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Flamenco Inesita

Inesita

Two important Flamenco Forms

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Two important flamenco forms are the Soleá and the Farruca. Both are performed by female dancers as well as men in the masculine style. The Ciqüeña or “stork” step is used often in the Farruca and the Zapateado evoking the equestrian aspect during the choreography. 

The Soleá expresses sadness without resignation or often a struggle against odds. The dance patterns are a battle against forces of  nature and the emotional content is conveyed by the tensions and kinetic energy.. The dance becomes a battle between opposing forces.

 

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Ruminations on Flamenco

.Rumminations on Flamenco

That word which for so  many decades appears to stand for all dance expression of Spain has acquired a meaning apart from its true definition. The  name for the flamboyant art form is Cante Jondo or Deep song. Or more succinctly; profound.  Essentially flamenco is Andalusian.

As is generally known, the dance, song and music of this genre was born in Andalucia in the south of Spain. The special aspects that are admired world-wide are the tensions and energy of movement, the stark tonal contrasts of the song and grittiness of the instrumentation along with percussive counterpoint penetrating the basic beat. It excites the senses as no other form in the ethnic vocabulary. Many years ago, Antonio Triana, the great Spanish Flamenco dancer and father of Luisa Triana, told me ” Inesita, you are only performing dances of one province, Andalucia!”  in fact the material I knew at the time was basically arrangements of flamenco rhythms and melodies adapted to a written score.

Strangely, within Spain it is not always appreciated as widely in other parts of the world.

In recent posts and comments I have made on social media and on my own Website Flamenco-Inesita, I related two experiences about hearing serious disparaging remarks about the form and its practitioners which shocked me at the time. One was from a respected flamenco guitarist who accompanied me in Madrid at the opening of the Castellana Hilton in 1953 and another instance in the same year, of a prominent Spanish dance teacher in Spain whose references to flamenco and the people who perform as very low class!

 To place this subject in perspective, I must point out that in some ways it is understandable. Having been exposed to many different forms of Spanish Dance throughout my career, I know the wonderful examples of dances and songs of different provinces and have had the privilege of learning some of these pieces and in addition the pleasure of performing them.

Knowing people from other parts of Spain and their fierce pride and knowledge of the special material they offer has been an honor.

 In my view, I see a reason for the outstanding popularity of Flamenco. It is the only thing that sells! Of course. It’s exciting. Mesmerizing. And the stage wardrobe is so visually appealing.  Above all, its sensuality attracts the public.  No one could have been more enamored of Spanish Dance than I. From my early ‘teen’s” I felt a fascination so overwhelming that I wanted to devote my life to doing this and developing my skill and knowledge.  It was so special. There were many pitfalls along the way and it was never easy.

 In my early studies, with Michael Brigante, an Italian American dancer and teacher of classical Ballet who was versed in the basic vocabulary of the Iberian dance forms I was introduced to the Spanish dance.  In this I had my initial introduction to this dance expression. Apart from daily classes in traditional ballet, there were two classes a week in Spanish dance concentrating on castanet technique. We learned Pasodobles, Jota, Bolero in addition to theater or stylized pieces to written music of Spain’s composers. These last included choreographed arrangements to music of Albeniz, Granados, De Falla, and some other popular works. We even were given introduction to some of the Mexican folkloric material such as Jarabe Tapatio, and Chiapenicas,  augmenting the repertoire more widely. Not once did I hear the word Flamenco!

 After two and one half years, I left Brigante to continue exploration of the work with José Fernandez, a brilliant dancer and teacher and player of castanets. Later I attended classes with Carmelita Maracci, a great artist who had a marvelous ballet technique in addition to her own individual style in Spanish dance and expanded my horizons further into the art of dance.

Around this period, I finally heard the magic word FLAMENCO!

 Subsequently, I had an opportunity to learn some dance routines in a more theatrical style from friends who were professional performers.  These dances to written music gave me the necessary tools to enter the entertainment profession. In initial years I joined the various organizations such as Actor’s Equity, AGVA and SAG and other Organizations in order to work.  

 I was able to finally earn a living doing what I adored.

As it turned out in my case, it was about 10 years before I had the occasion to dance with guitar. And I began at the top! Circumstances led to my connecting with the well known, flamenco guitarist, Carlos Montoya. At the time the only dance I was versed in for guitar was the Farruca which I had learned to dance with piano or orchestra, Fortunately, the structure of the dance was fitted with the authentic compás of this style and my first foray as a flamenco dancer was a success. Two years later, I had another marvelous opportunity to work with Jeronimo Villarino, a Spaniard from Huelva in the south of Spain and this great flamenco guitarist and singer was an inspirational and encouraging force in the ongoing journey I was lucky enough to enjoy.

