What is Flamenco?

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Maria Anisimova
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What is Flamenco?

Post by Maria Anisimova » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:18 pm

I happened to see the Carlos Saura movie called "Flamenco". Wonder, if anyone has seen it? Anyway, after watching it I started to hate a) Carlos Saura b) Flamenco c) Paco de Lucia. Somehow I always associated Flamenco with something beautiful, energetic, full of life. The way the director presented it was middle-aged or elderly people either shouting or wailing, dancing with tortured faces, strumming the guitar either deafeningly loud or barely audible. I understand he intended to show "Argentinian people as they are", not beauties, but I have a strong feeling he overdid it quite a bit. And Paco de Lucia was no better in this film. So now I totally don't understand, what is the essence of Flamenco? What is real Flamenco?
PS Don't kill me right away. I am merely confused and irritated because I expected something totally different from the movie.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by John Ross » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:27 pm

Matilda wrote:"Argentinian people as they are"
This is a whole new dimension of trolling.

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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Maria Anisimova » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:49 pm

I did not mean to say anything unpleasant about Argentinian people. What I mean was that the director intended to show common people, not only the exceptionally beautiful or exclusively talented ones. I am sorry if the quotation sounded rude.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:57 pm

Well, beyond the highly percussive style of guitar, it includes performers of percussion, vocals and dancers. It is also accompanied by brightly colored costumes and flowing floral dresses that are used to great effect. The other thing I really like about flamenco is the respect for the elders. You see the Brazilian dancers and it's all about how much skin is displayed. Traditional flamenco honors the elder performers as artists, regardless of youth and beauty. It is also a rich historical tradition that bespeaks the gypsy influence, and until recently, if I'm correct, was very much aural and not written down. The demands that form has placed on instruments lead to louder guitars with faster action. So it is much more than a badly produced, barf inducing movie.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by guitarrista » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:36 pm

Matilda wrote:I did not mean to say anything unpleasant about Argentinian people. What I mean was that the director intended to show common people, not only the exceptionally beautiful or exclusively talented ones. I am sorry if the quotation sounded rude.
You do know flamenco is Spanish, originating in the southern Spanish province of Andalucia, right? Famous director Carlos Saura also made "Tango", which indeed features Argentinian dancers, but they are dancing argentine tango, not flamenco. The flamenco dancers in this movie are definitely Spanish.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by guitarrista » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:45 pm

Matilda wrote:I always associated Flamenco with something beautiful, energetic, full of life. The way the director presented it was middle-aged or elderly people either shouting or wailing, dancing with tortured faces, strumming the guitar either deafeningly loud or barely audible.
Unlike current North-American culture where people older than 30 do not seem to (have the right to) exist, in Spain (and especially flamenco gypsy culture) it is quite normal to intermingle with people of all ages. The older you are, the more respect you are accorded. In Saura's "Flamenco", the director wanted to show real, authentic gypsy flamenco, and showcase well established, as well as some younger, stars. Naturally, this meant a lot of older fabulous flamenco dancers. Their life is full of beauty, energy, and passion, like that.
Last edited by guitarrista on Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by John Ross » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:25 pm

Matilda wrote:I am sorry if the quotation sounded rude.
No, it wasn't particulary rude, I really thought you were pulling our legs, do excuse me. There are lots of things you haven't understood about flamenco, I feel, including:
- As has been said, it is Spanish, not Argentinian. Argentina has interesting musical manifestations of its own, doesn't need flamenco.
- You say "beautiful, energetic, full of life," which flamenco is, but primarily it is very intense. And while it is beautiful, it isn't particularly pretty.
- Flamenco has traditionally been performed in places where performers have had to be really loud to make themselves heard.
- Flamenco is so exotic, many people think it is a lot more oriental in nature than it really is, which is not very. Portuguese fado is a bit like that too.
- Flamenco is too complex for its "essence" to be summarised in a few words.
- Carlos Saura is a brilliant film maker, but makes no concessions, and there are easier things to watch if you delve around Youtube, for example. You should know, though, that flamenco performers in general consider "Flamenco" a great work.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Keith » Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:08 am

As it already has been noted, the performers in the movie were Spanish and not Argentinians. if you could not get flamenco from this movie you will not get it! The movie showed flamenco as it is and not a fluff performance for those who do not understand flamenco.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:25 am

guitarrista wrote:
Matilda wrote:I always associated Flamenco with something beautiful, energetic, full of life. The way the director presented it was middle-aged or elderly people either shouting or wailing, dancing with tortured faces, strumming the guitar either deafeningly loud or barely audible.
Unlike current North-American culture where people older than 30 do not seem to (have the right to) exist,
Ole' Thank you.

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I was at a flamenco show about ten years ago, a very fine dancer had just done a long sequence of footwork. This little girl seated near the edge of the stage said to her mother, " Mommy, why is that woman mad at the floor?"

That was funny.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Near the same time I took a date to see a flamenco show, the dancer was Concha Vargas. The date was taken aback when Concha came on stage and at the break between halves we went to the bar, as you do at flamenco shows. She said I thought flamenco dancers where supposed to be young, that woman reminds me of mother. I was nice, I said flamenco dancers often get better as the age because when youth falls aways they can't prop themselves up on youthful beauty. They mature as artists when they get older etc....she was not buying it. Well I was not selling it, why sell it?
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by MessyTendon » Tue Jun 28, 2016 2:34 am

Flamenco is song and dance...with percussive dancers and musicians. If you want to listen to more modern refined Flamenco artists listen to Paco Pena. Sabicas is the classical guitarist of the flamenco world, nobody did it like him. Carlos Montoya also fit's the bill of modern solo refined flamenco music. Look up Elliot Fisk with Paco Pena...that's some fun stuff.

Solo flamenco is more modern. Traditional flamenco is folk music, it's the real essence. I personally saw Paco De Lucia perform and I had the best dancers, best singers and was kind of bored. I guess his presence was just that of a tired old performer and I felt like he was homesick or something. But honestly it's a dramatic music, it's supposed to be fun and whimsical.

I think the institutionalized flamenco is what is boring...Paco was with world class musicians and I was bored. Honestly I'd rather listen to mediocrity with a drunken bar and some tapas.

Flamenco is beautiful music, variable music and I think you just have to like dance and not be uptight about it. Just let your inner duende flow.

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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:30 am

Matilda wrote:I am merely confused and irritated because I expected something totally different from the movie.

Flamenco is a big subject- Saura made another film called 'Sevillanas', it more about the pageantry of a spring fairs in Spain. It's more pretty. There are lot of styles under the big tent of flamenco, a lot of it is not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that. Personally I like a fraction of what gets labeled flamenco, the rest I don't follow.

Radio Nacional de Espana has a podcast every week on contemporary happenings in flamenco- try it for a few weeks and if something hits go seek it out. If not then maybe ballet or jazz is more for you. It's free, one hour a week.

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/nuestro-flamenco/
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Alan Green » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:34 am

Matilda wrote: Somehow I always associated Flamenco with something beautiful, energetic, full of life.
That's Tourist flamenco
Matilda wrote: The way the director presented it was middle-aged or elderly people either shouting or wailing, dancing with tortured faces, strumming the guitar either deafeningly loud or barely audible.
Correct. That's the real stuff.

There's a good flamenco podcast - Subscribe to "Nuestro Flamenco" from RTVE on iTunes or go via the "Radio a la carte" tab on the RTVE.es website - which features the real stuff as well as Nuevo flamenco and flamenco fusion. If you can speak Spanish you'll be able to follow the conversations/ interviews - I can't, so I get it for the music.

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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:56 am

FWIW, I always hated Paco de Lucía. Carnegie Hall Flamenco is how I branded his superficial flash.
I had some good cassettes once, including just cante hondo, but they went the way of all cassettes. My gf then was Argentinian, but she had lived in Spain. We didn't discuss if there was flamenco in Argentina. Argentinian tango is originally from Sicily. All I have now is some Manitas de Plata stuff and not much else.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by guitarrista » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:07 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:Argentinian tango is originally from Sicily.
Umm, no, it is not. But that would go off on a tangent not related to this thread, I suppose.
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Re: What is Flamenco?

Post by Rasqeo » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:35 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:FWIW, I always hated Paco de Lucía. Carnegie Hall Flamenco is how I branded his superficial flash.
I had some good cassettes once, including just cante hondo, but they went the way of all cassettes. My gf then was Argentinian, but she had lived in Spain. We didn't discuss if there was flamenco in Argentina. Argentinian tango is originally from Sicily. All I have now is some Manitas de Plata stuff and not much else.
Wow, that's a pretty incredible statement regarding Paco de Lucia. I assume you wanted to be controversial. Well done, mission accomplished.

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