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Flamenco cheat sheet

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

What to see

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

Factoid

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

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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