Wednesday 9th of August
I had the last lesson with Pili in the evening. While I had still some struggles with the last letras I had learned, Pili learned me two more letras (-including two colletillas). But I was familiar with the melodies of the colletillas and also of the first letra, which makes it more easy. The lesson was at the back of the tablao, where Maria and Pili would perform tonight with a guitarist – the setting with these three artists was most common at the performances of ‘Essencia’, a project to perform Flamenco in it’s original intimate setting. It was I think the strangest setting for a lesson I had ever had, with still some television and a big screen at the background. So I learned a lot and will continue studying Flamenco- starting with these letras for Alegria. Once it’s not that new anymore I can start focusing on making music- the moment where it really get’s interesting. But I’m happy to be in the place where Flamenco belongs and experience the city, the people and the culture now, because I believe it helps me to understand the music and brings a layer.
The performance tonight really touched me. Especially Pili’s solo. This was the first moment of the week I really felt tears and the music went deep inside me. Maybe because it had cooled down a bit (- the haze the heat caused made all experiences different), but also because of the people, their skills and the setting. Back to the conversation with Merlijn – skilled musicians touch the most. In La Carboniera the artists are skilled as well, certainly, but there are also a lot of tourists and the performance in the tablao is just more refined. Tonight the musicians started with an Allegrias, for which Pili took some of the letras she had also taught me, but in a different order. It was nice to hear it in the full context where guitar and dance were also involved.
Thursday 10th of August
It was lovely speaking to Maria today. I have been curious from the moment I met her how she came to live here. She told she had always danced ballet. When she was nineteen years old she was studying Spanish and next to her study she had the opportunity to follow lessons for Flamenco dance. She immediately fell in love with it. She had already bee to Spain several times and went there again, among her visits a particular one for a festival in Granada. She decided she wanted to live in Sevilla, at first one year and then another year followed, which she could finance by organizing about nine weekends of intensive workshops. The second year was followed by another sixteen years. Once her decision to become a professional dancer in Sevilla was made, there were also musicians who started things more difficult for her. They were challenging her by playing wrong parts and seeing how she would solve this. ‘So you are a dancer? Show it, we’ll see’ – it must’ve been tough to work together with people who have this mentality. Now Maria has her own project ‘Esencia’ and perform three times a week with it at the tablao ‘T de Triana’. The two performances I watched there were really unique experience, a very intimate setting and very beautiful music, wonderful interplay between musicians and dancer. I recommend everybody who pays a visit to Sevilla to watch at least one of these performances, you won’t regret it! The mission of Maria with this project is to bring the Flamenco alive in small settings- how it was originally performed.
Maria spoke to a lot of people who have been in Lisboa and experienced all the live-Fado who came into Sevilla and were thinking that the Flamenco would be found as much here as the Fado in Lisboa. And I had the same expectation. For me it was quite easy to hear Flamenco everyday, because I was informed in advance. But La Carboniera is not a place which is very easy to find and if I had not known about the Tablao I would probably not have visited it, because it is not hugely announced.
During the day I visited the Museo de Baile Flamenco. It was an inspiring place, very different from the Museu de Fado, but also with a lot of information about the Flamenco. The museum start with an introduction about the different influences on Flamenco, in a room with very distinctive music, composed by Gualberto Garcia, wherein instruments from India are used, but the Flamenco-sound is kept.
A mixture of East and West, of Greek methods and African drums, of Andalusian folk music and Castilian ballads, of gypsies and coloured people, of joy and pain, of theatre and festivity. Born in Andalusia and citizen of the world.
-Text on the wall of the first room of the Museo Baile Flamenco, accompanied by the music of Gualberto Garcia
Carmen is dancing
In the streets of Seville
She has fair hair
And shining pupils
Draw the curtains!
-BAILE – Frederico Garcia Lorca
(On the wall of the museum in the third room)
Further on, you find information and examples of the different palos, about the development of the Flamenco, the spreading through theatre, films and expositions of photographs and paintings. The museum is really worth paying a visit, the art gives a lot of inspiration and also shows many different aspects of the art. One painting in particular just caught me and I think I will remember it for a long time ‘Los Sonidos del Duende’ (translated the sounds of Duende), painted by Paco Cabeza. What touched me was that this painting was able to capture music on paper, so it was performing Flamenco without making any actual sound.
After speaking sitting at the Alameda with Maria I went to a Flamenco show at the Museo Baile de Flamenco. It was very impressive and beautiful and on the other hand a very different manifestation of the Flamenco art than at the tablao and La Carboniera. Though the artists where doing what they did with sincere intention and not acting, but experiencing, the soul was very different. This is not strange of course, because the people are different, they adapted the music when they were already schooled. I think there is nothing wrong with that, because it is also art and people that are doing it and listening and seeing it are passionate about it. And it is a way of how the art developed. But I think it is important to consider that it is a different form of the art, to know that it’s original and pure form is something different. If Pastiche will be playing Flamenco it will be the same case. We are not born with it, nor do we have the roughness of the people where it originated as a natural part of our being. But we love the music and hope to connect other people with it.
After the concert I walked to Triana for dinner – a sushi tapa – and I wasn’t in the mood to go back to hostel, so I walked to the Plaza del Museo. Where I had a very welcome surprise: I bu,ped into Tango. Again I didn’t wear dancing shoes, a pity, because I had loved to have dance. I even considered walking to the hostel to change shoes, but decided to just stay a while at the Plaza and enjoy the music and the dancing. Tango really has become part of me and I realized this when I noticed how comfortable it made me feel and I immediately started smiling and walking faster when I recognized it.