Pages, were interesting and quite different. The grey of the opening set created interesting patterns with the lighting and the later layered clinging red and green the company wore were lovely. For the her farruca she wore only black leggings and a black top so you could see every movement which makes it much more engaging. The most striking costume was Pages red dress she wore for her barefoot solo with expansive layers of skirt she used to create whirls of red as she twirled it around and over her head and body.

The only thing that was not entirely enjoyable was her final solo dance which was with bata de cola. She seemed to struggle at some points which was a shame as she had been so strong up until then.

The singers were wonderful, especially Ana Ramon. She deserved her standing ovation.
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Sala Compañia, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 8 March 2012
General seating 25 euro ticket. I was in the second row one in from the aisle, perfect for seeing facial expressions and footwork.

‘Extremo Jondo’ by Fuensanta ‘La Moneta’

Dance: Fuensanta ‘La Moneta’
Song: Miguel Lavi
Guitar: Luis Mariano
Percussion: Miguel ‘El Cheyenne’

As with Mercedes Ruiz, ‘La Moneta’ was given two evening Festival shows, one on the night there was no Villamarta show. Last night she lost a shoe mid-dance but carried on until she could go off and change. It’s hardly surprising she breaks shoes, she dances like a fury. Or as she puts in the programs notes, like she is in the trance of deep song.

Certainly this was a tour de force show by a gifted dancer. She was on stage for all but one unaccompanied voice solo. We saw the full range of emotions from playful to distraught and her footwork was lightning fast and strong.

She premiered this show in Granada, her home town, in 2010 and a DVD of the show was on sale tonight so she has had plenty of time to polish it. The only issue for me was that I was not at all moved by the singer so whilst I am in awe of ‘La Moneta’s’ ability I could not connect fully with the music.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 7 March 2012
Stall ticket included in Festival Registration but I swapped seats with Stuart and sat nine rows back in stalls dead centre.

‘Tauro’ (Taurus) by Manuel Liñan

Program:
1. Madre Tierra (Trilla, cantes de labor y temporeras)
2. Entre Las Cuerdas (Granaina)
3. Paseo De !os Tristes (Taranto)
4. Ni Contigo Ni Sin Ti (Sonetas del amor oscuro – cabales y abandolaos)
5. A Puerta Gayola (Solea por bulerias y romance)
6. Elegi A Granada (Zambra, Fandango de Albaicin, Alborea La cachucha, Tanguillo de flor, La Mosca Soleares de Arca) an homage to Chata ‘La Jampona’

Dance, choreography and artistic direction: Manuel Liñan
Company Dancers: Guadalupe Torres, Vanesa Coloma, Cristian Martin
Musical Direction: Luis Mariano
Guitar: Antonia Jimenez, Luis Mariano
Song: Inmaculada Rivero, Mercedes Cortes, Matias Lopez ‘El Mati’

The program notes state that a large portion of the show is dedicated to the music, dance and poetry of Liñan’s home town of Granada, and especially the poet Lorca. Liñan employed almost the full range of props – baston, manton, bata de cola, casteñuelas and pulled out all stops in his solos. There was inventive use of strips of fabric stretched from the ceiling to the floor as the dancers wove themselves into the material in the 2nd piece and in the 4th piece Liñan danced a moving pas de deux with Martin. This was the first gay male flamenco partnering I have seen. Liñan does not seem to require the company dancers to dance exactly the same when executing the choreography which is more interesting for me. They have their own styles. Martin’s style is extremely classical extended and controlled which is a good foil for Liñan’s fluidity.

Apart from a sound problem with Inmaculada Rivereo’s microphone at one stage the singing was wonderful. ‘El Matl’ must be a favourite as Liñan used him in the Seville show too. The guitarists did not seem taxed and at one stage Liñan chose to use pre-recorded guitar for his solo.

In this, his first major solo show at the Festival, Liñan’s performance was almost flawless. He lost his balance on the second kneeling turn in one sequence but found an opportunity in a later solo to do a run of kneeling turns which he nailed. The Villamarta crowd rewarded Liñan’s show with an immediate and extended standing ovation.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 6 March 2012
Stall ticket included in Festival Registration

‘Made in Jerez’ by Gerardo Nuñez

Guitar: Gerardo Nuñez
Second Guitar: Manuel Valencia
Dance: Alfonso Losa
Song: David Carpio and Rafael de Utrera
Double Bass: Pablo Martin
Percussion: Angel Sanchez ‘Cepillo’

What a joy this was from start to finish – the whole hour and 45 minutes. Local boy done well and loving being home with some great mates who are also awesome performers, every one. I dig the swing Nuñez is able to put into his music and the ebb and flow of the pieces. Alfonso Lonso did some all too brief dance interludes before coming back for a longer Bulerias piece at the end. His style is along the lines of the Farrruco family – explosive and exciting. While Nuñez took a break it was fun to see the percussionist playing the double base as a drum with the double base player plucked out a hook and looped it. Utrea was a wonderful surprise to me with his piercing, sweet voice. I can’t wait to hear him again.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 5 March 2012
Stall Ticket included in Festival registration

muDANZAs BOLERAs 1812-2012

Dance:
Francisco Velasco
Penelope Sanchez
Elena Miño
Daniel Morillo
Myriam Manso
Sergio Bernal

Recorded music

Original idea and artistic direction: Sharon Sapienza assisted by Rocio Coral

Taking the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Spanish constitution as an opportunity to recreate Spanish dance pieces loosely woven around a dance company plot sounds like an interesting concept but you really have to like Boleros and castenets to sit through an hour and thirty minutes of it, espevially when there is no live music. All the dancers were wonderfully talented, especially Velasco in his ‘drunk’ dance, and the two young men in their duet which had them in the air more than on the ground.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 4 March 2012
Stall Ticket included in Festival registration

‘Vinatica’ by Rocio Molina

Dance, concept, choreography, musical and artistic direction: Rocio Molina with additional musical direction by Rosario ‘La Tremendita’
Song and Mandola: Jose Angel Carmona
Guitar and original music: Eduardo Trassiera
Palmas and Compas: Jose Manuel Ramos ‘El Oruco’

Rocio Molina performed this in Seville in 2010 so some of the shock value may have worn off for others but for me it was a revelation. With the themes of an artwork depicting the Tower of Babel and wine drinking she had a broad canvas to play with. From the first moment when we realised she was onstage from the time the audience started to drift into their seats we knew we were in for something different. Rather than say too much I urge everyone to see it for themselves on youtube or live. Molina has complete control of her body and uses it in ways that are dramatic, comical and often risky. She takes the dance vocabulary and rhythms of flamenco to another galaxy.
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Peña Buena Gente, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Fontera, 12:30am 4 March 2012

This was the worst organised peña event I have been to. They kept the front two rows for the ‘the President’s family’ and then three of the chairs were used for coats while many of us who had been there for 45 minutes waiting for the show to start stood the entire time. The regular dancer did not show so someone in the audience was given shoes and a skirt they pulled from a bag on the side of the stage. A drunk man came in and sat in the singer’s chair. The singer was late. Happily the drunk was not the singer but he stayed close to the stage and yelled loud jaleos far too much. There were probably 150 people trying to cram into a venue that could only comfortably hold 50.

But……when the performers finally got going they were highly entertaining. I didn’t stay for the second part.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm, 3 March 2012
Stall ticket 25 euro

¡Viva Jerez!

Program: Seven scenes – The Essence Of Memory
Scene 1. On a street
Scene 2. A table, a chair
Scene 3. A bottle, some glasses
Scene 4. A mirror
Scene 5. Suitcases
Scene 6. Long live Jerez!
Scene 7. And long me!

