The flamenco, Las Vegas style

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The flamenco, Las Vegas style

The birthplace of the flamenco, according to many scholars, is Jerez de la Frontera, a small city in southern Spain. The origins of the art itself are said to be a synthesis of the gypsy, Arabic, Jewish and indigenous Andalucian cultures.
From Jerez, the flamenco, a folk art of the poor and oppressed, spread along the routes of the gypsies and found prominence in the Andalucian towns of Sevilla and Granada.
Ironically, it was performances by non-gypsies that gave the dance public legitimacy. In the 18th and 19th centuries, other artists began performing the flamenco in theaters and cafes. It became even more commercialized at the end of the 19th century, as “professional” artists performed in “cafes cantantes” (song and dance cafes), making this art form even more available to the public. While early flamenco was probably vocal, accompanied by rhythmical clapping of the hands, by its golden age (1869 to 1910) it was a performance of cante (song), baile (dance) and guitarra (guitar playing). The cante jondo, a serious form expressing deep feelings, also developed in this era. The cafes spread as far as Madrid and beyond.
The civil war in Spain brought a halt to further developments. Later, the influx of tourism in postwar Spain almost debased the art form. However, several singers researched and presented flamenco as an art form, and it continued to flourish with festivals from the ’50s to the ’80s. Although not all were happy with the commercialization of the flamenco, or its embrace of other musical forms from jazz to salsa and bossa nova, this time period was an opportunity for a new generation of artists to develop and stir the interest of the public once again.
The flamenco is now recognized on the international level. It also continues to go through changes and develop as a modern dance form. Just last year, Joaquin Cortes was in Korea to perform traditional Spanish dances with a modern flair. Carmen Mota’s “Fuego” is along similar lines.
The Spanish choreographer takes a lavish Las Vegas approach in this work, which is being staged until Sunday at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. Moto, who studied under the renowned dancer Carmen Amaya, founded the Carmen Mota Dance Company a few years ago, and is now considered one of Spain’s top flamenco choreographers.
Mota, along with senior choreographer Joaquin Marcelo, is in Korea with 18 dancers and five musicians to stage the colorful flamenco. Wayne Fowkes, who has also been an artistic director for “Rotterdam de Paris” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” is directing. The music fuses flamenco, rock and classical, and promises to be a lavish spectacle.


by Joe Yonghee

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. tonight and 3 and 7 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. Admission is 30,000 won ($29) to 100,000 won. For more information, visit the Web site www.fuegokorea.co.kr, or www.sac.or.kr.

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