Within the last year, I was notified that a Japanese Magazine, titled PASEO featured news of Flamenco artists around the world and I was informed of an article in reference to a documentary about my career filmed by Tina Love. A black and white image of the page is featured.
It is well known there has been a great deal of “aficion” about Flamenco in Japan for many years.There will be a follow up in coming weeks.
This is one of six dances performed by Inesita and her Arte Flamenco Ensemble.
Video provided by Tina Love Productions. Camera David Bradstreet.
Inesita is a Spanish dance artist who has performed in all-solo concerts around the world including Madrid, London, Paris, New York, Valletta, Malta, and Mexico City. American tours have taken her to communities and colleges from coast to coast. Born in New York City, she moved with her parents to Los Angeles where she was drawn to Spanish dance and Flamenco by its elegance and complexity of rhythms. Further studies took her to Mexico and inevitably to Spain. In recent years she has developed a program of traditional Spanish dances choreographed to the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti where both the music and dance reflect the entire gamut of the Spanish idiom.
Flamenco is an Andalusian folk art, and the specific method, which makes flamenco possible, is found in no other existing music and dance. Inesita demonstrates that the variations show a structure, continuity and emotional content, which identify with aspects of the seasonal pattern of renewal in nature. With the use of metaphors, the flamenco forms are translated into images out of the natural world and at the same time reveal the ambiguity of all forms of art and life itself.
Inesita’s lecture performances follow the format of programs that have been presented at London University, Morley College (a series of three), and Birmingham University in England. Similar performances were done in the United States at Asia House in New York, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and Springfield College in Massachusetts. They also were presented at UCLA and at over thirty-five colleges and universities in Southern California. Because Flamenco music is unwritten, it is open-ended; therefore the dancer pilots the guitarist into interplay of syncopated and crossing rhythms. It is a logical and mathematical system.
In May of 2001, Inesita was presented in concert by the Harpsichord Center in two performances featuring the Scarlatti dances and accompanied on the harpsichord. The event in Brentwood was sold out. Recently she has performed at Casa Sevilla dancing pure flamenco with guitarist and singer. In November 2003 Inesita gave two workshops for the Fiesta Flamenca Dance Company and members of the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas. These dances were performed in a concert sponsored by the Community College in Las Vegas on January 10, 2004. Inesita danced two Scarlatti Sonatas with harpsichord, and appeared in the Escuela Bolera section featuring the dances she taught in the workshops. In the second part of the program she danced pure flamenco as guest artist. In February 2005, Inesita was again presented by the Harpsichord Center in two concerts.
Inesita’s program on October 21 will show “Flamenco” ; the true name which is “CANTE JONDO” in its genuine. traditional form.
As I begin yet another phase of this journey through life as a performer, I am astonished that a renewed energy surges within me. This is due to a culmination of events during the year leading to more interest in my work and surprise as I continue as a Spanish Dancer beyond any expectations I could I have imagined.
The film “Flamenco: The Enduring Art of Inesita” is to have its “Premiere” at the Lady Film Maker’s Film Festival in Beverly Hills California on September 30, 2017. I await a reaction to the content of the documentary which aside from the actual filming and editing of Tina Love is the focus of this Portrait.
I have attempted to present an inside view of this dance form which has not been completely revealed before: an analysis of its structure musically and visually.
A new vision awaits.
Last year, Tina Love, a filmmaker and Flamenco dancer who has danced in Inesita’s productions did a shoot at her studio and home of her career and long running resume in the field of Spanish Dance. It covered many aspects of the work and explored in depth the structure and form of this dance art in addition to some very early background in study and professional appearances in the United States and Internationally. In the 17 minute film. Inesita also plays Scarlatti on her Harpsichord to illustrate the connection and influence of Flamenco in the works of the composer who spent the last 25 years of his life in Spain as composer and teacher to Maria Barbara, the Queen of Spain.
It has recently been acknowledged by Lady Filmmakers as an outstanding documentary about a performing artist and will have its Premiere on September 30th at the 9th Annual Lady Film Makers Festival in Beverly Hills.
Le Catalan and the engagement in 1959-1960
On my first trip to Spain, in 1953, I was deep in study with three different masters of flamenco. On my return by ship, from Gibraltar, I met Juanele Maya and his wife and dance partner, Salome, whom I recognized from Jose Greco’s company. I introduced myself and told them how much I admired them. They were joining Greco on his next tour. Somehow, news spread that dancers were on board, and we were asked to perform. I danced Alegrias, with Juanele accompanying me on the guitar. Salome was feeling ill and did not participate.