Invited artists: Dance – Antonio El Pipa, Song – La Macanita and Jesus Mendez
Special collaboration (and dance): Juan Parra
Participants: Dance- Ana Maria Lopez, Macarena Ramirez
Song: Londro, David Carpio, El Pescailla
Palmas: Luis de la Tota
Others: La Bastiana
Choreographic coordination (and dance): Javier Latorre

This is the third iteration of ¡Viva Jerez¡ with a different cast and choreography. As a spectacle it was successful but not riveting. Antonio El Pipa seemed to do much the same as in his show ‘Danzacali’ with the Bulerias his strongest piece. La Macanita was very theatrical, a big presence who received a good response from the audience. They took a while to warm to Macarena Ramirez’ dancing but she won them over in the end.
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Peña Las Cernicoles, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 1:30am 3 March 2012

By the time I got to the peña following an after show celebratory dinner this upstairs large peña was heaving with people. A real fire trap. I climbed up on a screen support and craned my neck to get a partial view of the stage and caught the last two dance solos and some of the fin de fiesta. I don’t know which dancers performed but they were a credit to the art and the audience enjoyed them hugely.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 2 March 2012
Stall ticket included in Fesial registration

‘VORS Jerez Al Cante’ (Very Old Rare Sherry is the appelation given to the most extraordinary of the limited edition thirty-year-old sherry produced in Jerez so the title plays on the fact that the individual careers of these Jerez masters of Flamenco singing typify exceptional quality and authenticity.)

Song:
Manuel Moneo
Fernando de la Morena
Luis El Zambo
Capullo de Jerez
Juan Moneo ‘El Torta’
Manuel Agujetas

Guitar:
Perequin Niño Jeo
Diego del Morao
Fernando Moreno
Barullito

Compas and Palmas: Manuel Soto ‘El Bo’, Juan Grande

Artistic Direction: Alfredo Benitez, Jose Maria Castaño, Gonzalo Lopez

It’s rare to have an entire Villamarta Festial evening devoted to male voice and this joint performance by six grand masters who had never shared a stage together before was much anticipated. I’m told they come from the two different flamenco barrios in Jerez; San Miguel and Santiago, with quite different flamenco traditions even though they are in the same city. Interestingly the printed programs had only five singers listed but by show time the famous gitano (gypsy) singer Manuel Agujetas had joined the line up.

I think the loss of two greatly significant Jerez artists in quick succession, Terremoto and Moraito, prompted this show. Certainly they referenced their passing several times (some have family connections) and we saw two large portraits of them in the finale.

Far from being a solemn occasion they spent much of the time on stage acting like naughty school boys. I pitied the artistic directors (who were visible much of the time in the wings) as they had to be cued and shepherded throughout the evening. The show was also an homage to Jerez/Sherry so the bottles on the table they were drinking were probably the real thing.

I enjoyed this show immensely. My week one seat is the last row of the stalls on the far right and with no one behind me and empty seats around me (many students leave to travel home Friday night) I could just lean back and let the sound wash over me. I even did a little soundless compas since I knew I would not be disturbing anyone!

Everybody has favourites and mine on the night was Manuel Moneo with his big, beautiful sincere and soulful voice. Capullo was entertaining and Agujetas had lots of attitude but Moneo was on the money for me.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 1 March 2012
Stall Ticket included in Festival registration

‘Pastora’

Dance: Pastora Galvan
Guitar: Ramon Amador
Song: Cristian Guerrero, Jose Valencia
Palmas, Compas, and Dance: Bobote
Concept, Choreography and Musical Direction: Israel Galvan

I could not bring myself to comment before now as I was quite conflicted by this show. My main concern is the credits. In every publication I have read sole artistic credit is accorded to Israel Galvan. For a self titled work I therefore do not know what Pastora Galvan contributed beyond the performance on the night. Obviously she had input and she, like her brother would have been hugely influenced by their father, the renowned dancer Jose Galvan, but since she is not credited it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Having seen Israel Galvan dance in the same place two nights before it was easy to see his work in her rhythms and steps.

With that off my chest I can now say I enjoyed 70 per cent of the show. Perhaps if I had more context I would have understood more. The opening two long pieces were a parody of Triana, Seville-style peña dancing by the chubby grandmas I saw regularly who would leap up in their jiffy slip ons to pound out a Buleria full bore. In the course of the show Galvan interspersed commentary with Seville-style dance with bata de cola and manton which were a homage to previous generations of bailaoras. Much of it showcased her incredible musicality but I felt the footwork got quite ponderous. Maybe it was meant to be? I guess as I had just seen Mercedes Ruiz which may have influenced me.

Bobote provided great support and had his moment in the spotlight dancing Bulerias. The musicians were marvellous but nothing stands out in my memory of their performance.

The audience took a while to warm to her but by the finale they were on their feet and shouting.
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Sala Compañia, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 7pm 1 March 2012
25 euro general seating

‘Baile De Palabra’ (can mean the dance of promise/speech/word)

Dance and choreography: Mercedes Ruiz
Song: David Lagos
Guitar and Musical Direction: Santiago Laura

Mercedes Ruiz is the only performer to my knowledge who has given two Festival shows this week. On the Wednesday nights of the Festival there is no Villamarta Show so that performance of Ruiz’ show sold out quickly. I saw the second. I was told there were problems with the sound of the footwork on the floor the first night. That was rectified on the second and for me the performance was almost flawless. I am used to seeing her dance dark emotions, such as in her stunning Farrucca, so it took some time to adjust to the opening dance of pure flirtation and sensuality. She certainly speaks with her body, especially her arms and shoulders.

The other three dances built in complexity and for sheer technical difficulty this performance, where she used baa de cola (long tailed skirt) and manton (shawl) and bata de cola with casteñuelas (castenets), had to be the most ambitious. To be able to revert to very controlled, complicated castañuela rhythms after such vigorous dancing shows her mastery.

This was also to first show that had my tear ducts working from the first few notes of David Lagos’ singing. The timbre of his tenor shoots straight to my soul. Santiago Laura was a joy too and the whole flow and staging of the show was seamless as we went from dance to unaccompanied song to duets. Ruiz’ costumes were also a highlight of the Festival to date. The white satin dress with bata de cola was so tight you could clearly see her belly button! The icing on the cake were the three curtain calls when they used the brief blackouts to pose in a freeze frame of three different formations.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 28 Februay 2012
Stall Ticket included in festival registraton

‘De Flamencas’

Dance, Choreography and Artistic Direction: Marco Flores
Dance: Guadalupe Torres, Lidon Patiño, Esther Jurado
Song: Mercedes Cortes, Inma Rivero
Guitar: Antonia Jimenez, Bettina Flater
Palmas and Dance: Ana Romero

Fandangos and Nana choreographed by Olga Pericet
Costumes: Olga Pericet

Program:
Mariana, Tientos, Tangos
Liviana, Serrana, Fandango, Cantiñas, Granaina, Malagueña
Nana, Solea, Romance

This was the most satisfying show I have ever seen. Not just in this Festival but ever.

Flores called it ‘De Flamencas’ because he created it around the individual and combined strengths of the eight women he generously shared the stage with. From the first piece, an elegant ensemble beautiully lit, he alternated between solos, duets and ensemble pieces that allowed every performer to shine. Flores’ solos were scintillating. He has the skill of making everything look easy but you know as he builds on the complexity and ups the tempo that he is dancing on the edge of what is humanly possible. On top of that he has wonderful staging, musical and lighting sensibilities. And he’s got great sense of humour.

