Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The night Flamenco changed my life

I started taking dance classes when I was a young lass and have loved it ever since.  Dance, like most art forms comes in as many styles as there are colours, which makes it nearly impossible to pick a favourite. Each performance has it's own story or feeling and a great performance has the ability to transport you to a whole new world.  Combine that power with travel and that's one heck of a winning combo. In places like Sevilla that are considered the birth place of a style, it's all that much more magical.  

View of the Basilica from our rooftop patio

It wasn't long after our arrival in the south of Spain that I announced to my travel companion that a trip to the tablao (the place where flamenco shows are performed) was in order. As with many performances, you can choose what kind of show you'd like to experience.  Do you want to watch a big colourful spectacle on stage or would you rather be stuffed into a small bar so that you're close enough to see the beads of sweat rolling down the performers' faces? The latter seemed the most authentic, so that's what we opted for. i don't regret it for a second.

We entered the tablao and were offered a glass of wine before taking our seats in the back.  The venue was small and the seats were set up around three sides of a very small stage.  The stage was bare with the exception of four chairs.  As the lights dimmed, two men dressed in black took the stage.  One of them was a guitarist and the other a palmeiro and singer.  A palmeiro is responsible for clapping along to the music. It's not used so much for keeping time as it is to enhance the percussion created by the dancer's steps. 

As they began to play, the dancer came out on stage in her wonderfully frilly costume,  She was beautiful.  Her poise, strength and grace commanded the audience and left us breathless.  The juxtaposition of her stomping feet and light graceful hands was mesmerizing.  Her body seemed to be taken over by her performance, as if she ceased to be a person and instead was a vessel for raw emotion and passion.  The depth of her passion made me question if I had ever truly felt passionate about anything as I doubted that I had ever felt as strongly about anything as she did in that performance.  I was in awe of her.  

By the end of the show this small audience had unknowingly bonded with each other and with the performers through this emotional journey.  We had just experienced love, lust, betrayal, tragedy and desire in a 1 hour show.  It's almost too much to handle.  I can't understand how the performers can endure that roller coaster every night.  It's exhausting. 

If you are ever in Sevilla and have the opportunity to go to a small flamenco show in a tablao, go! Without the distractions of fancy sets, noisy restaurants or "fluff" you'll be able to connect with the performance in a way that you never dreamed imaginable and your soul will thank you for it.