Monday, October 1, 2012

Song, Dance, & the Spanish Guitar

When I started this blog about my exposure to the Latino world, I didn't mean to include Spain. My primary focus was on Afro-Latinos from Puerto Rico, all the way down to Argentina. However, because Spain is the mother country of Latin-America, and because I have a musical appreciation for the Spanish guitar, I started taking a personal interest in flamenco, a genre of song, dance, and the Spanish guitar from Andalusia in southern Spain.

As a salsa dancer wanting to add new dance moves to my repertoire, I got together with Jesús, an Afro-Cuban dancer to teach me some basic rumba moves. In doing so, he shared some history that made perfect sense; rumba was born when the music of West African slaves merged with Spanish flamenco in Cuba. It's the result of a love affair between the African drum and the Spanish guitar, as Harry Belafonte, the King of Calypso puts it.

Just recently, I went to my second flamenco performance directly from Spain at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, and like the first performance, I felt moved and connected to the music. This time, the performance contained a whole family following the tradition of their Gypsy ancestors. One of the young boys in the group seemed to be imitating Michael Jackson to flamenco rhythms. Either that, or Michael Jackson incorporated some flamenco moves into his dance repertoire. Although, I could enjoy the Spanish guitar as background music. I have not yet reached a point where I can just sit and listen flamenco on CD and enjoy it the way I enjoy a live performance. I've tried.