All the female dancers were gorgeous. It wouldn’t be fair to single anyone out, they were all allowed to dance to their strengths. The only issue they encountered was that Inma Romero’s microphone failed two thirds into the show but she just sang more powerully and the audience responded with loud ‘Ole’s’.

Antonia Jimenez is a brilliant guitarist but a terrible dancer. After a long standing ovation Jimenez was urged to dance in the fin de fiesta and looked like an electrified black chook. It is possibly the first time that both guitarists at a Villamarta spectacular were women.

My only wish is that I could go and watch the entire show again.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 27 February 2012
Stall Ticket included in festival registration

‘La Curva’ (‘The bend/curve/turn/crook/crease’)

Dance, musical and artistic direction: Israel Galvan
Piano and musical composition: Sylvie Courvoisier
Song: Ines Bacan
Compas: Bobote

No one who has ever seen Israel Galvan perform is indifferent to him as an artist. They either walk out or say politely they don’t care for his style. The usual reason given is that he is not ‘flamenco puro’. Those like me who think he is a lunatic genius, the savant of flamenco, would walk on hot coals to witness a new piece by him.

This work is a collaboration with the Theatre de la Ville, Paris, and is inspired in part (according to the program notes) by an avant garde jazz dance piece created by Escudero in 1924 in Paris. I don’t know that piece but the marathon of originality Galvan unleashed on the audience tonight was shocking in the best sense of the word.

He began in silence with all performers on stage. As if to announce that he was toppling expectations he pushed a stack of about 20 alumnium chairs over into the wings and then carried one back on stage.

The man is tall, extremely lean and ultra fit. Think of the shape of the traditional Pierrot. Wearing skintight black pants and shirt with a thin white scarf, white boots and a tan leather jacket that reached his thighs he used his arms, hands and soles of boots on the floor and his body, especially the jacket, to create rythmic sounds. All while contorting at high speed. Then with piano and compas accompaniment he built up even more rapid movement all with impeccable control.

Ines Bacan then sang an a capella solo that reached right inside me. I thought it her best of the night. None of her songs were noted on the program so I don’t know what it was but it broke my heart. Sylvie Courvoisier is a consummate pianist and as the evening progressed she used more and more unusal techniques to create cascading melodic and sometimes jarring passages. Reaching in to pluck strings and using her finger nails to create tapping sounds interspersed with notes, the rippling effect was hypnotic. Bobote’s role seemed to be to accentuate the beat and urge on the other performers.

In the course of the performance Galvan danced on and under a table, performed an amazing routine on a 2m by 4 metre board, danced with a wooden chair around his neck, created another persona and had a conversation with him (along the lines of, ‘The public is death’, ‘Death is the public’).

Towards the end he took off the jacket and used huge amounts of what looked like chalk dust he’d carried in on drum skin to deaden the sound of his taps and with the dust rising as he kicked and twirled it evoked Aboriginal dancers I’ve seen in Australia and North America.

He did the final piece without boots. Diving and rolling in the chalk dust what was black became white. He was clearly mocking traditional flamenco steps as he did a brief duet with Bobote.

The performance received a standing ovation and three call backs. Not bad for for ‘flamenco no puro’. Galvan is certainly well ahead of the curve!
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 26 February 2012
Stall Ticket included in festival registration

‘Ensayo Flamenco 2012’ (Flamenco Essays 2012)

Song and Musical Direction: Carmen Liñares
Dance: Belen Maya
Guitar: Salvador Gutierrez, Eduardo Pacheco
Piano: Pablo Suarez
Percussion: Antonio Coronel

There were two supporting female singers who also did compas but they were not credited in either program.

As a German acquaintance pointed out to me it is unusual for song to be the dominant element of a Villamarta show and doubly unusual for both the singer and the dancer to be female. Carmen Liñares is however a grand dame of flamenco singing at age 61 and her invited artist, Belen Maya (who Liñares said she has known since she was a child) also has a deserved reputation as an inventive, skilled bailarina.

The show was in concert format with 11 songs, starting with only grand piano accompaniment for the first few. Linares said that by the ‘Essay’ approach she wanted to create a time for original musical moments that are unique and unrepeatable. She takes a lot of musical risks which is very admirable when she could rest on her laurels.

Maya danced twice. The first time with a bata de cola. Using evocative upper body work she gave the impression she was struggling against constraints imposed by the skirt and with herself. The second piece, the final song, was a more traditional flamenco style. She started with unaccompanied soniquete, but she again exaggerated flamenco movements to show how rote they can become, and quite void of meaning.

My favourite pieces were #3: Mis Ojos Sin Tus Ojos (My Eyes Without Your Eyes) with lyrics by Miguel Hernandez, #8 Moguer (A town in Huelva province) with lyrics by Juan Ramon Jimenez and #10 Bulerias Lorquinas with lyrics by Federico Garcia Lorca.

Liñares gave an encore of an a capella rendition of a patriotic Andalucian song in honour of the provincial holiday this week.
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Peña Antonio Chacon, Jerez De La Frontera, 12mn 25 February 2012
Free entry as part of the Festival program

Singer: Manuel Monito
Guitar: Manuel Romero

Both performers are from Jerez.

This is a large peña walking distance from the town centre. I had a front row seat. By the time the show actually started at 12:30am it was bulging. They had publicised that Davinia would be dancing and I checked at interval when they confirmed she would dance two solos but in fact the only dancing was the fin de fiesta bulerias. No complaints though as it was a full throttle performance by Monito of a wide range of material and they performed until 2:30am.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 25 February 2012
Stall seat assigned by the Festival as part of the class and show package. Mine was the last row last seat on the side so not ideal but just happy to be there with my opera glasses.

‘El Aire Que Me Lleva’ (‘The Air That Lifts Me’)

Dancers and Choreography: Andres Peña and Pilar Ogalla
Singers: David Paolomar, Londro, Jesus Bienvenido (Tango and Milonga), Esther Weekes (‘I got rhythm’)
Guitarists: Ricardo Rivera, Javier Patino
Piano: Alberto Miras
Saxophone: Antonio Lizana
Trumpet: Lipi Calvo
Percussion: Javier Catumba
Musical Guidance: David Montero
Assistance with Direction: Belen Maya

This was a much anticipated world premiere as its been three years since their last Jerez spectacular and to give them the first Saturday night slot must have raised expectations, and the pressure, even higher. I have to declare as a loyal student of Andres and admirer of Pilar that I came to the performance willing them to do well. Andres said in pre-show interviews that they were not trying to do ‘Swan Lake’, they just wanted to show the air currents, winds and influences that lift and carry us through life including the sweet, sad, happy periods.

This was the program:

Levante: Farruca-Seguiriya-Solea (Andres and Pilar duet, she wearing short skirt and Andres in shirt and tie followed by Pilar’s solo and two intense solos by Andres.)
Sudestada: Milonga-Tango argentino bor bulerias-Tango a lo argentino (Literally moving southeast the Argentinian influence was sensual and light. I adored Pilar’s flirtatious bata de cola sola with abañico/fan.)
Santana: Ranchera-Fandango jarocho-Fandango de Huelva
Viento Norte: Cancion-Martinete (This was the North American influence with Andres breaking his own rules and ripping into a full bore tap piece ‘I Got Rhythm’ from ‘An American in Paris’ complete with pork pie hat and long scarf. It was a great rendition. He still had flamenco shoulders but who am I to criticise?!)
Poniente: Tientos y tangos-Cantiña y bulerias (Back to western Spain’s Flamenco roots just to show us they can do it all. Andres is the master of Bulerias (as I witnessed firsthand in class for three months) so this was a real treat.