In the ensuing years I had more and more contact with other guitarists; some much younger and the result was an astonishing list of approximately fifty flamenco players who crossed my path in one way or another and added to my overall exposure.  Along with the musicians, I met and worked with flamencos singers in various situations and this presented another avenue for new insights into Jondo forms. These contacts occurred in Los Angeles, Mexico City, Madrid, Paris, London and New York City.

 In the subsequent years, as life went on, I had the opportunity to study in Spain with masters such as the legendary “El Estampio” ( Juan Sanchez) in addition to Regla Ortega, Antonio Marin and others such as the Pericets and Alberto Lorca, In this way, I expanded my vision of the dance, song, and guitar in all its richness of forms.

 Lastly, is a contact with an American, one Stamen Wetzel, who was a devoted student of Villarino for a period of seven years until the master’s death in 1972. Stamen sat at the feet of his revered teacher and mentor and absorbed all that Villarino taught him. By some twist of fate, I met Stamen in 1970.  This occurred, when his late wife attended a concert I did in that year.

Ever since we have been fellow artists and collaborators in flamenco art we so admire. In the interim, I also was accompanied by other flamenco players when different situations came in to play. Our artistic activities have endured over a half century!

 Even though as time passed and I became more and more knowledgeable in the structure of genuine Jondo dance, I remained faithful to the early love of regional dances with their outgoing, refreshing exhilarating character. It was always a relief, to change the atmosphere from the intense feeling and dramatic Cante Hondo and create another mood for an audience. As years passed and I had the opportunity to learn more and more of the dance forms of Aragon, Castile, Galicia and Valencia, I felt  enriched and gratified by these associations I was lucky to find. As someone with a musical background by my parentage and grandparents, I enjoyed the challenge of working with the intoxicating music of Spain’s classically trained musicians who depicted the essence of Spain’s genius for dance in their works. These pieces reflected the rhythmic elements of flamenco and the rich melodic content of song. The difference was in the presentation as theater or stylized rather than in its raw state. In a word, impressionistic.

 Apart from this experience, the Escuela Bolera School dance offers the serious performer another outlet in the elegant and studied technique of ballet. translated into the Spanish personality.

Above all I say there is more to Spain’s gift to the world.This is not to deny the popularity of Flamenco.

Due to my desire to know and understand other dances of the various regions of Spain, I developed an extensive repertoire which enabled me to perform as a soloist for many years. The idea of a “one women show” was a daring effort, but somehow I succeeded in establishing a respectable reputation and achieved sufficient recognition allowing a “career” in the dance world. However, nothing lasts forever, styles change: there are other points of view, and new artists come before the public with a fresh approach to the art and that is as it should be.

 Probably the reason I prevailed over time was an ability to alter my personality in each style of presentation. .

With the passing of years even the high energy I maintained for long periods had begun to wane and I made my first attempt into assembling a small company of artists who were my colleagues among guitarists, dancers, and singers. Together in our collaboration, we were able to present flamenco with high artistic purpose.

 There is a vast difference in presenting a program where I offer six or seven flamenco pieces instead of an evening of fifteen or more solos. The public changes and perceptions are altered. It is imperative to move with the times. And so I continue. Dance and music have always been the most important in my life and I cannot imagine a life without them!

 Looking backward and forward, I chose to spend my life exploring and learning; sometimes failing and often succeeding beyond my own expectation!

 This then, is my legacy. For those who have a different opinion, I respectfully allow a another slant on this fascinating art. I ask consideration of this perspective of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening with Inesita March 14, 2020

A group of images taken backstage in Alhambra during the performance March 14th 2020 Presented by Clarita and Arte Flamenco Dance Theatre. Inesita in white Guayabera Jacket.

Video from first day of Shooting on Inesita Documentary

http:/https://Facebook/calix8/videos/1015https://www.facebook.com/calix8/videos/10157388026422459/7388026422459/On May 27, 2019, we began filming the Inesita Documentary. Five hours were spent that day on interviews and various matters related to my life work and career.

A brief video was filmed to make an official announcement of the project. So far 22 hours of footage has been made. Editing is in progress, but all activity is suspended due to the covid-19 crisis.

As the pandemic progresses, there is uncertainty, but there will be follow up.

 

 

Report

Inesita in her studio 2018

Report

The Performance under Arte Flamenco Dance Theatre

 On Saturday March 14th 2020, I appeared presented by Clarita under the auspices of Arte Flamenco Dance Theatre. The title was FLAMENCO NIGHT, An Evening with Inesita. I was supported by Clarita as flamenco singer and guitarists, Stamen Wetzel. Benjamin and Gabriel Osuna, The Arte  Flamenco Ensemble of dancers and Almae as dance soloist.

