Author: Damian Mendieta
Mystified by lightning fast movements and authentic flamenco rhythms, the ordinary lobby of Rangeview Hall was transformed into a breathtaking Iberian scene by flamenco dancer Tania Flores (senior) last Thursday night. Equally important were the refreshing beverages and snacks provided for audience members. Spanish department chair Professor Felisa Guillén provided the deep fruity mixture of virgin sangria and the nutty confection turrón. The performance both showcased Flores’ skills and provided an opportunity for students at Occidental to learn and enjoy about Spanish culture.
The night’s act included three different flamenco dances, two of which were accompanied by a guitar soundtrack and percussion claps from Flores. La Sevillana was the first taste of flamenco the crowd experienced. Usually an elaborate four-part performance chronicling a romantic tale, Flores explained that La Sevillana was the most basic form of flamenco dance. A coquettish beginning followed by the heat of initial attraction and the pangs of romantic ordeals, La Sevillana promptly ends with a reconciliation of both partners. “Its a four part love story, “ Flores said. “La Sevillana is like a party, you know fun, festive, and flirty.”
Before continuing, Flores explained her next dance, Fandango. The first time she performed solo, Fandango was the technique she used and thus it remains profoundly important to her. For 3 minutes, Flores built-up the speed of her foot taps and graceful movements to the song “La Flor/Fandangos de Huelva” by Los Alhama.
Going out with a bang, the dancer turned off her speakers and proceeded to display her independence from the soundtrack’s resonating beat. Using only her fine-tuned internal measure counts, Flores closed with an upbeat Buleria, usually performed by women at the end of parties to see whose solo skills are the best. “My Buleria is typically sadder than other ones,” Flores said with a smile before starting her finalé. However, the audience saw the Buleria as anything but sad, as they exploded with delight and cheers.
Flores took up flamenco dancing when she was twelve, and eventually joined a semi-professional dance troupe, Flamenco Andaluz, based in Chico.
The performance was spectacular but lacked an engaging audience, probably due to the fact that most were watching their first flamenco performance. Flores explained that in flamenco, an interactive relationship between performers and the crowd exists. This relationship is called jaleo. called jaleo exists. “What that creates is this communal energy,” Flores said. “In flamenco there’s something called duendé, and that’s the highest compliment you can give a flamenco performer because they have the ability to evoke a lot of emotion or they are able to create this spiritual moment.”
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