Overall the show was a hit and they received a unanimous standing ovation. My only suggestion would be for them to check the lighting from all parts of the audience seating in future venues as it was too low sometimes when they used spotlights.
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Sala Compañia, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 7pm 25 February 2012
21 euro general seating

‘Desde La Orilla’ (‘From The Edge’)

Dancer: Karime Amaya
Singers: Paul Levia, Amador, Joaquin Gomez Contrera, Rubio de Pruna
Guitarists: Justo Fernandez Heredia ‘El Tuto’ (Invited artist), Tati Amaya
Percussion: Juan Cristobal Sanchez

The resemblance to her great (in all senses of that word) aunt Carmen Amaya is striking in the face and posture and Karime references her frequently in her steps and costuming, but this is no copycat show. This cat is much more sophisticated. The title was a smart choice as one sensed Karime felt she was crossing a boundary by coming to Jerez and taking this next leap in her career trajectory. Also the choices she made choreographically were brave. As she grew up in Mexico (that branch of the Amaya family stayed on after a tour) and studied in the states and travelled for her art Karime probably feels like she is always crossing boundaries to grow.

She began with a striking Seguiriya in a red fringed figure hugging dress that showed she is more curvacious than her great aunt. Annoyingly the cajon overshadowed her footwork for the first section but we had plenty of opportunity later to enjoy her clear, rapid zapateado. Both in time and contratiempo she seemed determined to demonstrate that she was not trading on the name, she has the goods.

The second piece was an alegrias which she danced in black, skin tight high-waisted pants and a white and black bolero jacket and black and white ruffled shirt (a la Carmen). This was more fun as she was warmed up and nailed her multiple spins.

The guitar solo that followed was gorgeous and gave us time to digest what we’d just witnessed. Of the singers whilst all were wonderful, I enjoyed Rubio De Pruna the most.

Her final piece was a solea por bulerias for which she wore a simple black stretch velvet dress and shawl. Now she pulled out all stops and ran well over time as she seemed determined to let off every firework she had in her basket. A one point she was right in front of me (I was second row) and I felt like she was exploding/dancing just for me. The audience loved it and she received a standing ovation. Sadly the auditorium was only two-thirds full.

Karime then addressed the audience in Spanish briefly, saying what an honour it was to perform in Jerez for the first time (I will upload the clip). The fin de fiesta was the usual goofing around in high spirits.
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Teatro Villamarta, Festival De Jerez, Jerez De La Frontera, 9pm 24 February 2012
25 euro stall seat

‘Metafora’ by Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia.

Direction and choreography: Ruben Olmo assisted by Rocio Coral
Soloists: Patricia Guerrero and Eduardo Leal
Corps: Sara Vasquez, Ana Agras, Marta Arias, Monica Iglesias, Maise Marquez, Juan Carlos, Cardoso, Angel Fariña, Fernando Jimenez, Alvaro Paños
Singers: Fabiola, Manuel ‘El Zambullo’
Guitarists: David Carmona, Manuel de la Luz
Percussion: David ‘Chupete’
Cordoba Symphony Orchestra
Invited Artists: Rocio Molina and Pastora Galvan

This company spectacular opened the two-week 2012 Festival. For me it was a good choice as the depth of the company, including the newish Director Ruben Olmo, plus invited artists Rocio Molina and Pastora Galvan, gave us a good two solid hours of high quality entertainment. I don’t usually rave about synchronised dancing (too much like competitive synchronised swimming) but many of the pieces were excellently choreographed providing continuous variation with impeccable control. I saw only one slip by a male dancer in the second half – arm up when everyone else’s was down.

All the music was impeccable. I especially loved Fabiola. Lighting and the minimalist staging were effective.

They opened with the male corps who set the standard for the show then the six female dancers performed a wonderful Alegrias with bata de cola and manton (long skirt and large shawl) which was billed as an homage to Matilde Coral. Pastora Galvan joined for an inventive and sensual solo but she overdoes the tortured face for what is essentially a joyful dance. I was seated in front of Matilde Coral who shouted ‘¡Ole! every few minutes so she obviously approved.

The Tarantos by the soloists was strong. I thought Patricia shone more than Eduardo but there was no real spark between the two of them. Pastora’s solo and a company Tangos completed the first half which was the ‘flamenco’ section.

The second half morphed from an unaccompanied voice duet to orchestral classical music and we were in the world of Spanish dance but Spanish dance both embellished by ballet, as in the solo by Olmo, and Spanish dance deconstructed by Rocio Molina in her solo. Dressed in an ivory strapless short bata she resembled a beautiful android programmed to dance but with the program scrambled. Nothing was as you might expect. Brilliant.

The final company piece, in all black, ‘Body and Soul’, was a fitting finish, giving short solos to all the corps who had not solo’d previously. Very thoughtful staging.
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Teatro Central, Sevilla, 9pm 2 December 2011
12 euro general seating

This event was organised by the Seville Federation of Flamenco as a tribute to the guitarist Manolo Brenes who was born in Brenes in 1924. The artists named in the original program changed somewhat so I can’t be sure I have recorded this absolutely correctly.

First Part
Manolo Franco y Niño Pura (Los Compadres)
Singer: Manuela Cordera
Juan A. Muñoz ‘El Chozas’
Dance: Carmen Ledesma and her group

Second Part
Singer: Jose Meneses
J. Angel Carmon
Dance: ‘El Junco’
Guitar: Antonio Carrion, Pedro Sierra and Eduardo Trasierr

Comment: This was a huge program even with the substitutions (Rocio Molina and ‘La Tremendita’ were billed but did not perform). My favourites of the evening were the guitarist Pedro Sierra and the dancer ‘El Junco’ (‘The Reed’ because he is very tall and slender). I had seen him perform at Tablao El Arenal but did not know his name. He has what seems like an effortless, graceful style and fantastic footwork.
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Sala Joaquin Turina, Centro Cultural Cajasol, Sevilla, 9pm 1 December 2011

‘La Puerta Abierta’ (‘The Open Door’)
Dance, Choreography and Artistic Direction: Isabel Bayon
Singer: David Lagos
Guitar: Jesus Torres
Percussion: Jose Carrasco

Program: Goldberg Variations, Solea, Milonga, Taranta, Alegria, Pasodoble, Martinete and a final Buleria piece.

Comment: It was a little surreal to cycle directly from class at Isabel Bayon’s studio -Ados- to see her dance at such a prominent event. She first performed this show six years ago and it has been enormously successful. The theatre appeared full. I sat in the front row, three in from the centre and I could see every nuance.

She does the costume changes on stage and every second is carefully choreographed and beautifully lit. The first contemporay piece was my favourite but the Milonga was gorgeous too. I had never seen someone choreograph their breathing so precisely and her hair should have its own billing! All the performers were wonderful and I was impressed she sang a Buleria letre at the end for David to dance to. A memorable show.
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Triana, Sevilla, 10:30pm 29 November 2011

Dancers: Juan Candela and Irene ‘La Seranilla’
Singer: Paco ‘El Trini’ Trinidad
Guitar: Fyty Carillo

Comment: This was my last night at the ‘T’ and what a great performance to end on. Juan and Irene are clearly a couple which made a nice change. I enjoyed Irene’s performance the most and Señor Trini was on great form.
_______________________________________________________________________________Peña Cantes al Aire, Calle Castillo 47, Triana, Sevilla, 10pm 28 November 2011
6 euro entry

Dancer: Manuela Rios
Singers: Carmen Grilo and Mari Vizarraga
Guitar: Rafael Rodriguez

Comment: I had seen Manuela at the Casa de la Memoria and was pleased to have the chance to see her again in a peña setting. Her style is so intense and her footwork so strong it is exhausting watching her but amazing! I really like Carmen Grilo’s voice and the guitarist, Rafael has a very relaxed and clean style of playing. A great show.
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Auditorio Alvarez Quintero, Calle Alvarez Quintero 48, Sevilla, 9pm 26 November 2011
17 euro entry, general seating. This is a comparatively recent addition to the flamenco show scene. It is a long narrow flat hall with a raised stage.

