Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flamenco and ballet, same or different?

             I do realize that in my last post I explained that there are similarities between the roots of flamenco and ballet.  However, at the same time it is important to realize the vast differences between the two dances.  There are the obvious things such as the clothing, the music, and choreography, but these two paintings demonstrate the distinction between the mood and themes of the dances.  Look at the audience in the second painting; you can see that the crowd is held back by railings and sitting far from the stage.  After watching several ballet videos, it was obvious that traditional method of watching ballet does not involve the audience interacting very much with the dancers.  Usually the music is played off- stage from the dancers and the audience members sit even further away from the dancers.  This set up makes sense when you go back to the performances held in the royal presence of King Louis, which you can imagine must have been very proper and elegant. 
          Flamenco on the other hand, started on the streets with the clapping of the audience to hold the beat for the dancers.  From the beginning of flamenco history to today, dancers continue to perform on the side walks of Sevilla and are praised by shouts such as the notorious, "Ole" from audience members.  Even in professional performances it is natural for the audience to shout phrases of encouragement to the dancers.  Can you imagine someone in the audience of the Boston Ballet watching the Nut Cracker clapping along for the dancers and shouting during the middle of their performance?  It seems rude, right? But in flamenco, it's totally acceptable and encouraged.
           You will also notice in the painting that in the ballet picture, the musicians are no where to be seen.  But, in the flamenco painting the musicians are right near the dancers.  One thing I really enjoy about flamenco dancing is that you dance with the guitarist, opposed to performing separately.  I love ballet, but i don't like how the dancers very rarely interact with their musicians.  In flamenco, a dancer may look at her musician, dance around him/her, and most importantly play off of each others movements.  For instance if the guitar speeds up so does the dancer and if the dancer changes her movements the guitarist will play along and change his/her music.  Over all, I believe this makes flamenco a much more festive dance than ballet because it is custom for people watching to get excited and involved with the dance. 
* On another note, while looking for ballet and flamenco images I began looking at a lot of the beautiful art.  I believe it is really special how the art of dance is expressed through the art of painting, and I will be exploring that further in future posts, so keep reading!! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

              One of the fundamental building blocks of flamenco is ballet.  The two dances are strongly related and have been fused for generations.  Ballet began during renaissance Italy as it was performed in courts.  Le Ballet Comique de la Reine was one of the first ballets performed in Paris, France in 1581.  King Louis XVI, also known as the Sun King, popularized ballet in France as he participated in ballet performances held in his courts during the 1600s.  He danced in high-heeled shoes with large guilt buckles and pointed his toes to show off the buckles.  Ironically, his awkward foot movements laid down the foundations for the 5 basic positions in ballet.  Like flamenco, ballet dances are very theatrical with themes ranging from dramas, stories, mythology, and of course romance.  When first comparing flamenco and ballet, the two seem like complete opposites.  One involves loud stomping and rhythmic guitar, while the other is based on soft graceful feet and classical music.  Nonetheless, flamenco has undoubtedly adopted many ideas from ballet including the basic five positions.  For instance, when dancing Sevillanas, you must always start in what is known as the third position in ballet.  Also, a turn in flamenco known as a "vuelta cebrada" greatly resembles a pirouette.  Both dances are also known for having many people dancing a synchronized dance.  The two dances have also been fused over the years.  For instance, ballet has been done with castanets and flamenco has been danced to classical music.  Bellow is a video of Sevillanas done to classical music, accenting the influences of ballet on the dance.  Below that link is a video to demonstrate a classical ballet piece.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ramon De Los Reyes