I performed five of my solos and participated in the Fin de Fiesta ending of the program.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and a chilly rainy night, the attendance was understandably poor. However, the small audience of hardy souls who attended the event were rewarded, in my opinion, with a very interesting and complicated dance experience.

 Naturally, there were flaws throughout the evening as the stress of crisis was palpable in the atmosphere. But, we were as professionals accustomed to the vagaries of show business and took it in stride.      

Because of the risk of close contact we did not conduct any “meet and greet” after the show.

At the end of my last dance, the Martinete por Seguiriya, as I turned slowly playing castanets and wrapped the train of my  dress around my ankles in place, Clarita and Gabriel wailed the verses of the Martinete, the most tragic of flamenco forms. The insistent clanging of metal against metal in the “compas” of Seguiriya simulated with knives evoked a mood of hypnotic melancholy. This was so suitable to the present moment. The lights slowly dimmed and when I stopped a blackout. When the light came up again I held my pose and slowly lowered my upraised arm. At that moment the audience rose and stood applauding.  A lovely tribute!

 This makes all the work worthwhile. I was grateful for the opportunity.

 

 

The Musical Interlude

The Musical Interlude

About 15 years ago, I experimented with some flamenco chords on the piano out of interest in the compás of the various “palos”.   I attempted first the rhythm of the Solea and succeeded in composing a set of figures which was the basis of the dance and song. Along with this I also tried a few passages based on the alternating bars of ¾ and 6/8 time which governs  Serranas and Seguiriyas along with its related forms of Martinete, Toná, Cabales and the Seguiriya itself. This last was the most difficult to put together. The rhythm  was fairly easy, but the harmonies more complex.

One day, Stamen was here while an old friend and fellow artist, Dolores Fernandez was visiting. When I played some of my Serranas, Stamen became excited and identified the tonal structure as Por Arriba  in  E which takes some  of the material as opposed to Por Medio which comes under the heading of Soleares and Alegrias and the 12 beat structure present in much of the cante and baile of flamenco. Serranas is a variant of the Seguiriyas group having the same compás in alternating bars of 3/4 and 6/8. ( Flamenco rhythmic structure is complicated. It is Eastern in character and  needs a very different approach in learning both from a dance aspect and an instrumental one.}

Subsequently, with the collaboration of Stamen I developed more intricate passages and decided to use it in our dance performances where we had a piano available..

We set up a section in the program in which I  play some written music such as Zapateado Illustrado and the Panaderos de las Flamenca or some Sevillanas.

It continues to make an impression on the audience because of my functioning as pianist surprises them. So far, I have not seen or heard any other Spanish dancers do this.. The music selected, is of course, far less complicated than the classical repertoire  I studied all my life. In this way I employed the collaboration of the two guitarists and lately the castanet playing of Clarita  in the Panaderos. This appears as a novelty for the public and is a refreshing departure from the dance and song of the main program.

 

Inesita Papers

In the last few days the Finding Aid for the Inesita Papers, the collection of materials gathered over eight decades of performing has been uploaded to OAC. (Online Archive of California) which is housed at the Charles E. Young research Library at UCLA under the Performing Arts Special Collections, headed by Peggy Alexander.. This voluminous archive was donated by Inesita in 2018. It is available to students, dance historians, dancers and scholars for research and study by request. It was curated by Genie Guerard  and  processed by Carolina Mensese

https://www.library.ucla.edu/blog/special/2019/08/06/processing-the-inesita-papers-in-the-center-for-primary-research-and-training-cfprt

 

Upcoming Event

On Saturday, March 14th, 2020, Inesita will be presented by CLARITA and El  Arte Flamenco Dance Theater. Curtain is 7 P.M. Admission is $25.

Flamenco Night – An Evening with Inesita

Recollection of the student film at NYU

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Photo of Lavaliere gold necklace from the students of NYU, 1963

Film Reel of the work print made during shoot in 1962/63
Film reel of the work print made during shoot in 1962/63.

Call sheet notation during the shoot of the film.

An action shot during the “work print” made filming the NYU project.

Recollections on the NYU student film Project.

 

In the latter part of 1962, during the end of my third season in New York, I was contacted by some students in the film dept of New York University. I was recommended as a Flamenco dancer by Leticia Jay, a well known popular dancer who aside from her career as a Jazz tap dancer was also very involved with East Indian dance and ballet technique.

 

 She had devised a method of Dance Notation using stick figures which could be attached to a musical staff and serve as movement and rhythm directions in the choreography. She persuaded me to learn some of her notation and apply this to Flamenco and Spanish dance. I studied the method with her for awhile.

 

I began work on a film directed by Robert J. Siegel and three other young men one of whom was Martin Scorsese as the cameraman. As is well known today, he is the famed film director.