Dancers: Araceli de Alcada and Juan Fernandez
Singer: David Hornillo
Guitar: Javier Leal

Comment: The show follows the standard format, opening with a song accompanied by guitar then the female dance solo, guitar solo, male dance solo and finishes with a fin de fiesta – in this case two parts, a Sevillanas and a short Buleria. Whoever was doing the lighting got a bit carried away changing the colours too often.

This may sound harsh but with so many wonderful, young professional bailaoras coming onto the scene I think it is time some thought about retiring. Araceli’s Alegria was a lot of attitude with rather basic choreography. By contrast Juan’s Seguirya was so strong I wished he’d had a bigger stage. My tip for him is to forget the eye makeup. He doesn’t need it and it runs. David’s opening Malagueña was lovely as was Javier’s guitar solo.
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Sala Joaquin Turina, Jueves Flamenco, Cajasol Centro Cultural, Sevilla, 9pm 24 November 2011
With student discount my excellent seat in the third row was 12.6 euro

Compañia de Javier Baron

Dance and artistic direction: Javier Baron
Singer: Jose Valencia
Guitar: Javier Patino
Percussion: Jose Carrasco

Comments: As you can see you need a first name that starts with J to work with Javier Baron, preferably a Jose or Javier. Seriously, this was a fantastic show. I had seen Javier Baron in Jerez and not been a great fan but the combination of the amazing voice of Jose Valencia and Jose Baron’s mastery of the art form blew me away tonight. The stage was amplified so every scratch of his shoes could be heard.
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Triana, Sevilla, 10:30pm 21 November 2011
Flamenco bar, free performances Tuesdays and Thursdays

Dancers: Florencia O’Ryan (was Zuñiga) and Adi Movdat ‘La Piconera’
Singer: Paco Trinidad ‘El Trini’
Guitar: Fyty Carillo

Comment: On this night the flamenco was secondary to a farewell send off for a Bulerias classmate plus a get together for my morning class. The performers acquitted themselves very well but the highlight was the jam packed fin de fiesta. My favourite guest dancer was Marco Jimenez.
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Peña Pies Plomos, Calle Darsena 22, Sevilla, 10pm 17 November 2011
Peñas de Guardia 6 Euro entry

Dancer: Jose Manuel Galvan
Singers: Natalia Marin and Jorge el Canastero
Guitar: Antonio Gamez

Comment: I had not realised that Jose Manuel was the attractive, young dancer that peformed the night I went to see La Chica at the tablao. He had been one of the very few performers that night who looked like they enjoyed what they were doing. He is from Malaga and no relation to the other Galvan. At the peña he performed a Tarantos and a Solea Por Buleria. He has an extremely athletic style but also has great feeling. I fear for his knees in a few years given the intensity of his footwork. I adore Natalia’s voice and she is a consummate entertainer. The second solo by Antonio, an ‘international Granaina’ was lovely.
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La Caboneria, Calle Levies, Santa Cruz, Sevilla, 10pm 13 November 2011
Free entry flamenco bar

The group that performed goes by the name ‘La Mala Reputacion’. I could not find out the individuals’ names. There was an exhibition of art by Pedro Alejandro Agudelo Montoya, some prints as well as paintings, which was a real bonus.

Comment: The dancer was OK and I enjoyed the singer and guitarist.
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Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, 28, Santa Cruz, Seville, 9pm 13 November 2011
15 euro entry with two euro discount for students, including flamenco academy students

Dancers: Almudena Serrano and Felipe Mato
Singer: Ana Real
Guitar: Raul Cantizano

Comment: I had been to see the dancers previously and enjoyed them enormously so thought they would be good for my non-Flamenco visiting adult son to see. Indeed Almudena performed a vibrant Alegria with bata de cola in a lovely red dress and Felipe blew everyone away with his Solea. Ana seemed bored to be there most of the time and her voice did not appeal to me. Raul’s guitar playing was wonderful.
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Huelva Ocho Bar/Restaurant, Calle Huelva 8, Sevilla, 9:0pm 12 November 2011

This venue has an 14 euro entry show on Wednesday and Saturday nights which seems steep but it runs from a little after 9:30pm to about 12mn. The food is good.

Dancers: Ana Pruneda and Israel Moreno
Singer: Alvaro Ramirez
Guitar: Danny Veles

Comment: I had met Ana previously through mutual friends so knew her by reputation as a fine dancer and this performance to a Seguirya showcased her beautifully. Even though the venue and floor is quite small she projected a very commanding presence with awesome footwork. Israel too was very strong in his Alegria. The singer was young with a fresh style and he worked very well with the dancers and I enjoyed his two solo pieces. There was no guitar solo but Danny plays very well as I know from his playing for Andres Peña’s Bulerias class. A very enjoyable evening and we were made to feel welcome by the young Dutch MC, Jerom.

Note that on Mondays and Tuesdays the venue has a free Flamenco performance at 11pm with Sofia Castro dancing, Alvaro Ramirez singing and Mario on guitar. _______________________________________________________________________________
Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, Seville, 9 November 2011
15 Euro entry with two euro discount for flamenco students

‘El Tronio’
Dancers: Leonor Leal and Oscar de los Reyes
Singer: Javier Rivera
Guitar: Pedro Sanchez

Comment: Leonor is in my top three female current dancers – she never disappoints. She changed her solo to a Solea for this show (was an Alegria last time) and mesmerised the audience. Her costumes are always modern and figure hugging. Oscar is young and gorgeous. He performed an Alegria with lightning fast footwork. He has a very masculine, almost macho style (you can see the Javier Latorre in his style). Javier sang movingly as ever but Pedro seemed to have an off night. His guitar went out of tune in the middle of his solo. I blame his short hair cut!
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Trina, Seville 10pm listed start but did not start until 22:30pm 8 November 2011
Flamenco Bar-Restaurant with free shows Tuesdays and Thursdays

Dancers: Adi Movdat (now goes by the name ‘La Piconera’) and Jardanay Sierra
Singer: Paco ‘El Trini’
Guitar: Idan Balas

Comment: It’s wonderful to see Adi grow in confidence and performance skills. This is the third time I have seen her and she danced very well. It was my first time to see Jaradanay and I got the impression she had not performed this solo before as she looked at the floor a lot. Her Buleria section is strong and seems to come naturally to her but with a shirt she was almost popping out of and an earring malfunction there were some unnecessary distractions. El Trini was on fire!
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Peña Cantes al Aire, Calle Castilla, 47, Triana, Seville 10pm listed start time but did not start until 10:35pm 7 November 2011
6 euro entry, general seating, good value snacks and drinks

Dancer: Mercedes de Moron
Singers: Rubio de Pruna and Jorge el Canestero
Guitar: Curro Vargas
There was a palmista also who I think was Mercedes’ sister.