After almost a year in Madrid during my studies in 1958-59, with three other teachers, my husband, Bob and I made plans to leave. During this period I did a concert appearance at the Embassy for Ambassador Lodge and Mrs. Lodge, Senor Arielza, Ambassador to the United States from Spain and other important guests. A lecture-performance at the Castellana- Hilton preceded this program. We stopped in Barcelona where I appeared in a show at an establishment with some other artists.
While in Madrid a contact was made with Mr. Cohen, brother-in -law of my friend, Carmen Estrabeau, a Spanish actress and singer whom I knew well. She gave my name to Mr. Cohen. He suggested we contact a Frenchman, Mr. Brueil, who owned a tablao in Paris.
Mr. Brueil visited Madrid every year to contract Flamenco artists to perform at Le Catalan. The restaurant on the Left Bank was the most famous in Paris due to its connection with Pablo Picasso, the great Spanish painter who founded this establishment with a coterie of his friends and artists. In fact, his studio had been in the same building next door to Le Catalan.
In August of 1959, my husband and I found ourselves in Paris during the month when most of the population is on holiday. After an initial stay at a pension on the Rue d’Assas, we found accommodations at Cite Universitaire, in Antony, a suburb of Paris, where we stayed very economically. In Paris we spoke with the bartender at Le Catalan about our interest. We were told the owner would return from Spain on Sept. 4th and we could see him then.
On that day, in Paris again we contacted him to explain my desire to meet guitarists and singers who might be interested in appearing with me in concerts in Paris.
When we arrived, Mr. Brueil told me in Spanish that he needed a dancer for the show because one of the artists he engaged was having difficulty with her visa from Spain.
I did not have my shoes or castanets with me, so I rushed back to Antony, packed the dance shoes, castanets, and a practice skirt and rushed back by train to the tablao. (I had noticed that Juanele Maya whom I had met returning on the ship from Gibraltar was rehearsing upstairs in the dining room.) As I ascended the stairs I saw him and he recognized me from our time on the ship.
When I returned, Juanele was still rehearsing. Everyone was very friendly including Juanele, as we passed over my dances with the guitarists and singers in rehearsal.
I began an Alegrias and the guitarist followed expertly. At the finale of the dance, one of the singers joined in with excellent palmas for support.
I did several dances including the Zapateado. One guitarist was eager to accompany me in this number because of its complex rhythms. All were impressed with my work, so they notified the mother and co-partner of Mr. Brueil, Marguerite, to watch the session. I was asked if I would substitute for Salome.
I opened at Le Catalan in the first week of September and the shows went very well. By the first day Salome did arrive and the scheduled performances were in place. Another female dancer, Laura Toledo completed the list of artists. With two singers and three guitarists we numbered nine performers.
After five days passed, Marguerite arranged to meet with me and the chef who spoke both Spanish and French. The cook translated to Spanish from her French, but since I was aware of the content of her conversation, I actually understood her. She offered a small weekly salary plus an apartment in the building next door for an indefinite time frame. I accepted with the proviso that I be allowed to hire a singer and guitarist from Le Catalan to appear with me in three concerts arranged at the American Center.
Everyone was pleased that I stayed, and both Salome and Laura expressed pleasure that I was part of the ensemble. The Zapateado which I performed each night received the most applause, but generally my dances went over very well with good support from the guitarists and flamenco singers. All were from Andalusia except Laura Toledo. She was of Russian parentage and French speaking due to her schooling in France. She was also fluent in Spanish and in English because of her education in the United States.
This restaurant was considered the finest of its kind in Paris. It was frequented by celebrities and many artists of the dance world including Spain. I always was taken for Spanish and that was pleasing.
The three concerts were successful at the famous American Center on the Boulevard Raspail and I was able to make extra money and receive publicity as well. Living on the Rue de grand Augustin, where Pablo Picasso had his “atelier” added a glamour and interest to the experience. I also was given complete access to the Centre (It actually was very cosmopolitan) and I had use of the gymnasium for rehearsal and the piano. There was a Library and we met many interesting people who became my followers. More appearances were arranged in outlying towns and I contracted other guitarists and singers who were available.
During this period there were some changes in the roster of artists, because of other engagements which came up and the substitutes fit in with little trouble. One aspect I noticed was the tendency of the dancers to watch each other from the sidelines. I often saw at least two pairs of eyes observing me over a screen at the side of the stage. I did the same when I had a chance. Many flamenco artists follow the work of their colleagues and try to copy and incorporate these elements into their own performances. I imagine this occurs in other fields as well.
