Cas­tanets far and wide

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

En­rique El Ex­tremeño, Rafael de Carmen, El Torombo, Con­cha Jareño — “in Spain, these peo­ple are su­per­stars,” said Eva Encinias San­doval, founder of the Fes­ti­val Fla­menco In­ter­na­cional de Al­bu­querque. “But here, they get treated like nor­mal peo­ple. They like that.”

Last year’s fes­ti­val was can­celed for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, but Encinias San­doval was able to res­ur­rect this New Mex­ico tra­di­tion, short­en­ing the length from eight to five days this year, but not, she said, com­pro­mis­ing the qual­ity of tal­ent be­ing im­ported from Spain to per­form and teach work­shops. “We take a loss ev­ery year, and this year, a lot of our fund­ing was cut, but our com­mu­nity loves the fes­ti­val, and they de­serve to see fla­menco at its best.” The fes­ti­val runs from Wed­nes­day, June 9, to Sun­day, June 13.

Encinias San­doval, who is a pro­fes­sor of dance at The Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico and es­tab­lished and now runs the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fla­menco, met with Pasatiempo at the In­sti­tute’s stu­dios. A tiny dance stu­dent greeted her with a fe­ro­cious se­ries of stomps and a smile. “She’s got her lla­mada down,” Encinias San­doval said to the stu­dent’s mother. “The lla­mada is the sig­nal given by the dancer to the mu­si­cians to say, ‘ Here I am. Let’s do it,’” she ex­plained.

Encinias San­doval started the fes­ti­val in 1987, as a way to nur­ture her stu­dents. “They needed ex­po­sure to other fla­menco dancers. Oth­er­wise, they wouldn’t un­der­stand how each dancer’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion could be so com­pletely dif­fer­ent.”

Ac­cord­ing to Encinias San­doval, fla­menco be­gan as an ex­pres­sion of Gypsy strug­gle cen­turies ago in the An­dalucía re­gion of Spain, and is a highly struc­tured art form. For one thing, there is the in­ex­tri­ca­ble re­la­tion­ship be­tween guitarra (gui­tar), cante (song), and baile (dance). And then there is duende (soul or pas­sion). These as­pects come to­gether in the theater in a way that com­mu­ni­cates, as Encinias San­doval put it, “deep power.”

The art and “con­stant evo­lu­tion” of fla­menco, then, is in the sub­tleties. Encinias San­doval spoke of how dif­fer­ent artists ap­proach the form. “The in­ter­pre­ta­tion is dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent. [The artists] find a way of cre­at­ing vis­ual and mu­si­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tions that are very in­di­vid­u­ally driven. Take Manuela Car­rasco, for ex­am­ple. She will have long, drawn-out si­lences, then slowly start to sim­mer and then boil, and then ex­plode in these short se­quences of move­ment that just blow an au­di­ence away. Then she stops. And then she be­gins the whole process over again. She’s like a vol­cano.”

Not only are the fla­menco artists dif­fer­ent, but the dance has a dif­fer­ent fla­vor depend­ing on the re­gion of Spain the per­form­ers are from, Encinias San­doval said. The per­form­ers booked at this year’s fes­ti­val come from all over the coun­try. “Manuela Car­rasco and her com­pany are from Seville. Their show is called Sus­piro [Sigh]. Their style is very pow­er­ful but charm­ing. It has an an­ti­quated feel to it.

“Manuel Liñan is from Granada, a part of Spain that is very Gypsy. There are Gypsy neigh­bor­hoods in Granada. They used to live in caves there. The dance is earthy, old-style fla­menco. An­dres Peña and Pi­lar Ogalla are from Jerez de la Fron­tera, which is known for the bulerías (a fast, 12-beat rhythm). Their dance is very ‘rhythmy,’ and that style seems to feed into ev­ery­thing they do. It has a won­der­ful swing to it. It’s play­ful, some­what sar­cas­tic, very dif­fer­ent.” From Madrid comes Con­cha Jareño, who is ap­pear­ing with the well-known con­cert gui­tarist Juan An­to­nio Suarez. “The style is more ur­ban, edgy, so­phis­ti­cated,” Encinias San­doval said. “It’s fast-paced and not as col­lo­quial as in some of the smaller cities.”

Peña spoke to Pasatiempo from his home in Spain. He used the word “spec­ta­cle” to de­scribe the per­for­mance he is plan­ning with Pi­lar Ogalla, his part­ner in life and in dance. He is 34 and has been trav­el­ing as a dancer for more than 10 years. Soleá is his fa­vorite fla­menco style, he said.

Manuela Car­rasco y Com­pañia

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