Comment: This is the oddest peña I have seen so far – downstairs is a secondhand recorded music, books and video store while upstairs is quite a large peña arranged with small tables and chairs with a slightly raised stage that has a good sound. It is dedicated to Don Cecilio. On this evening the famous Flamenco dancer and teacher Concha Vargas was there.

The guitar solo was quite different and interesting. This was followed by a Buleria by Rubio which he sang in an unaffected style which everyone seemed to enjoy – I certainly did. Mercedes is an extremely strong dancer but I found the choreography rather monotonous towards the end.
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Museo de Baile Flamenco, Seville 7pm 6 November, 2011
13 euro entry with 2 euro student discount, general seating

Dancers: Lola Jaramillo and Jesus Herrera
Singer: Cheito
Guitar: Tudela

Comment: This show varied from the usual format by Lola starting with a dance to a guitar solo – not sure what it was but not much footwork. The Guajira guitar solo was nice and I enjoyed all the cante. Lola performed an Alegria with manton and just a final swing of the bata de cola – nicely done. Jesus is one of the tallest, most well-built male dancers I have seen and it took a minute to adjust to his size on the stage when he came on for his Solea por Bulerias. His forte is compas and zapateo with a very nice, gypsy bulerias. The performers’ family members (at least the dancers and singer) were seated on their right side which meant they were constantly looking that way which was a bit distracting.
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Sala Joaquin Turina, Centro Cultural Cajasol, Calle Laraña, Seville, 3 November 2011
13 euro numbered seating (30% student discount)

Jueves Flamencos
Manuel Liñan, Compañia De Baile Flamenco

Dance and artistic direction: Manuel Liñan
Singers: Juan Jose Amador, Ismael de la Rosa and Matias Lopez
Guitar: Antonia Jimenez and Jesus Nuñez
Palmas: La Tacha and Ana Romero

Program: Romance, Seguirya-Martinete, Instrumental, Solea, Instrumental, Taranto, Tangos

Comment: I said it on facebook and I will say it again here – Manuel Liñan is the kind of crazy, brilliant artist who would make you or anyone else wonder why you even bother pulling on flamenco shoes. He can do it all a thousand times better, faster, funnier, higher….you name it he does it. He even stole my karate kick Bulerias move! Seriously, this was a 1,000 watt performance. One of the singers had a cold which was a bit distracting and the seating for one instrumental meant we could only see one singer for the duration but besides that I could not fault a thing.

I loved the female guitarist, the first this trip to Seville. She rocks. ¡Gracias Manuel!
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Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso 28, Seville 9pm 28 October 2011
15 euro entry, general seating

Dancers: Almudena Serrano and Felipe Mato
Singer: Sebastian Cruz
Guitar: Pedro Sanchez

Seville continually surprises me with the depth of the talent. Both dancers were wonderful. Felipe was especially impressive. He reminded me of Rafael Campallo with even better turns if you can imagine that. Sebastian made me cry with his Solea and Pedro had me sobbing in his solo. I swear I only had one beer beforehand! The guitar sound was perfect like crystals.
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Peña Pies Plomos, Calle Darsena 22, Torneo, Seville, 10pm 27 October 2011
Six euro entry, low priced drinks and snacks. Long narrow room with raised stage.

Dancer: Gonzalo Quintero
Singers: Marina Rey and Jesus Flores
Guitar: Juan Torres

Comment: This is the closest Flamenco to my apartment, just a five minute walk, so I could not believe my good fortune to have Marina Rey on the bill. I loved her performance in ‘Danzacali’ and became an instant fan. She has a big personality to go with her big voice – lots of fun.

The other artists were wonderful too, Juan’s playing was inventive and Jesus has a soulful voice with an understated style. The real surprise of the night was how sharp Gonzalo Quintero’s dancing was. I stayed for both parts of the performance. His contratiempo was wonderful and he wowed the audience. Some friends joined the fin de fiesta and acquitted themselves well.
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Peña Torres Macarena, Calle Torrijiano 29, Macarena, Seville, 10pm 26 October 2011
Six euro entry, low priced drinks and snacks. Separate bar and garden (for smokers).

Dancer: Sonia Poveda
Singers: Juan Cantarote and Inma Rivero
Guitar: Miguel Perez

Comment: The first thing to say is that the dancer’s shoes on the raised stage sounded exactly like a cajon! This was distracting at first but one can get used to anything.

They opened with Miguel’s solo which was spellbinding as usual. Juan then sang a Tangos with Miguel and Sonia followed with her Solea por Bulerias. I don’t know for sure but her style seemed to be ‘antigua’, with sharp angles of the hands and arms at times and her back very bent, both forwards and backwards (see video). This was the third performance and everything was polished and most enjoyable.
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Peña la Perla de Cadiz, Cadiz, 10:45pm 22 October 2011
Free entry. This is a large peña that serves good value snacks and drinks. Some tables had been reserved for parties of four or more.

Singer: Leo Power
Guitar: Juan Ramon Ortega
Compas: Miguel Fernandez and Naim Real
Dance: Mari Angeles Perez

Alegria: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXxESv5NUHs&sns=em

This was the second act of the evening and it was announced that this was their first performance at this venue. Leo has a powerful voice and great presence, I enjoyed her singing enormously. The sound system was a little too loud even where I was sitting towards the rear of the room. The palmistas were very good. They seemed to give the guitarist a hard time – I think he was nervous. Mari Angeles Perez danced an enjoyable, lively Alegria. Her dress was a lovely, layered cream silk with a reddish brown trim. Very nice to see an elegant and simple costume.
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Centro Municipal de Arte Flamenco ‘La Merced’, Cadiz, 9pm 22 October 2011
Free Entry with general seating

‘Espectaculo De Baile’

Dance: Daniel Saltares
Singers: Brenda Garcia and Selu del Puerto
Guitar: Javier Ibañez and Alejandro ‘El Archi’
Percussion: Adrian Trujillo

I had been queuing since 8pm to be sure of a good seat so had the pleasure of hearing the show twice as I could hear the rehearsal thrpugh the doors. Daniel is from Cadiz and it was a very partisan audience but he deserved the accolades as he gave 110%. He is young, strong and very fast! Added to that he has great emotionality – he and his musicians were very simpatico- and he staged his pieces for maximum impact, rig down to ripping open his shirt! It sounds naff but it worked. I loved Brenda Garcia’s voice, a touch of molasses and lots of soul. Selu del Puerto is a wonderful performer too as were the guitarists. The percussion was nicely restrained. Altogether a fantastic show. I would have paid 25 euro to see it!
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Sevilla, 10:30pm 20 October, 2011
Flamenco bar with free live shows Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Dancer: Jeranys Perez
Singer: Cristina Solter
Guitar: Juan Ramirez
Palmas: Adi Movdat

Comment: It was lovely to see the gorgeous young talent assembled on stage and those red patent leather shoes of Cristina’s are fabulous! (See Flickr photos) Cristina warmed up with a sweet Alegrias.

Jeranys is probably the most ‘out there’ dancer I have seen, especially in her Bulerias which was very bawdy. The Solea choreography was interesting and the footwork technically ambitious. She executed it strongly and received tremendous audience response.
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La Carboneria, Calle Levies 18, Sevilla, 10:45pm 19 October, 2011

This a large multilevel bar rated number one for live, free flamenco in Seville’s entry in the Lonely Planet Guide to Spain so always has a big crowd. The entertainment runs from 10pm to midnight.

Dancer: Rocio ‘La Turronera’
Singer: Jonathon Reyes
Guitar: Antonio Heredia
There was also a woman who did palmas and danced a brief, spirited Bulerias at the end but I couldn’t find out her name.