            For my next flamenco research paper, I will be exploring the story behind Ramon De Los Reyes, a man who I am proud to have as my dance teacher.  He was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and at the age of 7 began dancing flamenco with gyspsies.  He has been a performer all of his dancing career and at the age of 13 began to touring around the world while continuing to be taught by influential dancers such as Manolo Vargas, Enrique " el Cojo " , Perice, La Quica, Antonio Marin, and several more.  As he grew as a dancer, Ramon De los Reyes co-founded the Reyes-Soler dance company along with Ximinez-Vargas.  His company traveled throughout all of North America, South America, and Europe.  He became more recognized as a dancer winning awards such as a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico,  recognition for Excellence in Dance from Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Recognition for Artistic Contribution to the people of Massachusetts from Governor Michael Dukakis, and many more.  In 1976, he started the Spanish dance Theater, New England's only professional Spanish dance company.  Within his company, Ramon collaborates with many world famous artists including Clara Ramona, the mother of his two sons Isaac and Nino De Los Reyes, who also contribute to his company.  Along with being a professional dancer and outstanding teacher, Ramon successfully raised his two sons Isaac and Nino to become professional dancers themselves and who like their father travel around the world performing and sharing their wisdom of flamenco.  Ramon however, has retired from touring and now teaches classes at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, Massachusetts along with running his company.  He is married to Maria Morena and they have a young daughter who dances flamenco and ballet.  Ramon De Los Reyes is a man who throughout the years has stayed true to his family and culture in every place that his dancing career has taken him.  He supports myself and several other dances to not only dance flamenco, but love flamenco with a passion.  I find my teacher remarkable because after all of his years of dancing, his devotion to flamenco has not faded one bit.  No matter how much  a student struggles in his class, he makes it clear that one day you will understand and "get" the dance, and it will all be worth it.  Frequently he tells students, to first dance with your mind and later with your heart.  To some he is a flamenco teacher, but to me is more than that, he is a large part of my inspiration and motivation to continue dancing, practice after every class, and believe that by dancing through life flamenco will always remain a passion that I hope to be eternally devoted to. 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

This is a great website if you are looking to get involved in flamenco classes, performances, and culture within your community.

Castanuelas :D :D :D

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carmen Amaya

Here is a good depiction of what Flamenco "looks like", but keep in mind that there are several different forms, beats, and moves in flamenco that are not shown in this fabulous piece by Carmen Amaya (la reina de flamenco)

Romance de la luna luna, By Federico Garica Lorca

La luna vino a la fragua
con su polisón de nardos.
El niño la mira, mira.
El niño la está mirando.
En el aire conmovido
mueve la luna sus brazos
y enseña, lúbrica y pura,
sus senos de duro estaño.

Huye luna, luna, luna.
Si vinieran los gitanos,
harían con tu corazón
collares y anillos blancos.

Niño, déjame que baile.
Cuando vengan los gitanos,
te encontrarán sobre el yunque
con los ojillos cerrados.

Huye luna, luna, luna,
que ya siento sus caballos.

Niño, déjame, no pises
mi blancor almidonado.

El jinete se acercaba tocando el tambor del llano. Dentro de la fragua el niño, tiene los ojos cerrados.
Por el olivar ven'an, bronce y sueño, los gitanos. Las cabezas levantadas y los ojos entornados.
Cómo canta la zumaya,
¡ay, cómo canta en el árbol!
Por el cielo va la luna
con un niño de la mano.

Dentro de la fragua lloran,
dando gritos, los gitanos.
El aire la vela, vela.
El aire la está velando.
The moon came to the forge
   with her skirt of white, fragrant flowers.
   The young boy watches her, watches.
   The boy is watching her.
In the electrified air
   the moon moves her arms
   and points out, lecherous and pure,
   her breasts of hard tin.

Flee, moon, moon, moon.
   If the gypsies were to come,
   they would make with your heart
   white necklaces and rings.

Young boy, leave me to dance.
   When they come, the gypsies
   will find you upon the anvil
   with closed eyes.

Flee, moon, moon, moon.
   Already I sit astride horses.
   Young boy, leave me, don’t step on
   my starched whiteness.

The horse rider approaches
   beating the drum of the plain.
   Within the forge the young man
   has closed eyes.

Through the olive grove they come,
   the gypsies –  bronze and dreaming,
   heads lifted
   and eyes half closed.

Hark, hear the night bird –
   how it sings in the tree.
   Across the sky moves the moon,
   holding the young boy by the hand.

Within the forge the gypsies cry,
   are crying out.
   The air watches over her, watches.
   The air is watching over her.