Flamenco Alhambra March 18, 2017
All is in readiness.
Practice and planning, rehearsals, lists, the moment is drawing near. Anxiety, anticipation, exhilaration.
Bill Yee is finishing his introductory remarks. He commands the audience to shout Ole three times. They obey. The mind focused. The curtain opens.
I sit straight in the chair, Stamen at my right. I begin the castanet’s dry commentary and the guitars follow. I rise slowly from the chair which has been draped in a black mantilla from some long forgotten past and move into the dance. The music is over-amplified and there is distortion. As the initial falseta resolves into the ending remate, Clarita bursts into the first verse of the song and we dance, the three of us La nubia, Jani, and I. We move together into the heart of the Fandango. It finishes as the curtain slowly closes while the dance goes on.
Back to the dressing room to change quickly as if in a dream and the program goes inexorably on. I wait in the wings and we are thrust into Alegrias as if into another realm. One variation into another interspersed with song piercing the music and finally into the naked pulse of the rhythm. The momentum continues until the wild tempo of Bulerias hits the climax and I exit into the wings. I change and I am another character in the parade of dances.
Interrmission, and a breath of rest.
Half done. I sit at the piano. Calmer now as I play to accompany the guitars. Sevillana, Solea. Clarita joins us and she plays her castanets as the vivid Panaderos de la Flamenca enlivens the music and the percussive chords and arpeggios of this most Spanish of dances.
Time moves and we dwell in the last of this journey. The sober Farruca I dance is a foreshadowing of what is to come. At last, I don the black falda with the cola, the accessories and the manton, the red corals for my ears, the russet high “peineta” a long ago gift from my friend Margarita Silva, opera star of the 1920’s. I am ready.
The curtain parts again and I begin marking of the Seguiriya compas. Guitars join in and I turn my body to beat an obligato on arms and hips to send the rhythm forward. I signal for the Martinete and the anvil responds to the hypnotic insistent sound of time. Clarita sings Martinete from the depths of her being of endless sorrow. From that comes an answer. The compas is transferred to the feet as they make a dance that repeats the feeling in the song. We are locked into the rhythm and cannot escape. The dance moves into the second verse of the Seguiriya and reaches the heart. I lean back as if in a vise of tension. At last the ending approaches. I beat out with my feet an answer. The rhythm adventures into a labyrinth of conflicting emphasis and finally works through to the steady, ruthless stamps to climax and stops abruptly in stillness. The castanets begin the compas and the anvil strikes. Clarita begins the wail and howl of the “tona”. I rotate in place winding in the dress as it wraps my legs in a tight embrace. The song and anvil continues in an endless chain. The curtain slowly closes. Done!
All that remains now is to dance and frolic at last to chase the melancholy and tragic mood with the Dionysian wildness of Bulerias!
The Curtain is closed. Over.
Dromena; the thing done. The ancient Greek word for drama. The action in the dance is drama. Now the world is reborn in the Spring!
The curtain will open again. I promise.