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 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.
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!