During the engagement, celebrities came to dine at Le Catalan, among them Marlon Brando, Maurice Bejart, the famous dancer and choreographer, the Spanish stars, Pilar Lopez, and Lola Flores and Mariemma.. From time to time, well known flamenco artists would come by to greet us in the dressing room and sit in the bar below. These included Joselito, the dancer, Rafael Romero, Niño de Almaden, El Pili, and Jarrito, all flamenco singers of note. After about three months Juanele Maya and Salome left, and other dancers were engaged. When different singers were contracted, we collaborated easily on the dances and songs because everyone was experienced. I was received especially well in the bar below. One of the singers commented “tu tienes el duende debajo, Inesita.”
( Inesita, you have the goblin downstairs). I danced on a table where the customers had their drinks. It was the intimacy of the situation which changed the atmosphere and I must have responded with special “aire” or spirit.
After seven months, we realized that this experience although valuable, really led nowhere and I resigned. Everyone was disappointed that I did not stay at least a year.
I did appear on two television shows in connection with Le Catalan. Of course I danced the Zapateado on a table! I included another number, Polo, a very sophisticated flamenco form with the guitarist and singer. This was the work of my teacher in Spain, Antonio Marin.
In March of 1960 we left for England and a new chapter.
In recent weeks, a link to a Flamenco Magazine in Paris, France featured an article about the history of Le Catalan. There were several pages and among them reference to the tablao performance in which I was featured along with about seven other artists; guitarists and singers and dancers. From time to time the cast changed while I was there.
There are two images of mine in the article and a mention of my name in the last page.
Summation of a long career.
Having been a performer since age fifteen in Spanish dance and flamenco, I offer another viewpoint on this esoteric and arcane art.
I was always presented as a soloist from day one. Unless I was engaged as part of a show or concert; or film, television, or some performance featuring other artists, I presented as a one woman show.
Only rarely did I become a dance partner, but this was never part of my experience as a whole. The essence of the Spanish dance and particular case of Flamenco demands a soloist to express the music and dynamics in the work.
Except in the special case of couple dances, the import which it conveys comes over as an individual entity.
As I have written in great detail of my beginnings, I entered the professional as a solo artist albeit not yet seasoned, but with considerable potential.
Entering the profession as a very young person I was fortunate enough to attract much attention due to my youth and appearance and ability. One thing led to another and I was engaged soon in a Civic Light Opera which led to a showcase in a night club. This afforded me visibility to many professionals and opened doors to the film industry and other venues where I could perform to advantage.
In this era, Spanish dance and particularly flamenco was an exotic specialty mostly misunderstood by the public but admired for its flamboyance and excitement. For this reason, I was able to succeed quickly and opportunities poured in. There were so many varied situations in which I could sell my talents.
It is notable that I received so much attention at this time. I had little competition.
Over time and much study, and experience and exposure I developed my own style. However everything evolves and nothing stays the same but moves inexorably on to new ideas. New artists in flamenco arrived on the horizon and influenced one another and allowed more to germinate and grow.
I did not stay in the same mind set but took on new challenges of presentation to avoid stagnation. Because flamenco is unwritten and becomes flexible and open to revision, the enormous evolution of the form was inevitable. I made innovations of my own to encompass other approaches in my Themes from Goya suite which was presented nine times and then moved on to concentrate on making dances to the Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti which enhanced my repertoire. These new versions of the same elements in the music were not always as popular or commercial enough to succeed and prosper as the more popular presentations did, but I believe it is wiser to try other methods than mark time. Even taking on the task of doing lecture-performances expanded the vision to those who would listen! And then I returned to concentrate on pure flamenco! By analyzing the form and structure it was possible to offer more insight into the music, and methods of this art. Flamenco is made up of fragments pieced together and can be altered and rearranged.
In today’s world where footage of shows can be quickly transferred to the Web, the visual becomes an interpretation which can grab attention in a way that a live performance may not.
Video and film is actually another medium and the impact is distinct from a live performance in a theater or tablao setting. The perception changes. Having had footage of film or video within the past sixty years or thereabouts showing my work the progression of altered structure becomes very obvious.
It is said that “one picture is worth a thousand words “and so I have included much of what has been recorded over this period. It is almost tragic that so much of the great dancing of the distant past has been lost due to lack of the technology. In short, this has been a boon; or perhaps there is a downside as well. Nevertheless, there is still nothing like a live performance and its immediacy to the spectator.
So I leave these musings with the public and let them decide.