July 2016, London
Paco Pena is in town again. It’s been a year since I last saw one of his flamenco shows in London. Everyone talks about the meaning of his titles (this time, ‘Patria’ – motherland) and what his virtuoso musicians and dancers so passionately convey. Everything is meant to tell us something, from floor-stamping feet to sober poses and screaming guitars. But what flamenco is all about – it seems to me – is none of these; rather, it is what is held back, the shadows behind downcast gazes. The pause. That is where the real drama begins.
The ‘spirit’ of flamenco
27 June 2015
When he dances, something else moves him – duende, the spirit?
The continuous background dialogue between the singers and the dancers – ‘ole!’, and all the gestures towards each other, are a dance in themselves, a second layer of movement. Even their breathing is connected to the same spirit that moves their bodies and souls.
It isn’t just music and dance – they all live and die there, on stage; they rise and fall, they fail, groan, cry, and try again, intensity over grace, and organic dignity over beauty. Controlled passion throughout.