Comment: I had never witnessed a dancer trying to quieten a crowd by hissing at them but ‘La Turronera’ was quite something. She danced a very haughty, long Alegria with great gusto. The audience enjoyed it but it was not to my taste. I enjoyed the singer and guitarist.
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La Casa de la Memoria, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, Sevilla, 9pm 19 October, 2011
15 Euro entry (get there at least thirty minutes before the show with ticket in hand and line up to get a good seat).

‘Semblanza Flamenco’

Dancer: Asuncion Perez ‘Choni’
Singer: Javier Rivera
Guitar: Manuel de la Luz

Comment: With only the one dancer on the bill (usually there is a male and female and they each do a solo) Choni danced twice. As often happens her second dance was better than her first. She did a lot of fast but quiet footwork contratiempo and worked hard to connect with the audience.

The audience (which is mostly short stay international tourists who have not seen flamenco before) was impressed and several people gave her a standing ovation. Javier Rivera has a natural style with an unforced voice, especially for his Alegria, but I think he had a sore back, he seemed to be in pain between songs. Manuel de la Luz played a very long solo and I got los about a third of the way through.
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Teatro Lope de Vega, Sevilla, 7:30pm, 16 October, 2011

‘Danzacali’ El Danzar de los Gitanos (The Dance of the Gypsies) by Antonio El Pipa and his company. I paid 30 Euro in online booking.

I was seated in the first floor box just to the left of centre so had a magnificent view of the stage and the beauty of the theatre itself.

Principal Dancer: Antonio El Pipa
Dance Soloists: Macarena Ramirez and Isaac Tovar
Corps Dancers: Ana Ojeda, Cynthia Lopez, Marta Mancera, Anonio Vazquez, Manuel del Rio, Jose Angel Alonso
Junior Dancers: Cristian de los Reyes and Migel Rivero
Singers: Mara Rey, Morenito de Illora, Maloko de Sordera and Joaquin Flores
Guitar: Juan Jose Alba and Franciso Javier Ibañez
Compas: Luis de la Tota

Comment: As this was billed in the pre-show publicity and in the program as a gypsy flamenco performance I was surprised at how much modern dance was included in this five part show. At least three pieces of the twelve had no flamenco. I felt those were the weakest links. The choreography was predictably symmetrical and not very imaginative. The audience seemed quite reserved, almost embarrassingly so for me as many times Antonio would finish with a flourish but no applause and with very few ‘Oles’ until almost at the end when they loudly applauded Antonio’s final solo. He was given an extended ovation with many people standing.

Maybe it was the distance from the stage but to me Antonio El Pipa’s fast footwork seemed a bit flat and ponderous even in the early dances. As ever he made the most of his long, strong lines and his Bulerias in the last number was humourous and quirky.

The young principal dancers were strong, especially Macarena, who was lovely in the romantic roles she was assigned.

There was a technical hitch with the wireless microphone of Mara Rey at one point but she soldiered on. She has excellent theatricality which she used well in two emotional solo pieces with Antonio. The newspaper ‘El Mundo’ gave the show three stars and a glowing write up.
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Tablao El Arenal, Calle Rodo, Sevilla, 10pm, 15 October, 2011

I took the cheapest entry plus one drink option which was 37 euro. This is a small venue compared with El Palacio Andaluz as it seats just 100 all at tables in dinner theatre arrangement. You are seated according to where you were in the queue outside so as ever it is worth getting there early. The central area is reserved for those who have paid the steep dinner and show or dinner and tapas prices but all seats seemed to have reasonable views.

Performers: As at 1910/2011 I am still waiting for the list of performers from El Arenal as they were not announced or recorded anywhere. I only knew the cajon player Andrej.

Comment: It is a two-hour show that would benefit from the removal or replacement of a couple of the dances. Aside from that there were several outstanding performers on the night, principally the two male solo dancers and one of the female singers. I had been advised that this is the ‘most gitano/gypsy’ tablao in Seville and in the faces and styles of a couple of the dancers that was borne out.
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Museo de Baile Flamenco, Seville, 7pm, 15 October, 2011

Saturday nights the ‘Espectaculo’ is 23 Euro entry with general seating so get there thirty minutes before to get a good seat. Put your sweater on your seat and you can take it easy at the temporary bar they set up in the space and enjoy beers/sangria/wine at 2 euro each. (Entry price is discounted if you have taken a class there.)

Dancers: Ursula Moreno and Luis Casado
Singer: Juan Reina
Guitar: Antonio Andrade

Comment: All the performers gave creditable performances. Ursula danced a Caña starting with Manton and when she really got going she threw her head back emphatically causing her decorative comb to fly ten metres. Luis wore a rather shiny suit which was a bit distracting but he has tidy turns and performed a snappy Alegria.

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Casa de la Memoria de la Andalucia, Calle Ximenez de Enciso, Santa Cruz, Sevilla, 9pm, 14 October, 2011

15 Euro entry (get there at least thirty minutes before the show with ticket in hand and line up to get a good seat).

‘Campalleria’ (Or as I say, when one Campallo is just not enough why not have three!)

Dancers: Adela and Rafael Campallo, Singer: Juan Campallo, Guitar: Pedro Sanchez

Comment: Juan is a cousin of the Campallo brother and sister duo which added extra zing to the night, especially when he composed some lyrics about his ‘primo’ (cousin) for Rafael’s dance. I am sure they take more risks when he is singing for them.

Call me shallow but I really appreciate good costumes and on this night Adela’s abstract spotted stretch dress with a contrasting bright blue lining was perfect to show her shapes. Rafael was on fire and Pedro’s guitar solo was as hauntingly beautiful as ever.

I have to add that Rafael is one cool dude. I saw him before the show in t-shirt and jeans in the foyer and he was completely unassuming, then after the show the three amigos (Rafael, Juan and Pedro) happened to stroll past my outside restaurant table in civvies and just gave the smallest smile when I silently applauded them.
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Museo del Baile Flamenco, 7pm, 8 October, 2011, Seville
23 Euro

Espectaculo: Dancers Pilar Ogalla and Andres Peña, Singer: El Trini, Guitar: Miguel Perez and Palmas: Kuky Santiago and Juan Aguirre

Comment: OK I am probably biased as he is my Maestro, but Andres Peña has got to be in the current top ten male dancers. He took the longest time I have ever seen to build the emotion in his Solea before ripping the stage up. He became a blurr in some of his turns. His partnership in the Tangos with his wife was joy to watch and her Alegria was intense and sexy, just as one would wish. Miguel, who plays for my morning class gave us a beautiful solo and Trini’s singing throughout was some of the best I have heard from him. Funny to think that just the day before he was having coffee before class right next to me in Triana’s El Patio.

I had to stifle a giggle in the Fin de Fiesta to see some of the Bulerias steps we had been attempting given the professional treatment by Andres. Both Kuky and Juan danced well and Andres was obviously pleased with them.
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Palacio de Andaluz, Seville, 9:30pm, 8 October, 2001

I was at this Tablao show principally to see one of my favourite dancers, La Chica (Francesca Grima), perform and I was not disappointed of course. The large stage gave her plenty of room to work her Solea and the manton (shawl) section was lovely. One of the male leads (there were two) was Jose Manuel Galvan and he was very good.
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Liceo Flamenco, Calle Beatis 21, Malaga, 1 October 2011
This is an upstairs bar and performance venue with a raised stage and most of the seating is on cajon which makes it a bit tempting to join in the compas. Entry is 3 Euro but that does not gaurantee a seat, you need to call ahead and put your name on the seating list.

