We first came across flamenco not in Spain but in France at a local festival. We’d always assumed it was just an opportunity to dress up in colourful costume, wield a few pairs of castanets and amuse the tourists. It’s not, is it?
On that evening in Pamiers, we were mesmerised by the dancers’ extraordinary balance between being both controlled and uninhibited, expressive yet disciplined, and profoundly emotional and erotic. We’ve never forgotten it.
Yesterday, Javi took us on one of his walks. I mentioned it in my post. I didn’t say we got lost at one point, finding ourselves in what turned out to be the grounds of the Escuela International de Flamenco Manolete. A caretaker came out to put us right. Only he wasn’t a caretaker. He was Manolete, one of the greatest living exponents of flamenco.
He showed us round: we saw the performing space, backed not with curtains, but with a plate glass window looking straight out onto a view of the Alhambra.
Malcolm, Jane, Manolete and Javi on stage: not dancing though.
He wasn’t performing that day, but another troupe was, in another part of Sacromonte.
We got tickets. We went. My picture can’t convey the involving, sensuous unbridled yet contained emotion displayed by a small troupe of performers who danced, clicked vibrated and stamped their feet while others sang, chanted, clapped in sustained and complicated rhythm, and played guitar. Mesmerising.