PEÑA FLAMENCA NYC
AFICIÓN with Antonio El Farru
Sun, April 3 • 12:00 PM EST
Don’t miss your chance to hear from Antonio El Farru on what is was like growing up in the legendary Farruco family and touring with the great Paco de Lucía! With narrator Leilah Broukhim.
*Available for viewing through Apr 10.
FROM OUR EVOLUCIÓN COMMUNITY
A WHIRLWIND TRIP
Firsthand Account: Festival de Jerez
by Katie Sun, Developing Artists Participant
If you have the fortune to fall in love with the beautiful art of flamenco, it probably won’t be long before you hear about the famed Festival de Jerez. Taking place in its namesake city, one of the birthplaces of the artform, flamenco aficionados and students from all over the world flock to study with and watch performances by some of the best flamenco artists of today.
At some point in the last decade, as flamenco transformed for me from part-time hobby to full-time obsession, I promised myself I would attend. And this fall, after close to two years of COVID purgatory, I thought perhaps the time had arrived. Four months later, after a flurry of travel planning and many moments of doubt given the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, I found myself on a train bound for Jerez.
The pastoral landscape of the Andalucian countryside passed by in flashes outside my window, and signs for cities like Cadiz and San Fernando filled my mind with flamenco letras featuring these iconic places.
Walking through town on my first day, the streets were buzzing with energy from the festival. One of my friends affectionately referred to it as “Flamenco Camp”. With 15 classes to choose from each week and up to 3 performances per day, not to mention all of the “off-festival” events, it could feel daunting charting a course through the festival.
Once I saw Manuel Betanzos on the roster of teachers, I knew I had to sign up. I’d wanted to study with him ever since seeing him dance in Manuel Liñan’s “Viva” in 2019. Betanzos’ baile was playful and full of salero, overflowing with humor and a love of life. This same energy and love was present in his teaching–over the course of the week, Betanzos made sure that we not only understood the choreography, but also how it functioned within the structure of the piece and what it communicated to the musicians. After each new bit of information he checked in, “Vale, amores?” to make sure we were following along.
In the evenings, at the Teatro Villamarta, the energy of the crowd was palpable. Like the heightened flavor of food seasoned by hunger, watching these remarkable shows after a two year absence of live performance felt, at times, transcendental. Mercedes Ruiz’s victorious caña, Maria Moreno’s haunting and introspective solea, Manuel Liñan’s boundary breaking heavy-metal inspired farruca with abanico; there were simply too many unforgettable moments to capture justly within the confines of this space.
The festival, it turns out, was the perfect antidote to the shared isolation of the past couple of years. In Jerez, I had the fortune to fall in love with flamenco all over again, an artform able to hold in its arms the depths of human experience with all of its joy and beauty, and pain and loss. The opportunity to experience it again–together–was truly a gift.
FROM OUR FRIENDS
Find Your Way, Enjoy the Journey
Whether you dance, sing, play guitar, or just want to learn more about the inner-workings of flamenco, Flamenco Maps is a great resource. Check out this video using legos to explain flamenco rhythms— created by guitarist Guillermo Guillén, who recently played at our Peña Flamenca NYC.
How did the Gañanías influence the role of women in flamenco after the Spanish Civil War?
In our recent Evolución: for Developing Artists class, Estela Zatania shared how after the Spanish Civil War, many families traveled to cortijos (farms) in search of work. The term “gañanía” refers to these work crews as well as the farm’s storage structures where they lived. In the gañanías, close communal living quarters and extremely rustic conditions broke down social barriers that previously prevented women from singing in public, encouraging many female flamenco singers to share their powerful voices for the first time. Some became professional flamenco singers including Tía Anica la Piriñaca, María Bala, Ana Peña, and Juana la de Pipa.