For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Flamenco Dancer, Seville

The singer´s voice quavered and droned, thin and nasal like a muezzin´s. Jazzy chords spilled from a guitar: major then minor, fast then slow, confident then unresolved; cool and dark as a shaded courtyard in old Seville. Suddenly the dancer, Ascunción Pérez - dressed in red and black, with flashing eyes and jet black hair - strode quickly through a high doorway and mounted the small, wooden stage on the patio of the 18th century palace which is the Casa de la Memoria. All three - singer, guitarist, dancer - were young, local artists from Seville, performing flamenco in a modern style: fresh, unsentimental, but still firmly rooted in the old tradition. This was the real thing - not the castanet-clicking touts chasing the quick euro, nor the rough amateurishness you get from the hillside cave-dwellers above Granada. These were three serious students of the dance.

Complex rhythms flowed, faltered, petered out. Then began again, sinuously following a different direction, half-scripted, half-improvised. Hands clapped on the beat, off the beat. The dancer arched one arm over her head and stamped diagonally across the stage, head bent back, her body-shapes changing second by second, fingers stuck out at crazy angles like the tentacles of an octopus. She hitched up her dress, slapped her thigh. She was proud, provocative, defiant, sexy, coy, tragic, strong, yielding, ecstatic; one moment a majestic matriarch, the next a bashful señorita. Studied awkwardness gave way to still composure. She squatted, legs akimbo, as if giving birth - grotesque as a figure from a Paula Rego painting - then became all beauty and grace, like a Velázquez princess.

Her red heels went clack, clack, clack. Clack, clack across the wooden floor, as the tempo rose and quickened. All hands clapped in unison, as faster and faster she twirled and spun in a vision of red and black, in a frenzy of movement. Clack, clack, clack. For a moment she became all the women of Andalusia rolled into one: the smart, Spanish women parading in the gardens of the Alcazár, the Arabic gypsies scraping an existence in the shacks by the Guadalquivir river. At the crescendo she stood face-on to her spellbound audience: stiff, erect and proud; all fire, all heart, all corazón. The house erupted in swift, spontaneous applause. Olé! The lights came on and we shuffled off, mesmerized, as if a dream had ended.

(Posted from Mérida, on the Vía de la Plata, Spain.)

8 comments:

gleaner said...

Sounds wonderful - and your writing makes me wonder whether you are an author or professional writer. I almost feel I'm travelling there too.

Lorenzo Lapis Lazuli said...

¡Olé!

Rachel Fox said...

Having a good time then?
x

The Solitary Walker said...

You flatter me, Gleaner! I´ve been involved with books all my life but I´m not a professional author. Would love to write more though, and try to get some stuff published.

Sarah said...

Great blog. Your writing is fantastic. You should definitely get some of your work published!

The Solitary Walker said...

Good, bad and all things in-between, Rachel!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I saw flamenco dancing in Seville a few years ago Robert - it was SO exciting.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Don't think for a moment you're not a writer. (Yeah, double negative.) You are, indeed, a fine writer with a great eye for detail and a good sense of story. This is a wonderful sketch.

Friendship aside, you have talent. You and I are going to have to have some discussion about all this once you get home…