posted in performance on february 5th, 2008
So the American Dance Institute, where I accompany flamenco dance classes on Monday nights, started a new session tonight—and the palo this time around is Sevillanas. While I’ve accompanied quite a bit of Sevillanas in the Peña (and in working with individual dancers), this is the first time I’ve comped it for a beginning class. I’m sure I’ll update these goings-on as the session progresses, but for the moment, let me pass on some first impressions:
Let’s start with the basics: If you’re going to accompany Sevillanas for a beginning class, you are definitely going to want a good (read: wide & varied) collection of falsetas. I know this sounds ridiculously obvious—I figured I knew all about it before ever setting foot in class—but a Sevillana is a short piece—maybe a minute and a half, tops? And you’re going to repeat it. A lot. The upshot? Variety is the only thing that will keep you sane.
Personally, I’m comfortable with a half-dozen instrumental Sevillanas and another half-dozen for cante accompaniment. Up until now I’ve been sort of abstractly satisfied with this spread, but I suspect I’ll be learning more before this session is up. Here’s why: in one hour, I cycled through all of my instrumental pieces several times. Some of this is to be expected—and I wasn’t too batty by the end of it all—but my suspicion is that by about week four, these little tunes are going to get old in something like a paleolithic way. In any case, let me assure you: if I had played the same falseta over and over again, Rubina (as sweet as she is) would have thrown me into traffic. And I don’t know that I would have blamed her.
As for Rubina (in a less murderous way, which is her normal modus operandi), I’m sure she will eventually add some singing into the mix, but as her attention is for the most part on what her students’ various limbs are doing, I’m not planning on a ton of vocals any time soon. The good news, of course, is that there are absolutely obscene amounts of Sevillanas out there, just waiting to be found and learned. Now it’s just a matter of finding and learning them.
In any case, I’ll keep you posted. By the way, for the curious/critical among you, (and by way of absolutely shameless self-promotion) I’ve written a short article on comping Sevillanas on the main Ravenna Flamenco site—you can find it here. Also check out the "Tabs" section for some Sevillanas transcriptions. I’ve only got a couple up at the moment, but I won’t be shy about sharing things once I track them down.
Now go play!