Comment: Flamenco is about honesty, ‘duende’ is an authentic response to something in the music/dance/percussion that goes straight to that place deep inside. I respect the singer, Loli Paris, who performed on this night, especially when she moved away from the microphone to sing solo. For the rest maybe the Malaga style does not suit me. The venue I wanted to go to, Kelipe, did not have a performance that Saturday night.
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T de Triana, Calles Betis, Triana, Seville, 29 September, 2011
Flamenco Bar/Restaurant free entry

Dancers: Alberto Selles and Florencia Zuñiga, Singer: Juan Ramirez, Guitarist: Manuel Romero

Comment: Alberto is a star in the making. Like Kuky he is young and strong with precise footwork and great presence. I especially enjoyed the singer as he was emotional but not strained and being a tall man he had a big voice which really works well in an unplugged setting. A highlight was the Fin de Fiesta when Kuky jumped up in board shorts, kicked off his thongs and ripped into a Buleria.
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Triana, Seville, 27 September, 2011
Dancers: Elena La More and Jessi La Kika, Guitarist: Fyty Carillo, Palmas: Kuky Santiago (need to find out singer’s name as they substituted)

Comment: I only saw the first half which Jessi danced but she was excellent. It is so exciting to see the wonderful young talent coming through in Seville. She often practices in the studio next to me and I can attest to the hours of hard work she puts into her performances.
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Casa de la Memoria, Seville, 22 September, 2011

‘Fragua Flamenca’
Dancers: Adela Campallo and Juan Manuel Zurano, Singer: Javier Rivera and Guitarist: Pedro Sanchez

Comment: Both dancers were outstanding but for once it was the musicians who impressed me the most. Javier’s Malagueña was really moving and Pedro again did an amazing solo guitar piece.
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Seville, 20 September, 2011
Dancers: Adi Movdat and Florencia Zuñiga, Singer: Paco El Trini, Guitarist: Idan Balas

Comment: The dancers warmed up with a cute Sevillanas. Adi who is from Israel, gave a good performance but Florence, from Chile, really blew me away. She has such a natural, relaxed and personalised feminine style and her fast footwork was amazing. The hem of her skirt came down but she carried on – great spirit! It was a brief Fin de Fiesta with one other participant who really rocked it out.
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16 Calle Pasaje Mallo, La Macarena, Seville, 18 September, 2011
‘1 Cyclo Punta-tacoN’ 6 Euro entry

This is a coverted second floor apartment that is an arts community effort with all sorts of second hand chairs and couches. The manager’s dog was behind the bar and the sandwiches had obviously been made and brought in. It was standing room only. The performers were not microphoned.

Dancer: Lucia ‘La Pinoña’, Guitarist: Miguel Perez, Singers: Niño de Elche and Moi de Maron

Comment: Well rehearsed dancing but I could not relax as Lucia seemed so uptight until the very end. Very supportive audience.
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17 September, 2011 was the all night Fiesta de la Buleria in the bull ring in Jerez de la Frontera – see home page post for details and this page for a video clip of His Awesomeness Joaquin Grilo.
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T de Triana, Calle Betis, Triana, Seville, September 15, 2011 10:30pm
This was the season opener after the summer. It is an ‘unplugged’ venue.

Dancers: Francesca Grima ‘La Chica’ and Kuky Santiago, Cajon: Andrej Vucicic, Singer: Gullermo Manzano and Inma La Carbonera, Guitar: Fyty Carillo

Comment: Wonderful to see Chica and Andrej perform together again. Kuky gave a fantastic performance, especially as he warmed up – he just beamed. His compas is awesome. The Fin de Fiesta went on for ages as lots of people jumped up to join them.
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Sala Real, Calle Salido, Triana, Seville, September 13, 2011 10:30pm
Flamenco Bar 8 Euro Entry included one drink

Dancers: Javier Aguilar ‘Niño Carmelo’ and Ida Balas, Cante: Eva Piñero

Comment: Javier warmed up in the second act, his compas was hot. The real surprise was Eva, a young, lovely singer who projects authentic emotion, especially in her Malaguena.
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Casa De La Memoria De Andalucia, Calle Ximinez de Enciso, 28, Santa Cruz, Seville
15 Euro for a one hour performance. Arrive 30 minutes before showtime to get a decent seat.

‘Duende Flamenco’ 8 September, 2011 9pm
Dancers: Marina Valiente and Rafael Campallo, Singer: Juan Campallo, Guitarist: Jeromo Segura

Comment: Rafael was his usual brilliant, crazed energiser bunny self and really seemed to enjoy himself and I was surprised how good Marina Valiente was, gorgeous to watch.

‘El Tronio’ 10 September, 2011 9pm
Dancers: Leonor Leal and Juan Diego, Singer: Juan Campallo, Guitarist: Vicente Gello

Comment: Leonor was mesmerising in a short blue sleeveless very fitted day dress that had a clever flap at the front for a ‘falda’. Her Alegria was to die for. Juan gave 110% and I loved his jumps. Vicente’s guitar solo was just beautiful. A memorable night.
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Tarantos, Flamenco Bar, Placa Real, 17, Barcelona
8:30pm show 8 Euro for thirty minutes (shows 8:30pm, 9:30pm and 10:30pm)

‘Candela’ 1 September, 2011
Singer: Raul Levia, Guitarist: Tuto, Cajon: Jonny, Dancers: Pilar Rodriguez and Ines Rubio

‘Oleando’ 2 September, 2011
Singer: Joaquin ‘El Duende’, Guitar: Eduardo Cortes, Cajon: Ramon Olivares, Dancers: Yolanda Cortes and Jose Manuel

Comment: Both shows were good value. Get there 15 minutes early to secure a good seat or sit at the bar.
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Tablao Flamenco Cordobes, La Rambla, Barcelona, 29 August 2011
One hour Concert with a Drink 23 Euros

Dancers: leads were Olga Pericet and Carlos Carbonnel with Claudia Cruz, Auxi Fernandez, Juan Amaya ‘El Pelon’ and Ivan Alcala

Guitarists: David Cerruda (son of famous guitarist ‘El Nani’) and Gastor de Paco, El Tuto, and Vincent Cortes

Singers: La Tana, Antonio Billar, Antonio Santiago, Juan Manzano, Antonio Campo

Comment: Olga Pericet was outstanding in her Solea por Bulerias. She is so tiny she can seem frail and small on a main stage (as in Jerez) so the tablao venue was perfect.

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Author’s Note: This where I record notes on live performances I’ve seen and I welcome your comments. I am an enthusiast, not an expert. My response to Flamenco is visceral and emotional or nothing. There’s a lot I just don’t ‘get’ and maybe never will.

2 Responses to “Flamenco”

  1. Ilsa Thielan June 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Thanks for all these reviews. It’s brilliant.
    I only had a short time in Seville this spring and had the pleasure of being in Casa de la
    Memoria on the 25th and 26th of April. Vicente Gelo’s voice mesmerises me. Especially on the 26th, Juan Carlos’ dancing and Vicente’s singing were incredible together. I was
    so touched by it that I went over to Plaza Santa Cruz after to sit down and write a poem about it. I hope I can travel to Andalucia soon again.
    Warm regards, Ilsa from Ireland

    • Sharon Tickle June 27, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      Glad you felt the same way Ilsa! I will be heading back to Seville for another two weeks of Flamenco during the September Bienal to get my fix before heading home finally.

      Hope you get back to Andalucia again soon too!

      All the best,

      Sharon

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