Ravenna Flamenco

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Pending Shows and Musical Catharsis

posted in performance on november 22nd, 2007

First of all: Happy Thanksgiving! (Okay, it’s not truly yet the national day of gluttony, but it is after midnight, so you get my holiday wishes whether you like it or not.)

Next: the update du jour: we (we being La Peña Flamenca de Seattle) have a show this Sunday – that is, three days from now. This will be my second show with the Peña, the first being the most recent (and my first) semi-annual Peña show at Ethnic Cultural Theater in Seattle’s University District. This show – the Sunday show – will be part of the Winterfest production at the Seattle Center. A much bigger venue, to be sure. But then that’s in itself no guarantee of the kind (and, more precisely, the number) of people that will be there. I’ll keep you posted.

Personally, I’m feeling fairly well prepared. We’re doing seven numbers, none of which demand monstrously technical feats on my part. Theoretically, I think I should be able pull it off with everything in time and in key. If this is hoping for too much, at least I’ll have Marcus to sonically hide behind. He casts a long shadow and for the moment that’s fine with me.

Otherwise, peña practices have been focusing on the upcoming winter show (December 15th and 16th, if you’re in the Seattle area). The two new "big" dances are a Garrotín (saucy! – I’ll explain later) and a Bamberas. The Bamberas is still "under construction," which means that the choreography hasn’t yet been fully set… .

Wait! Anecdote break: As Markus, Steve (the percussionist) and I were noodling around with Bamberas lines after practice, however, Rubina came over and started dancing through the way she saw the rest of the piece going in her head. For those of you who have never played for a strong dancer before, take my word for it: it’s not an experience that quickly fades. Rubina literally took the song and ran with it. I won’t speak for the other musicians, but I know I kept playing just to see where she would go next. You get some of this when you see Rubina perform on stage, but to be linked directly to that energy and expressive authority is musically cathartic.

This, of course, (if I may digress for a moment – and I may, this being my blog and all) is part of the incredible benefit of playing with musicians and dancers who are much better than you. If you can find someone willing to take you under their wing (they’re out there – these people were once someone’s protégé too), don’t pass up the opportunity. But this kind of thing, of course, isn’t a one way street. Reflecting on those few seconds of musical gestalt after the fact, I’m reminded of how important it is that I keep growing as a musician. If I can keep my mentors interested – or at least curious about what I’m learning now or next – I think I’ve got a pretty good chance of one of them twitching an ear in my direction. If I do something that makes them want to join in, all the better.

Humbling times, are these. But good, good times as well.

Now go practice!


tags: pena
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