Monthly Archives: March 2013

Flamenco

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Flamenco is a Spanish musical genre. Flamenco embodies a complex musical and cultural tradition. Although considered part of the culture of Spain in general, flamenco actually originates from one region- Andalusia.

The differnet styles of music are called Palos and unlike in other western music where the guitar acts as a more of a precussion instrument, in flamnco the guitarist holds the entire performance together.

The flamenco is a solo dance characterized by hand clapping, percussive footwork, and intricate hand, arm and body movements. It is known for its sweeping arm movements and rhythmic feet stomping. Flamenco dancers spend a great deal of time practicing and perfecting the often difficult dance.

Flamenco dancers, known as bailaores and , are serious and passionate. Typical of flamenco dance, a dancer will often stand motionless and free of expression for the first few moments of a song. As he or she begins to feel the music, the dancer might begin a steady beat of loud hand clapping. Then, as emotion builds, the dancer will begin a passionate dance. The dancing often involves fierce stomping, sometimes made louder with percussion attachments on the shoes, and graceful arm movements. Castanets are sometimes held in the hands for clicking, and folding fans are occasionally used for visual impact. The overall effect is one of passion and elegance.

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My experience at Quimeras

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On Tuesday the 20th of November I went to go and see the production Quimeras. I thoroughly enjoyed the show while learning about  immigration through Europe. I have never learnt either of the dance styles portrayed: flamenco or African so the experience was a completely new one.

The plot was a group of Africans beginning their journey, after losses in their home town. It then went on to show the reactions of Europeans at their arrival and finally the coming together of both cultures.

I thought the music worked beautifully with the plot changing its dynamics and tempo, as well as style as the story progressed. As an audience member the music deffinitley influenced me into feeling the emotions of the various characters. The quiet and subtle tones of the flamenco and the energetic beat of the african drums worked harmoniously as well as bringing a variety of textures while being played separately.

The lighting was also used effectively portraying the emotions of each chanracter and making it easy to distinguish the location of the scene: whther in Eurpoe or Africa.

The dancing was also superb. Each racial background was shown clearly though the way the dancers moved, giving a varied performance for the audience wjich interested us throuout. Although i enjoyed studying and appreciating each dance style separately I particularly loved the parts where both were shown togther. The vibrant music, bright lights and perfect blend of Flamenco elegance and African liveliness created a unforgettable performance

Paco Pena Quimeras

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Legendary guitarist, composer, dramatist and producer Paco Peña presents his 2010 work Quimeras, directed by Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly. Exploring the lure of travel and the dream of a better life, Quimeras tells the story of a group of migrants who have come to Spain from Africa in search of work.

These are some short extracts.

Paco Pena

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Paco Pena Paco Peña (born 1 June 1942) is a Spanish flamenco guitarist. He is regarded as one of the world’s foremost traditional Flamenco players. Born in Cordoba he first started learning guitar from his brother at the age of 6. By just 12 years old he was making professional appearances and encouraged by his family he left home to pursue his musical career further. Instantly he was performing throughout spain with a government sponsored folk music and dance programme, leading to calls from companies in Madrid and Costa Brava.

He soon became unhappy with this way of life and moved to London in the late 190’s to branch out as a soloist. After working in Restaurante Antonio in convent Garden, his appeal to the British crowd ensured that he was soon performing with legends such as Jimi Hendrix and made a solo debut in Wigmore hall. It was not long before he was touring the world. He even set up a university course on Flamenco guitar at the Rotterdam conservatory of music.

For the next few years Paco Pena worked to establish Flamenco throughout the world including in his roots at Cordoba. His most famous compositions include his Misa Flamenca, a Flamenco Mass, and Requiem for the Earth, both of which have received great critical acclaim.

The Origin of Kathak

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Kathak is a North Indian dance which originated in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It also has its origins in the Natyashastra. The name Kathak comes from the word katha which means a story. Dancers travelled the country performing in temple courtyards and village squares depicting religious stories. They were known as Kathaks or kathakars (story tellers). While dancing they sang, recited and acted. The art was handed down from one generation to the next generation in a hereditary manner as an oral tradition.

When Mughals arrived in India, Kathak was influenced by Persian dancers.  Kathak changed significantly in terms of content and presentation. It was banned from being performed in temples kathakars were made to be performed in courts for entertainment instead. Kathak was danced for an entertainment rather than religious reasons.

After the power of the Mughal empire declined, these performers were patronized by kings such as those in Rajasthan and other minor princely states such as the Nawab of Oudh, etc. The style developed two major lineages – the Jaipur gharana and the Lucknow gharana. Nowadays people perform a combination of the two styles which gives a blend of swift and sharp movement with soft and flowing movements.

The Origins of Bharatanatyam

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Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form originating in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu.

According to tradition the Gods and Goddesses requested Lord Bramha, the Lord Creator, to create a Veda that would be accessible to all. He created the fifth Veda- The Natya Veda. He then presented the Natya Veda to sage Bharata (Bharata Muni) and asked him to popularise the Veda on Earth. Bharata Muni put together a theory to interpret the Veda which is known as Natyashastra, dating back to between 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD.  It was a comprehensive work of the science and technique of classical dances as well classical drama, stage design, music, costume and make up.

All classical dance forms share a root in the Natyashastra. A belief as to where the name could have come from is Bharata Muni.

Bharatanatyam could also come from:

Bha– Bhavam, meaning expression

Ra– Ragam, meaning music

Ta– Talam, meaning beat or rhythm

Natyam– meaning dance in Tamil

These are the essential factors that are portrayed in the dance form.

In ancient times Bharatanatyam was developed as a mainly female solo style and was traditionally performed in Hindu temples to worship Gods and Goddesses. These temple dancers were known as Devadasis. They were knowledgable about dance music and religious ceremonies.