Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flamenco - a tale of passion

After we visited La Alhambra we head off for Seville. My camera has come to grief with an error causing the shutter to sieze and we have not yet been able to work it out. Boy - you have no idea how frustrating that is! As we drive, I try to take some photos with Michael's camera but even on the action setting, the camera is to slow to capture what I want - grrr.
So instead, with 230 kms to travel I pull out the laptop and notes and at least complete the writing for yesterday's blog to post! Michael wants to know why I don't do it this way all the time - you have tobe joking - if I am concentrating on writing, then I am not seeing what is passing by! Not an option!!
Flamenco is in the blood of Gyspies. We had always planned to get to a show while we were in Spain. When we arrived in Seville last night, we were not particularly close to any of the sites of interest – but there was a Flamenco school and show within walking distance. It was fairly expensive at €74 each but it does include dinner with the show. Michael’s comment is that we could be dead tomorrow and knowing that we need to eat somewhere, we throw our budget to the wind and book in.

As we are walking down for the show at 7 pm, life is at full pelt on the street. There are people hurrying home from work, mums with their school student children and older people taking a stroll and doing a bit of shopping. Restaurants and bars are opening for business for the night, putting tables and chairs out for their patrons. And the traffic is certainly loud if not melodious!

El Palacio Andaluz is a sombre looking building with large timber doors. A doorman stands guard to keep unwanted characters from entering. We are ushered into the restaurant which is filled with a group of Japanese tourists and my heart heads south. BUT then the waiter comes over and leads us to a table right in front of the performance stage – whooee!

No sooner are we seated then the show begins. There is one acoustic guitarist and two singers – one that looks a little like our friend Chucky and a much older man. How I miss my camera as I am unable to get a clear photo of them in the poor light. Unfortunately we will be in London (10 days away) before I can get anyone to have a look at it. So the photos tonight are courtesy of Michael’s much slower Pentax and even with it set on an action setting, I cannot capture the dynamism of the show very well.

Dinner was interesting. Billed as typical Andalusion fare, we have a choice of three entrees, three main and three desserts. The food was certainly not the worst we have had, but not the best either. It was filling and the service was prompt. There is a bottle of dreadful red and a bottle of agua sans gas (water, no gas) on the table. Our dinner was:
Chef’s choice – aged Manchego cheese, smoked beef cheek and Andalusian sausage
Curly ensalada de lechuga con anchoas y tomate (Salad of Curly lettuce with Anchovies and tomato) Michael
Gazpacho andaluz típico estilo crema (Typical Andalusian cream Gazpacho style) (Maria)
Both served with potato medallions and beans with garlic – yay! Some vegetables!!!
Medallones de buey en una salsa de crema (Medallions of Ox in a cream sauce) Michael
Filete de cerdo con frijoles dulces (Pork fillet with sweet beans) Maria
Assorted glaseado de hielo - de chocolate, vainilla, limón y albaricoque (Assorted ice glace – chocolate, vanilla, apricot and lemon) Michael
Eustania la tienda dulce (Eustania’s Sweet Shop - small morsels of three sponge cakes) Maria
The coffee was passable, but the bread was great.

All the time we are eating dinner, the show is going on in front of us. That was frustrating because as you all well know, if there is something to see, there is a camera in my hands. Still, somehow I managed to eat my fill!

The Flamenco dancers consisted of five women and four men who took turns in presenting various styles of dance – sometimes a solo dancer and other times duos, couples or the whole troupe. It is lively, colourful and noisy – everything that you would expect in a Flamenco Show! The costumes for the women are elaborate and full of fire and movement, while the men are dressed more sombrely. But when it comes to the dance, the men are far more energetic and as the show progresses, we are sure that there is a healthy rivalry amongst the male dancers – especially the three younger ones. While Spanish men are dark and gorgeous, there are a couple of the dancers who just look swarthy – unshaven and with very oily (or oiled maybe) hair. Didn’t expect Valentino, but I must admit, the female in me was a little disappointed!

The women’s performances are more flashy than the men and they use props such as shawls and fans. They also engage more with the audience. The first couple of female dancers are older than what we had anticipated – in their 50s. They are real artists though and a pleasure to watch. When the younger female dancers were on stage, the air positively sizzled. At times they barely swayed, with arched backs emphasising their figures and their hands curling seductively in a beckon. The costumes are certainly designed to be flattering and there would not have been a red-blooded male who was not stirred! Other times there is much swirling and turning and always there is plenty of feet tapping and stamping.

Then as sharply as it started, the show is over – right on the dot of 8:30 pm. The performers rush off stage and disappear out the front doors. I was expecting to see them lining up for photos, but no, with another show starting at 9 pm, I guess they are off to have some refreshments and to slake their thirst – it was very energetic and they were all perspiring by the end. The Japanese all rush to leave – we find them bunched together outside waiting for their bus. So, armed with our memories, a souvenir photo (a photo taken of us stuck onto a cardboard presentation file with clear publicity shots of the performers - €7) and a plastic flamenco fan given to me when we purchased the photo, we leave for a slower stroll back to the Hotel Giralda where we are lodging tonight. As we walk back, there is total traffic chaos with one of the lanes closed to the throngs of vehicles for road works – with the workers hard at it – and the Spanish drivers are no more tolerant of these needed repairs as the Australian ones are!!

No comments: