On Saturday, October 27, 2018, 7 P.M. INESITA and her Flamenco Ensemble will return to the Stage of the Alhambra Performing Arts Center for a performance of her Flamenco dance pieces.
With the collaboration of her fellow artists, INESITA will offer her variety of dance forms in a concert format.
Each presentation shows a special character and feeling all its own.
Miguel Bernal, a brilliant dancer and singer is featured in his own solos. Clarita, singer and dancer with her charismatic personality will perform with INESITA and on her own; La Nubia will perform two dance selections. All are supported by the solid guitar accompaniments of Stamen and Benjamin.
Flamenco dance and song with its depth and strong traditions and powerful feelings reaches out to all humanity in its message.
Inesita is looking ahead to more performances. Working on repertoire and revising old material. We must not stand still. To expand and grow is what makes the life of a performer exciting. Onward and upward!!
In the stories I have posted there is very little about my personal life which I kept mostly private. I regarded the existence I lived apart from the theatrical profession lacks color and interest in comparison. I feared any narrative I revealed would be a great disappointment to the public in view of the glamour and mystery that the stage presents.
Now, after so much time which have been given me by some kind fate, or conversely a curse to live on beyond any expectations of my own, I feel compelled to set the door ajar a bit to the hidden self.
I regret being a timid and shy person unable to relate well to others. I envied anyone who is happily social and free of fear. But as it is, I offer apologies to those who see this flaw in me.
I have been told by friends and acquaintances that it was wonderful to see me “open up” when I perform. Apparently my own personality disappears into the dance and I become another.
This preamble leads to very early references of my beginnings. As told in other “blogs” I was surrounded by a very musical and artistic environment of my parentage and there seemed no other life that I wanted to live.
Being an only child and only grandchild, (my father had no siblings), I was doted on by all the adults in my life. Spoiled? Without a doubt.
Here then is a small view of those tender years. A photo of a little pink ballet dress –a tunic really, sewn by my beautiful paternal grandmother, Aurelia. Somehow this was saved through the vicissitudes of life in good condition. A faded snapshot taken at four years of age while posing in a costume made by a dear friend of my parents It does not show its sequins and beads. The shadows in the image made my knees appear bruised or dirty. There were no smart phones then!!
And now as I appear today.
I remain humble and grateful for more time to do what I love and share with those who honor me with their presence. I ask forgiveness if I sound maudlin. Having lived through so many epochs in my chosen profession, I am a link to the past. Just as flamenco joins past to present in its method; so the endless chain of rhythmic pulses are totally in the moment and yet completely out of time. Although I gaze back from the here and now, I do not dwell in the past. Since I embraced technology sufficiently to write this way to the world, it has added another dimension to my life.
So many explanations have been offered about the mysterious element “Duende” and what it is. Is it some magical mode of being achieved in the process of performing flamenco? Can it be called up at will?
I wish to add my voice to the many interpretations of this word. The Spanish language dictionary gives a definition as ghost, fairy, elf, goblin, etc, No reference to flamenco at all. A further definition it offers is “something that turns up unexpectedly.”
I have written at length of my own beginnings in this artistic expression, therefore I don’t want to become redundant.
When I began study in this dance form I never heard the word flamenco. I was taking classes in Spanish dancing with Michael Brigante, an Italian-American who had a marvelous body placement and excellent castanet technique. This along with ballet classes was how I spent my first two and one half years learning Pasodobles, Jota, Bolero, Sevillanas and a number of stylized dances to Spanish music by composers such as Falla, Albeniz, Turina, Valverde, and others. The accompanist was a pianist. I left Brigante after this initial experience in the art.
My next teacher Jose Fernandez, concentrated his classes on the theater dances with superb castanet technique scored to the music as an instrument. We had only written piano music to dance to. Actually, I was given this instruction free of charge. This came about through my friendship with Janet Riesenfeld who introduced me to Fernandez. He was interested in me as a potential dance partner. This never developed as I have explained in other posts. I spent several months with Fernandez and then enrolled in classes with Carmelita Maracci, a wonderful artist in ballet and her own distinctive style of Spanish forms. She too was marvelous with the castanets. It was while working with her for a certain time that I first heard the word “flamenco” There was no guitarist, only a pianist. Later in the early 1950’s I studied in Spain under El Estampio, ( Juan Sanchez) in addition with Regla Ortega, and Antonio Marin. ( teacher of Eduardo Serrano, (El Guito). As I have written in other posts, I took classes with Alberto Lorca and the Pericets, and I studied the Muiniera with a specialist. In all that period, no mention of “Duende”
So it went. I first began to dance with guitar on tour in the 1940’s. From that time on, I performed several flamenco dances along with the expected theater pieces and the inclusion of regional dances from other provinces of Spain. An aficionado once published a tribute to me in a Santa Barbara newspaper as discovering an “exaltation” in my dance. It might have been another version of this special feeling.
During the number of months I danced at the famous tablao in Paris known as “Le Catalan”, I was told by one of the flamenco cantaores that I had the Duende while dancing in the Bar below. ” Inesita, tu tienes el Duende abajo” Perhaps the intimacy and special environment of the room where I performed on a table created the Duende in me. Difficult to say. In my view, the spirit surged in that small space and invoked a special mental and emotional feeling which took over.
I think Duende is being totally focused on the dance and music plus concentration and complete control of the material. It is notable that in the other forms of Spanish dancing such as the regional, the Escuela Bolera and stylized dances Duende is not mentioned. Contrary to what is generally regarded as “self-expression” in any art, I believe the dancer disappears into the work to reveal another entity.
While I was in New York concertizing in solo programs a critic from Dance Magazine wrote that “the soul of Spain had invaded the body of Inesita and she was dancing to set it free” Duende? Who knows?
Perhaps I was drawing on some reserve of energy after a long program and the concentration was intense. Another critic in London declared that I had no trouble summoning up the Duende. A lovely compliment and a way of praising my work which was much appreciated ! Most of the time, I soldier along hoping that the audience feels what I am trying to convey. So there you have it.
I leave to others to ponder the meaning of this inexplicable state of being.
In thinking of past and present shows of all sorts in my career, I find it especially interesting to experience the various ways the public reacts after the dancing is over. Having danced in so many situations from cabaret to concert and back again, the individual venues offer a variety of ways in which the audience responds.
In some instances, there is no feedback due to custom or other factors which prevent a follow up. In many bookings, as in years gone by, there are reviews afterwards in newspapers, articles in publications, letters from management, faculty or admirers.
In recent times, concert appearances are followed by well-wishers backstage after a show, visits to the dressing room, or other “green room” contact.
A notable case is appearances at the Havana Restaurant and Bar where the show is presented in a very intimate setting. In the immediate moments after the last dance and song is done, the audience surrounds the performer upon descending from the tiny platform.
It is uplifing to be greeted in this way without delay by friends, acquaintances, fellow artists, and strangers eager to make physical contact and to express pleasure in what they have witnessed.
Apart from this, in today’s world when a phone takes a photo, it requires little more than pointing the device at the subject. An instant, and it is there!. Furthermore, having a picture taken together with people whom I do not know, or only casually is a special tribute.
Above all, it is satisfying to realize that my dance moves someone to express a feeling to me.
In 2006, I traveled to Spain for a special event which seems unrelated to the subject of Flamenco, but in a number of ways was important to me as it concerned the music of Domenico Scarlatti. This event was under the auspices of FIMTE the International festival of Spanish Keyboard Music. ( Festival Internacional de Música de Tecla Española )
I have written extensively about my involvement in the Sonatas he wrote as the significant influence of flamenco music and dance made an enormous impression on Scarlatti while he lived in Spain during the last twenty-five years of his life. The more than a dozen works I presented in dance form was augmented by my additional study of the music itself on piano and later on the harpsichord. As I have written previously, I performed these dances I made over a period from 1970 to 2005 in various concert appearances.
As a musician, Scarlatti, could not help be drawn to the richness and variety of the rhythmic complexities of Flamenco in all its manifestations and his compositions reveal this in many ways.
I have found examples of numerous Spanish forms in his music and I was inspired to make dances from this material because the sonatas I chose for them uncannily matched the flavor of the orginals. Dances such as those from Aragon, Castile, Galicia, as well as rhythmic sections reflecting the essence of flamenco such as Tientos, a very old flamenco form, and in one case the melodic strain of “el Vito “ is very evident in Scarlatti’s musical works. This particular Sonata is K. 119 in D Major. Not the least is an outstanding example of his interpretation of the famous “Bolero” out of the history of Escuela Bolera material. This Sonata is listed in various catalogs.
With this in mind, I attended the Symposium which concentrated on the subject of Scarlatti’s impressionistic music, his methods of construction, and his inspiration from Spain. The event held in Mojácar, on the Andalusian south coast near Almeria featured a week of lectures, concerts and discussions. I took a friend with me to facilitate the trip which was a little more than one week.
While there I did broach the subject of one of my theories about a particular sonata which contained a passage very reminiscent of El Vito. It was not a copy of the melody but had a similar lilt and texture in triple time. When I spoke with one of the participants about this, she was amazed about my discovery in one of the Sonatas. She was familiar with the song and dance “el Vito”.
It was a fascinating experience. Musicians of that specialty from all over the world attended and it terminated with a grand dinner on the premises of a hotel in the town. We had excellent accommodations in a small family run hotel in the town of Mojácar. The actual center for Fimte is located in Almeria, but all the workshops, concerts, and discussions were held in this tiny community.
The trip over from Los Angeles was a flight to London and then another flight on Iberia Airways to Madrid where we finally took a small plane to Almeria. From there we traveled in a taxi to Mojácar as there was no transportation available to take us there. A real adventure!
There had been a delay in our flight from London to Madrid as the plane was late and we missed the first concert. We did arrive soon enough to attend a short harpsichord concert and a cocktail party reception.
During the discussions I had another conversation with one of the guests about the idea I had which related to the Tientos, a very old flamenco rhythm I detected in Sonata K. 545 in B major. This was in Alla Breve time. He thought I should submit a paper about this finding. Subsequently I did send in my proposal at a later date. The response was that the subject was “very interesting” but apparently they had a large amount of submissions and were unable to consider it at the time.
As I have indicated in a previous article, teaching has not been my special interest and has always been a private enterprise offered to those interested in coaching and serious study of Spanish Dance, flamenco, and the other forms of the dance art of Spain.
However, in the past a number of opportunities came up during my career to give master classes in a special situation.
The first of these occurred when I returned after my concert season on the East Coast and I had established a reputation. There was around the 1950’s an Organization known as the California Association of Dancing Teachers based in Los Angeles. I was approached by a dance teacher I knew for years to do a Master class and this was presented sometime in 1955.
A year later in Mexico City, in connection with two concerts I did in the Capital I presented a master class at a local dance Academy, the Carmela Burgander Spanish Dance School.
While in London, doing concerts and lecture- demonstrations on Flamenco in particular, I was invited to present a master class/lecture-demo for the Imperial Society of Dancing Teachers in London. It was held at Victoria Halls, London. This was undoubtedly a prestigious assignment and it was received enthusiastically. This occurred in 1961 during the two years I spent in England. When I did two concerts in Liverpool presented by the English Speaking Union I was asked to do a master class in a local dance school while in that city.
I was also approached by a Dance teacher who attended the event in London, and had an Academy of Dance in Philadelphia. When I returned to New York she contracted me to do a master class at her school in 1962.
As time went on, and I did have a period of teaching privately in Los Angeles during the years 1970 to 1993, I conducted a master class at UC Irvine around 1990. These classes usually featured extensive verbal explanations.
In more recent years, I conducted master classes in Las Vegas during a concert there, and one more in the Los Angeles area principally on the Escuela Bolera.
An Over View I have always been somewhat pedantic in my approach to the dance art of Spain. Initially, I was as many others attracted to the fascinating form of dance and music which is popularly known as “flamenco”. This is a natural perception experienced by almost everyone. However. there are many facets musically and aesthetically. The reason for this is that there is a blending of native or folk elements in performance as opposed to theater presentations. I have written in much detail about the subject because of my vast experience in my performing life and the many associations I have had with other artists. It has been the result of lifelong study as well as endless exploration which leads to one revelation after another. The Spanish dance, which of course, includes flamenco, takes into its embrace the different provinces of the Iberian Peninsula and each one of the special materials peculiar to that region. Each province uses diverse instrumentation, styles, and songs and is rich in nuance. The only form which is not written is flamenco because it is handed down from one generation to another as an oral tradition. Each form or “palo” has a special character but all are “song rhythms” evolving from distant cultures.
The Andalusian gypsies and other natives to that region have an obvious advantage to be born into the flamenco environment that makes it possible for them to learn it in very early childhood as a language of forms. For those of us not from that culture it has to learned as a second language. With much study, diligent practice, observation and exposure ( and hopefully with some natural gifts!) it can become a part of the life experience.
There have been so many influences over the decades that altered the understanding. New ideas abound and this is not destructive but enriches as these new concepts evolve.
Flamenco is Eastern in character. The tones are closer together than in Western music and therefore present a mournful and mysterious impression. In this way it affects the emotions in a different manner. I cannot over emphasize the importance of seeing Spanish dance and particularly the structure of Flamenco as embedded in musical form. Compas in the dance and musical is vitally important. Without rhythm there is no music. The organization of time in music and dance is fundamental. In Flamenco, the guitarist follows the dancer who puts down the beats for the guitarist who reads it as a score. Sometimes the melody or falseta begins on a third count or 2nd beat. The entrance of a particular strain rarely commences on the first beat of a bar. This fact can sometimes be confusing to the beginner who may not understand musical structure. There frequently is controversy over what is flamenco. What categories do the various rhythms fall into? One view is that flamenco or cante Jondo, ( deep song) can only be performed with guitar as an unwritten form. This is the true nature of the dance, song, and music. Often, it is asked whether Sevillanas is flamenco. Of course it is. It is accompanied by guitar. However it can be written down. One outstanding feature of the Sevillanas ( actually a form of Seguidillas) is that it is a couple dance and therefore differs from a dance such as Alegrias, Solea, Seguiriyas, Bulerias which is normally of any length. A sevillana is always the same length fitted to the verse. Fandangos( there are a number of versions ) are also measured to the length of the copla and that is the principal difference. The Spanish dance as I have pointed out so often in many ways can be regional; folk dances of Castille, Aragon, Galicia, and Valencia. These have various instrumental musical accompaniments and are NOT flamenco. The balletic 18th Century style of the Escuela Bolera, and important category as a vocabulary of the Spanish idiom must be included. Lastly, the theater dance or stylized presentations which contain elements of Flamenco, folk material, and the Escuela Bolera used to be more popular than is today. This kind of performance is considered Impressionistic and must be accompanied by written music as a composition. It is a complicated subject and I present this as my view after a lifetime of exposure.