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Flamenco Inesita

Inesita

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A New Season

On Saturday, August 14, 2021, Inesita will open the new season of performances presented by APAC ( Alhambra Performing Arts Center) under the Artistic direction of William Yee.

Inesita will bring her Company of dancers singers and musicians to the stage of the Sage Granada Park United Methodist Church,

Inesita stars in six of her solos with the collaboration of dancers, singers and musicians in a program of traditional flamenco of Andalucia. Featured are Miguel Bernal, Clarita and Ahmae supported by the music of Stamen Wetzel and Benjamin. plus the Arte Flamenco Ensemble.

The Documentary

A film devoted to the long dance career of INESITA

The project that began on May 25, 2019 was an idea of Claudia Wells, actress ( of Back to the Future fame)and business woman whom I met in 2016.

We were immediately taken with each other as women who had long careers albeit in different worlds of the entertainment industry.

Numerous ideas were germinating in Claudia’s mind to bring my work to a wider commercial public. Ideas were explored in a number of areas such as talk shows; news stories on the major networks and even plans to have makeup and hair styling done. None of these approaches came to fruition as time went on.

The 10th anniversary of my association and collaboration with APAC under the artistic direction of William Yee was an opportunity to film the performance as a starting point. This was accomplished with the permission of Mr. Yee. Only later did I discovered that the footage used was hardly a complete view of my work but merely bits and pieces that highlighted only facial expression and much time on my feet and shoes without any thought  to emphasize my technique. The date was May 25th, 2019.

On May 27th an elaborate crew with a great deal of technical equipment of cameras and lighting was set up in my home and effected an actual movie set to do an Interview with Claudia and me. All the furniture was rearranged to simulate a different scene.

 At this moment it was announced that a 90 minute feature film was to be made. No prior discussion of this was offered to me. I was not given the privilege of deciding if I had any interest in a documentary of my career and life. This seems odd and unfair to say the least! Since the die was cast, there was no turning back. Five hours was spent in this indicial session.  An interview conducted by Claudia herself and me; both of us dressed in glamorous clothes was filmed. A sequence devoted to my playing of the Harpsichord was wasted on up-close camera angles showing the inner workings of the instrument itself and little on my fingers over the keyboard. Some time was spent filming the surroundings of my property with its elaborate gardens front and back. More camera work was done in my dance studio with an explanation of my various percussion instruments such as castanets, tambourine and dance shoes; and the display of posters on the walls of past performances. Not a bad beginning, but it was only an introduction.

The following week later, another date for more footage was set up and an exhausting session of six hours ensued. I realized then that no clear plan or “script” was had. The hard work of six hours was wasted in a haphazard manner. Talk and demonstrations of the dance and a mock “lesson” was done with Claudia as the “student” which did not flatter her and seemed innocuous.

The film used did not show me to advantage and I regarded it as useless.

The following month I was booked into the Havana Bar and Restaurant for a show, (my ninth time) and the last I did. Calix Lewis Reneau became intensely interested in the event and arranged to spend the evening with Mario Colangelo and another lady assistant to film this performance.

When I announced that a small exhibit was set up at UCLA Library in connection with my Archive papers, Calix again was excited to shoot a sequence there. The staff at the Charles E. Young Research Library did not really give us permission but a day was arranged that we meet and do still another shoot.

After that we met two more times in my dance studio to film additional material of my activities. Again, the sessions lacked any specific plan or thought. Calix Lewis Reneau wanted to film me putting in a plea or “pitch” to Martin Scorsese the most prominent figure in the film world because of his early connection with the student indie film at NYU back in 1962/03 when he as the cameraman and three other young film makers became interested in my work as a “flamenco dancer” and were very eager to make a movie of my work. The original film which featured me in three dances with my own guitarist and flamenco singer ( both from Spain, was lost or discarded but “a work print” was made at the time which I had in my possession.  This was eventually uploaded onto YouTube by Robert J Siegel the director of the 9 minute film.

Mr. Siegel was and is a great fan of mine and was interviewed in New York by associates of the production team here in Los Angeles. I have the interview and it is very complementary and it is most precious to me. However Robert seems to have trouble with some of the memories in connection with the work. He relates an incident where I invited him and Scorsese to our hotel for lunch for a Spanish meal. This never happened. I know. No such event took place. My memory remains excellent.

