Published on February 18th, 2016 | by Reporters Desk0
Cumbre Flamenca Ignites Passion
By Melina Paris, Music Columnist
Flamenco is primal emotion expressed through guitar, song and dance.
The preforming troupe Cumbre (“peak” in Spanish) Flamenca embodies this primal emotion. Two of its members, siblings Domingo and Inmaculada Ortega, sat down to chat with me before their Feb. 6 performance at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
“Flamenco is more and more popular around the world, especially because it is something very primitive, letting you show your instinct and your purest passion,” Inmaculada said. “That is why all the cultures are accepting flamenco as well as they are.”
To Inmaculada and Domingo, expressing the most primitive feelings, especially those of pain, sorrow or sometimes anger, and even happiness are the meaning of flamenco.
“Flamenco has different palos (song form in rhythms), each with a name and different meaning. Solea means loneliness. Alegrías means happiness. It’s just a pure feeling. There is no story to tell, like in ballet for example. It’s very technical and normally there are stories. Flamenco can use its language to tell a story but normally, the meaning is just to show the emotions. As a song, the solea, lies at the heart of flamenco.”
Domingo believes that it is important to express oneself individually.
“The flamenco, for me, is very rich,” Domingo said. “We have to make good use of the opportunity to express our feelings. Use this chance to use flamenco like therapy, to let out your feelings. It’s always scary to be different, but flamenco is a dance for the individual. It takes courage. There is only one person in the world like you, so dance only like you, not how you think you have to dance.”
Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalusia, Spain, where the siblings are from, is one of the most important places for Flamenco because of its mix of cultures. It is part of a golden triangle of flamenco, where the major styles of cante jondo (flamenco singing) may have originated. This triangle is made up of Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana in Seville.
There are four elements of flamenco, cante-voice, baile-dance, toque-guitar, and the jaleo, which translates to hell-raising or merry-making. This involves hand-clapping, foot stomping and shouts of encouragement. Jaleo is duende. Duende is a spiritual experience of heightened emotion. In flamenco, duende goes beyond human understanding. It is magical and mysterious.
Moreover, flamenco in Jerez is distinctive, Inmaculada explained.
“The technique is not so important,” Inmaculada said. “It’s more [about] the way you express through movement and the way you play with [the] compass.”
Flamenco has a 12-beat structure, in Jerez a 12.5 structure is used, which is different from the rest of Spain.
Of course, the technique is necessary. But, Inmaculada and Domingo agree it’s not so important that you are an acrobat.
“It’s like a joke, you see a movement and then something different happens, — unexpected,” Inmaculada said.
Inmaculada believes that people in the United States have a great knowledge about dance and art. She finds that it’s very easy for Americans to understand what the meaning of flamenco because Americans are very familiar with many different cultures.
“Here people are more familiar with belly dancing or the Indian style of dancing or jazz with contemporary styles,” she said. “They are very open minded about flamenco and receive it in a very healthy way.”
Audiences can expect something very personal and authentic from their performance. Inmaculada said most people feel very emotional and sensitive at the end of the show. They feel very happy to have been dreaming for that hour or so and forget about their own problems.
“Sometimes after the show I’ve seen people crying,” she said. “They got so much into the music and evolution of the dance and they come to just tell me thank you.”
Domingo’s dance exemplifies virility and grace. His body is a percussive instrument, each body slap, every clap and foot stomp translates to pure emotion delivered with nuanced poise.
“In my dance I don’t ask for applause,” Domingo said. “When I finish the big thing for me is that people feel something, not the applause. I have to pay a price for dance. I’m giving myself. The audience with me cannot be passive, they have to look inside me.”
The brother and sister feel a kinship with California.
“People have always received me well,” Domingo said. “I feel very loved and understood. This is the most important thing for an artist. I can dance like I want to dance. When I dance with my sister I remember our beginning, how we started and now we share the stage. So, we have (this) opportunity.”
Details: www.didsomebodysayflamenco.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/vida.flamenca.1?fref=ts