Ravenna Flamenco

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Zamani Flamenco at World Rhythm Fest: We Came. We Saw. We Played a Rumba.

posted in performance on april 28th, 2008
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Okay, fine, our performance wasn’t quite as Caesarean as an anchovy salad (or an incisive childbirth), but it did, all in all, go pretty well. This show makes twice now that I’ve performed in the Center House and, while I can’t exactly claim to feel "at home" in its great pop-corn scented interior, I am happy to report that I’ve finally learned how to find the bathrooms with a minimum of oh-no-I’m-going-on-in-two-minutes-and-have-to-pee panic.

In fact, panic was relatively low on the list of afflictions this time around. I think of all the shows I’ve done with Zamani Flamenco so far, this one was the most fun. The corresponding causative variable here, methinks, is that this is also the show for which we held the most (and most intense) rehearsals.

There were still of course some "fluffs" (this is the technical term, by the way, for all you neophytes out there), but none from which we didn’t recover. I actually at one point completely misplaced a musical phrase (in my woefully disorganized cerebellum, as it were), yet somehow managed to stay both in key and in compás and picked up the thread on the other side of the tangle. I suspect this is one case where compás —which is sometimes the bane of my non-Iberian existence—actually saved the day: since both the dancer I was accompanying and I knew the song’s structure and how the compás fits in it, she knew exactly where I was (and could thus follow me) when I finally got all my musical ducks in a row.

Much to your probable specular dismay, however, these catch and release moments of digito-neuro befuddlement are, alas, not to be shared: while I was battling with recalcitrant synapses on stage, my long-suffering wife and sometimes videographer, Anna, was engaged in a fierce struggle with videocamera kamikazes in the audience.

It’s a good thing Anna polished her nunchuck skills before the show.

But that’s a story for a different day. How about some videos? Here is our opening number, a Sevillanas:

I had done Sevillanas with large groups, with cante, and with just Zanbaka, but this was the first time I had played for a trio. It was fun. If you’ve been browsing the Ravenna Flamenco tab collection, you might also recognize some of those falsetas.

Our second number was a tangos. For this one we built the song structure around the three dancers in sequence, with a group finale at the end. Since we weren’t working with a singer for this show, we had to decide how to fill the songs out musically. I could have played falsetas all the way through, but this would have been both really labor intensive for yours truly and seriously distracting at moments in the song that are supposed to be more focused on the dancer. What we finally opted for was to play the accompaniment as if there had been cante and then drop in falsetas for punctuation:

We next did a jaleo, an alegrías, and a bulería. Two of these fall into the "videographically ill-fated" category; the third I may post eventually (i.e. when I get around to it). Our final number was an impromptu-esqu rumba. Rhythm Fest is an event which encourages audience participation, so we thought it fitting to follow suit. The results were encouraging:

And I do love some of those moves. At least a couple of our rumba dancers had been in a dance workshop with Zanbaka earlier in the day. She does work magic, that crazy Z.

And there you have all I have to say (for the moment) about Rhythm Fest!

Now go play!


tags: zamani, festival, rumba, video
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