Finally, a concert was set up at El Arte Flamenco Dance Theater in Alhambra. The date was March 14, 2020 and called ‘An evening with Inesita”. This was planned for over a year by Clarita my singer and fellow artist of many years and on the Sunday before, our company of 10 rehearsed for three hours. The weekend of the 14th fatefully saw the outbreak of the pandemic and the sellout house of 150 was reduced to perhaps 20 hardy attendants to the performance. Out of fear of infection by the deadly Covid-19 understandably the film crew also abandoned us due to  their concerns.  It was suggested that because of my advanced age that I, too. should cancel. This I found outrageous and unprofessional and something I would never contemplate.  I was furious that they expected me to do their bidding, To let everyone else down would be totally unfair.  My obligation to the rest of the company was firm.  I regarded this almost insulting and I was incensed by this idea. This does not mean I did not take the virus seriously. I took the risk knowingly. That was my prerogative.

The program was received with great success. Well wishers afterwards were eliminated as a precaution.

Even my wardrobe mistress and her husband, a film art director urged me to cancel and I flatly refused. No one was infected. I received a standing ovation after my final piece.

Following this an additional shoot was in order; and with my connection to Clarita as an artist and close friend,  the crew set up a session at the location and an all day filming session was accomplished on August 28th. A compliance officer was in attendance to ensure safety and we were all required to be tested for Covid. I was negative as was the rest of the crew. I spent an arduous day of an interview on camera and was filmed in five of my costumes doing portions of dances for camera effects. And that was it. No more was or could be done with the virus running rampant through all our lives. I survived due to my strong constitution and immune system and was successfully vaccinated twice with no illness what so ever.

At last some editing was finished and I understand it was done by assistants and not the main producers/cameramen. These were individuals whom I don’t know and don’t know me.

Some of this material is undoubtedly interesting, but the slow motion effects begin to be repetitious; besides the pace cancels out the tensions in the dance patterns. The best passages of my performance seemed to be left out and the judgment of what is exciting or distinctive in my performance is not present. Narration by me used as a voice over is over done and distracts from the actual dancing.. However one item to me is effective and should be retained. At the end of the entire film which they presented, I am heard to say “My name is INESITA and I am a Spanish Dancer”. and then I disappear behind the curtain. A dramatic and special gesture.

At this point, I don’t know what will happen with the work. The production team wishes to continue. I remain dubious whether the results will reveal or impart my personal attitude about the art I have devoted my entire life.

Time will tell.

Flamenco; The Enduring Art of Inesita A Documentary Film by Tina Love (2016)

Inesita performing Zapateado del Estampio c. 2017

The Role of Woman in Flamenco

 

 

Thoughts on the concept of the woman dancing in Flamenco

It is not my custom or desire to comment on world events. I am a person of the theater and remain apart from ideological and political matters. In this one instance I see a parallel to the art to which I have devoted most of my existence.

In the world of events over the last year, I am caught up in a preponderance of conflicting ideas and forces changing the way we live. A disastrous pandemic and political upheaval I have never seen in my lifetime.

I remain liberal in my outlook on the global scene although never progressive or extreme in any sense of the word.

As an artist who has performed in other parts of the globe and have friends of numerous other nationalities and races I consider myself “a citizen of the world.”

To focus on the particular point in this subject, having known Spain and its culture, I found that in most cases, the woman in family life is very strong. I would call it a matriarchal society. This seems to permeate the psyche of the population and I have noted evidence of this.

Waldo Frank, a writer of the 1920’s,  an American, but highly versed in Hispanic Culture wrote about the Spanish speaking world. In his book, “Virgin Spain” (1926) his chapters on the Andalusian Dance and its practitioners, he brings out some facets of this idea.

His writing approach is poetic and symphonic. In descriptions of the performers. I think he saw the essence of the work which we refer to as flamenco. Without writing about the structure or form, his summation of a woman dancing gives a portrait of the true nature of this genre.

Because flamenco is not notated, the score is written as the dance proceeds. The performer is the conductor and guitarists and singers must obey the percussive lead of the dancer. I have put down these comments again and again. The form is poorly understood and rather esoteric and arcane. The responsibility lies on the dancer and to have this knowledge is imperative.

Frank writes “The woman dancing in flamenco is “mother, teacher and priestess.” This is in a symbolic sense. As metaphor, it is not to taken literately.  The signals given in the dance are built in and function to move the dance patterns smoothly one into the other. The llamada, (call) closes the door on the passage just completed and in the same action opens the door to the next.

 Robert Graves, writes in his book ,” The White Goddess”, In Mythology, the two headed god Janus signified a new beginning looking both backward and forward. January is named after him.  But before Janus thousands of years before , a two headed goddess named PostVorta and Antevorta, was a symbol of this concept. She who looked both backward and forward : She had the power to shut what was open and open what was shut, as the hinge which connects the door: the door on which the year swung”

This obviously relates to the Seasonal Pattern on Earth. In prehistoric times the dependence on sustenance from Mother Earth was paramount. Ritual dominated society.

