Flamenco cheat sheet

Six top pointers to make you an instant expert in Spanish dance

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Photo by Miguel Angel Gonzalez

London’s annual flamenco festival starts this week. No time to swot up? Here’s how to sound like you know what you’re talking about.

1

In a nutshell

Flamenco arrived in Spain in the fifteenth century along with the Romani gypsies, via India, the Middle East and North Africa. It’s a holy trinity of cante (song), palmas (handclaps) and baile (dance) – the latter an instantly recognisable combo of proudly curved backs, expressive arms and fiercely stamping feet. ‘Life is pain’ is the message from the wailing song and visceral dance; it’s a blood-and-guts artform with nothing to clean up afterwards.

2

Name to drop

Rocio Molina. A distinctive, compelling performer, Molina is an exciting young artist who gets to the core of flamenco’s timeless emotion while experimenting with form, style and choreography in a thoroughly modern way. As well as her solo show, she’s presenting a work-in-progress with two hip hop dancers.

3

The gossip

The festival features virtuoso gypsy dancer Farruquito’s first UK performance since serving time in prison for a hit and run that he tried to get his brother to take the blame for. A total weasel, but an amazing dancer.

4

What to see

Avant-garde maverick Israel Galván and the over-emotional (in a good way!) Eva Yerbabuena.

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Factoid

According to flamenco singer Felix de Lola, there are more flamenco schools in Japan than there are in Spain.

6

Smug dinner party one-liner

‘Well you know, Yerbabuena just oozes duende.’ (That’s the untranslatable term used for flamenco’s dark soul.) Winner!



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