There are few more expressive, historic and heartfelt musical phenomena as flamenco.
The raw emotion of the music and the dance speaks of history, tragedy, drama and above all, an insistent, rhythmic compás lending an intensity to the experience that is at once recognisable, challenging and exhilarating.
But don’t take Weekender’s word for it alone; the honorary consulate of Spain is hosting a dinner and concert poolside at Luca on Thursday, 24 February, headlined by world-famous Sevillian dancer Miguel Vargas, along with dancer and percussionist Jose Moreno (son of famous flamenco artists Estrella Morena and Pepe de Málaga), singer Matias Lopez Exposito, New York guitarist Jed Miley and Cayman’s own flamenco guitarist and composer, Nathan Herrera.
The style, as with many of the world’s greatest artistic endeavours, had its genesis in often harsh conditions.
“Flamenco originated in Southern Spain, in the region of Andalucia through a mixture of cultures: Gypsy, Jewish, Arabic and native Spanish.
As a result of persecution, these cultures mixed in different barrios and the music from different cultures formed flamenco. Each barrio and town has different styles.
“Other styles in flamenco came from the influences of travellers bringing music back from the New World and Africa.
The Cante (song) came first, then the dance, and then the guitar around the turn of the 20th century,” explains Nathan.
The evening aims to raise funds for a new Honorary Consulate of Spain scholarship that will enable one Caymanian UCCI student to attend an intensive summer language programme at the University of Granada in Spain, say organisers.
Nathan says he’s looking forward to working out at his brother’s Cross Fit gym and tasting his mother’s cooking while on-island; it’s where his flamenco journey began, he says.
“I remember sitting in my grandparents’ back yard on Birch Tree Hill Road eating plums and mangoes in the shade of the trees. I think of this often. Also surfing in Bodden Town with my cousins. We had some good times!”
The guitarist grew up listening to Spanish classical guitar, mainly from his father’s great record collection, which would occupy the young Nathan for hours on end.
“There was an album by guitarist Alirio Diaz with a picture on the cover of his right hand strumming (rasgueo, the signature sound of flamenco) and I became mesmerised by this image.
When I started playing, I was kind of into rock but within months all I wanted was to play flamenco. I started studying flamenco while in school for classical guitar, and then went to Seville, Spain, after I graduated to immerse myself.”
And that is the keyword: immersion in the moment, immersion in the story and immersion in the music. Flamenco is a powerful expression of a particular human experience in all its glory and pain. Not to be missed.
Tickets can be purchased at Luca, Barnett Music Store and the Honorary Consulate of Spain for $100, which includes both the dinner and concert. For further information on the event, please call 949-2400.