Flamenco is a throwback to the endless chain of the rhythm on our planet. It is Universal.

In an uncanny way the Andalusian dance reflects this because of its very nature. It is a continuum.

This acknowledges that the male dancer also must follow the rules and law of the rhythm ( compás) but the male role seems meant to be a lesser figure within this art. This is not to diminish in any way the dynamics and tremendous artistry displayed by many marvelous male artists.

My message here is leading up to the point that I am a feminist.

I have always been pleased that so many women are holding prominent positions in government all over the world. It is only a hundred years since women were granted the right to vote in the United States and have a voice.

The recent election which includes the vice presidency of a woman is a great lift to me.

Waldo Frank further states that the woman dancing sends a message of “love vision and sacrifice; as opposed to lust, nakedness, and madness”

 

 

 

Portrait of an Artist

Intensive work is continuing on the Inesita documentary about her career and life experience as an artist in this fascinating field.

Here is a photo out of the past taken as an action image in London, England during the two years spent  there..

The Magic of Flamenco (an inside view of this mysterious art)

A Final Shoot

On Friday, August 28, we  essentially did a ‘wrap-up”on  the Inesita Documentary which began on May 25 2019. It was an extremely complicated endeavor and exhausting in its details. The location chosen was El Arte Flamenco Dance Theater The Center for World Dance. Clarita, the dancer and singer conducts her classes, workshops, performances and private lessons under these auspices. Since Clarita and Inesita have worked together very often over the years, this space  was a logical place to work on the Documentary. During the session Inesita was interviewed for the second time to elaborate on her life work and varied career.

An interview was also conducted featuring Clarita herself and her career and  background.  Mario Colangelo  directed and filmed along with the cameraman, Camilo Godoy . Most of the shooting involved capturing  moments from Inesita’s dances which have great scope and variety in the flamenco idiom. The physical activity itself was arduous and more taxing than a full concert evening. The accompanying images are a sample of the actual work and preparation in the filming. Also included are real dance images and a photo of the participants in the session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary on a You Tube Reply

In response to the writer of a recent reply addressed to Inesita on YouTube I wish to clarify some points that are brought up in his very flattering comment on my performance.

I did post an immediate reply thanking the writer for his praise of my work.

In setting the record straight I want to point out that film and video are  entirely different mediums than a live performance in a theater or concert hall or even a club or bar. The making of a dance in film is a process which includes much technology: recording, camera angles, and editing, etc.

I differed with the writer ( whom I am sure is sincere in this commentary) regarding a comparison with the actress, Arlene Dahl. She was a wonderful actress and did a very fine and competent job of her role. Of course she is not a dancer and certainly did not appear “clumsy” playing her part. I also want to point out that dancers are not athletes. The training required to achieve the necessary technique to perform Flamenco dance or any dance discipline is arduous requiring years of study and practice!

The rehearsal of the entire sequence I was involved in took five weeks of shooting, recording and other aspects of movie making. The dance I did was a Farruca, a genuine example of this male style. It contained about nine minutes of material from which Nick Castle, (the marvelous dance director who was responsible for the entire production) selected what he needed from me to fit in to a one minute and twenty-two seconds sequence. The original dance was full length. I had performed this number many times and I was quite familiar with all the elements. The weeks of time spent on the set at Paramount Studios were concerned with the process of film making.

Also, the “pirouettes” I did were of course, Spanish “Vueltas”  or turns out of the vocabulary of Spanish dance.

The gorgeous costume was created by Edith Head, a famous film designer of that era. Amusingly enough this creation had to have on hand two copies of the trousers, three hats, and two pairs of shoes in order to insure that in case of damage there was back up!

All in all I do appreciate these unexpected and very wonderful compliments from the public who have seen the film. It is an honor I treasure. Thank You

The reply from the writer mentioned above: He used the name Flautroy.

“Inesita. Wow. You were fantastic. As a matter of fact, I think you stole that whole first act. You were so good that I stopped the movie and tried to look you up on Google, I saw that short YouTube clip of you doing the Flamenco It was fantastic, You were the best part of the first act of the Movie. Couldn’t believe how fantastic your were. Arlene Dahl looked positively clumsy in comparison to your talent, You are a marvelous athlete. Can you tell us how much you had to rehearse  to get that number down pat? People do not realize how difficult musicals can be and the amount of athleticism and talent that is required. because you make it look  so easy. The fitness level of you actors in musicals is just amazing. That is one of the finest musical numbers that I have ever seen. And the pirouettes. So perfectly executed  and balanced. I was  shocked at how good your were.  and your incredible timing. Your costume was excellent as well. What a fantastic performance!”

 

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