Writings and essays about flamenco

Category — Flamenco Dance – The Family of El Farruco

La Farruca’s New Flamenco Show – Report from El País – translated with comments by Brook Zern

Today’s issue of Spain’s major newspaper El País carries this brief article by Fernando Iñiguez (url below)

Nights of Great Dance, All In the Family

The essence of good flamenco dance is on display from today till Sunday thanks to the gran dama called La Farruca.  For those three nights, the daughter of the legendary Farruco will unveil her new production [espectáculo] that pays homage to the greats of flamenco – her way of remembering Carmen Amaya, Niño Ricardo, Arturo Pavón, her own father, La Perla de Cadiz, Manolo Caracol and Camarón among other maestros of song, guitar and dance.

When this fifty-something woman of Seville, whose real name is Rosario Montoya Manzano, takes the floor, the devout purists say [dicen las más puristas] that time stops.  She’ll be accompanied by her adolescent son, Manuel Fernández Montoya, the consummate dancer known as El Carpeta.  The saga of el Farruco is thus guaranteed to continue.  La Farruca has created all the choreography and even the costumes for each number, though it’s well known that she may overrule her own directives to improvise, dancing as her heart dictates.  Until Sunday, the singer for her and her son will be Pedro Heredia, who came up with the idea for the production, as well as Fabiola Pére and Mara Rey; Juan Requena will handle the guitar, and Ale Romero will play piano.

End of article.

I think it’s pretty neat when a national newspaper of record reports on the duende, that mysterious momentito when laws of nature are temporarily suspended, albeit with no mention of the actual D-word, and with a formal disclaimer – “it is said,” (and not said by everyone but only by) “the most purist of the purists.”  Yes, that should avoid lawsuits filed by the growing legion of progressive thinkers who say that so-called purists must be shunned, for contradicting their belief that the word itself is either meaningless or downright dangerous.

(As a devout rationalist, I object to the idea of duende on principle, but I overrule myself based on rare but real experiences.  I’ve often referred to some sort of time-dilation, subjectively palpable, as one symptom of the syndrome.  My favorite headline, in a local Malaga paper long ago, described a brief segment of a great bullfight I’d seen the day before.  It read “Curro Romero Stops the Clock”, and he did, and the thousands of people in the ring felt it happen, so, bound by rules of truth in journalism, what else could the reporter say?

And by the way, even though outsiders often confuse the duende with glorious moments of supreme inspiration in other arts, the Spaniards know better.  In effect, it is only used there  – and used frequently — to describe the altered state that emerges in 1) flamenco and 2) the bullfight.

The confusion arises when writers attempt to compare it to other arts, rather than confess that it is both unique and tightly restricted to those two Spanish contexts.  Federico García Lorca, no slouch in this area, blew the call when he said that some great classical pianist had duende.  In yer dreams, pal, in yer dreams.

The url for the article is: http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2013/12/26/madrid/1388091851_306849.html

December 29, 2013   1 Comment