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Photo of Lavaliere gold necklace from the students of NYU, 1963

 I was scheduled to do a concert performance at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts in January of 1963. I had already engaged a flamenco guitarist and flamenco singer who were both from Spain. We were in rehearsal and I asked them if they would like to participate with me in this film assignment and they agreed. The guitarist, Emilio Bonet, was from Madrid, (in fact I met him in Spain years previously when I was studying with the legendary maestro of flamenco, Estampio) . Emilio was the step-son of Manolo Bonet who played the guitar for Estampio’s private classes. Emilio occasionally would play guitar for the students when Manolo was unable to be there.

 

The flamenco singer, Paco Ortiz, was from Malaga, Spain. I was introduced to him by another guitarist I knew in New York, Emilio Prados, also from Spain and who performed with me in a lecture- concert I did at the Henry Street Playhouse in New York. Prados admired my dancing very much. Paco had been a dancer but now was singing flamenco very well and had a fine stage presence.

 

The three of us performed in the shooting of the film which took place over a period of weeks from December 1962 to February, 1963.

 

There were several locations around New York where the filming was done. I performed three dances; two of them with the guitar and song and a third dance stringing a group of flamenco rhythms linked together by a call (llamada) in each successive style. The final dolly shot showed my spinning slowly in the spotlight and was termed “very dramatic”. It was an original idea of mine and had never been done before.

 

The work was arduous. At the end of the shooting schedule the students presented me with a 14 carat gold necklace lavaliere.

 

During the shoot, we were contacted by the Voice of America. Someone had informed them of the odd situation of a group of American film students making a film about flamenco. A Spanish gentleman was sent to meet and speak with us and ask about the details. The result was a radio interview in Spanish which was broadcast to a Spanish speaking public. In addition, a Spanish language newspaper sent a photographer to photograph the three of us performing. This appeared in the Spanish newspaper El Diario. It featured Martin Scorsese behind his camera while we posed in one of my dances.

 

The end of this story concerns correspondence to me and my husband, Bernard, by one of the students who was an admirer of my work and gave us a detailed account of the follow up on the film. The length was about 9 to 12 minutes and the title was Flamenco: The Art of Inesita. This student, Robert Jahn, told us in his letter that the film did not win a prize, but was very well received at the showing.

 A very recent comment  on the Internet about Martin Scorsese and his films sited his early work at NYC and this film was mentioned. It was summarized as very traditional and “ordinary” in its production and again they had  misinformation about the title. It was never designated as a movie about me as Inesita. The intended project was focused on “Flamenco” as a theme. Today, since the film was lost or discarded, it is only speculation regarding the assignment. Since I was the performer and I was present throughout the many weeks during filming, I know more about it than anyone. The title was never “Inesita” Furthermore I contend that the work represented the subject matter in an authentic manner and presented the dance, song, and music of this genre as it should be. The title was Flamenco: The Art of Inesita. That is the final word. I was the dancer not the subject.

 

 Returning to Los Angeles, California following five years away in Europe and the East Coast, I continued with my dance performances plus some private teaching.

 

Following the death in 1999 of my husband, I resumed performing, and then in 2002 I decided to buy a laptop and learn how to use it, as I was very interested in going online, getting a Web Site, and using the technology to continue my dance activities. In the course of my exploration of the Internet, I saw a reference to my name in connection with the indie film in 1963. I was very surprised to read this student film was mentioned not only with my name but with the name of Martin Scorsese, who subsequently became the famous film director.

 

Only recently I discovered that I had in my possession a canister of 16 mm film. It was forgotten in the intervening years due to the passage of time and the myriad other projects I have been involved since then. Moreover, the search reveals that my name, Inesita and the film is mentioned in a biography of Scorsese by a writer, Vicente Bhutto.   

 

My memory of Scorsese is of a quiet fellow, who spoke little, since he was not the director, but the cameraman. Robert Siegel, the director conversed with everyone during the filming.

 

The interesting aspect of this story is the nature of the film itself which in my opinion is a fine example of genuine flamenco as opposed to some distorted rendition which often happens. I had been in touch with Robert J. Siegel, who also was an admirer and still is. Since I have continued to perform, I wanted to have Siegel make an attempt to restore this film if possible. It can be regarded as historical.

 

However, the end of the story was not as positive as we had hoped. The film in the canister turned out to be only a work print for rehearsal prior to filming. Nevertheless, Bob Siegel made a DVD of this footage which shows my dancing (without any music) and an initial scene of conversation between Siegel and me. He was kind enough to upload this sequence on You Tube. It is a history as it shows my work during a period when I was dancing in the New York area after three and one-half years in Europe.

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