The, writer, Al Sad, wrote,: Inesita, you could teach Hollywood stars something about grace, class, and elegance” A great tribute to my work, Thank you!
As a dancer, I have often encountered a strange conception of what dancing really is nd how one thinks of this art. Many theories have been offered to explain how one achieves mastery of a discipline that requires just as much dedication as learning to play an instrument or embarking on a course of study which demands dedication to detail and particulars.
I have been astonished to discover many students are unprepared to begin with simple technic and basic movements to train the body and mind.
The concept of beginning with fundamentals without music is an idea that does not enter into the thinking of the beginner.
Consequently, this attitude results in confusion about how to progress in the study of the work.
Much has been written about the process of acquiring knowledge in this particular art form with all its many aspects. The special methods of working in Spanish dance and Flamenco is a challenge in a very unique way, Since the music is unwritten. It is open-ended and the dancer must lead the musicians into the dance patterns. There is no other way. This concept is difficult to understand for the unvitiated. An Andalusian flamenco singer (cantaor) Miguel Galvez with whom I worked on several occasions, told me that in Spain the song comes first. (en Espana, el cante viene primero)
The popular view is that music is the inspiration which inspires one to dance. The idea of moving with no accompaniment is foreign to someone who thinks of dance in any form. This firm belief in the efficacy of music as a support to moving in time and space seems an excepted idea.
Flamenco or its true name, Cante Jondo (deep or profound song) is based on song rhythms out of which the guitarists derive the melodies or falsetas used to accompany singers. The rhythm or compas drives the work. The dancer must put down this structure as a percussive lead or conductor of the the work. There is no other way to perform in this art. With vast experience I know this is the method.. The rhythm is the dance and melodies are subservient to the whole.
As I have written before, the score is written as the dance proceeds. Flamenco is organic.
With experience and training this concept is absorbed. Either one is exposed from early childhood to the “compas” or it is acquired through much study. This is challenging as all art is but the reward is mastery of the form.
In Spain, the performer with the special knowledge is called enterado or informed.
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”
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..
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.