One of the much-awaited highlights of our tour was the flamenco performance in Seville. Our guide Ieva reminded us to be on time, as the performance venue was small, and seating was on a first-come, first-served basis.
She repeatedly stressed that we were going to watch the 'traditional' flamenco. Unfortunately, yours truly did not comprehend the full significance of what she was saying then, and here lies my tale.
All i knew about flamenco was that it was a form of Spanish music and dance - someone strumming their guitar, while a couple or a group of people danced vigorously (akin to tap dancing) with arms and hands flailing about. Well, apparently i was wrong!
So we duly walked to the venue, Casa de la Memoria. It was indeed quite intimate, much smaller than i had expected - people in the front rows were literally a step or two away from the stage. A crew member announced that taking photographs was not allowed, except during the final ten minutes of the show; and they would give the signal accordingly.
The performers - a male guitarist and a female singer - appeared on stage and sat down.
'Hmmm, no dancers in sight. Strange," i thought to myself.
Things did NOT start out promisingly. The singer did not so much sing as wail. And wail she did, very very plaintively AND in quite high volume at that. Despite my attempts to focus my attention, i couldn't help getting restless. 'Hayy, when will she ever stop?'
Then the male dancer made his appearance. Looking dapper in a dark blue shirt and black trousers, with his hair immaculately slicked back, he gave quite a whirling dervish of a performance. At the end of his solo, he was soaked and breathing hard, and his hair was tousled, oozing magnetic charm. Bravo!
Now, it was the female dancer's turn. As the male dancer sat down and joined in the clapping (palmas), the singer and guitarist continued on. 'Why don't they dance together?' i thought. With her sharp, angular facial features emphasized by her tightly bunned hair, she likewise danced with much gusto and feeling; and the audience was quite appreciative.
Finally, my wish was granted! Them dancing together! Check out the photos below from my tour mate Lisa:
And some photos from tour mate Susan:
As we exited the theater, our group was abuzz with chatter over the flamenco performance. Apparently, i wasn't the only one who wondered why they only danced together in the end. And some tour mates commented on the dark / plain attire of the performers - they had expected the costumes to be more bright and colourful.
Ieva explained that 'tradicional' flamenco tells a sad story. (So i guess this might explain the separate dancing? The lovers are star crossed and not meant for one another, maybe?)
Further, apparently this was what she meant by 'authentic' flamenco, as opposed to the 'touristy' shows meant for . . . well, tourists who want a rousing show (like me!!! :-D)
I joked with her and my tour mates that i would come up with my own flamenco version, which would have:
- more dancing together of the couple
- more colourful costumes
- audience participation (i.e. pulling in unsuspecting members to join in in the finale)
- male dancer dipping the female in the end, and sealing it with a long, sensuous kiss (on the lips, por favor!)
- more cheerful singing!
In short, ditch 'tradicional' and go for touristy! We want a happy, storybook ending where they lived happily ever after!!! ;-D
For more info about flamenco, check out this Wikipedia entry.