On the night of January 18th, the class and I attended a flamenco show in the “gypsy caves” of Granada. After reading Melissa’s post on the flamenco of Seville, I’m reflecting on how different these two performances were. Firstly, the venue was quite literally a cave. The dancers and musicians performing at its mouth, while we the spectators sat along the walls and against the back of the enclosure. This set-up created a catwalk for the performers to move up and down, which was very different from the stationary stage performance in Seville. This made for a new take on flamenco, it was much more performative in the sense that the dancers were using more of the space and directly engaging with the audience. Our classmate Nia was even pulled up to dance!
The walls of the cave were decorated with multicolored lights and photos of past flamenco performers across generations. Already, I knew that the elements and manner of this setting would make for a much more exaggerated version of the flamenco we had seen in Seville. This flamenco seemed to employ elements of drag. The women wore heavy makeup and had feminine padding beneath their elaborate costumes. It reminded me of an article called, Invoking “The Native”, by Jane C. Desmond. This article explores the “authenticity” of modern Hawaiian tourism, primarily surrounding hula. To compare hula and flamenco, they are both cultural dances which are now presented and marketed in a certain way to appeal to contemporary tourism. The article ascertains that true authenticity doesn’t exist, and that observing any cultural practice as an outsider automatically makes it disingenuous to the original practice or art form. But I digress, it was still very fun! I say all of this because I find it so fascinating how the performers present their own version of flamenco while still keeping its central elements of rhythm, collaboration, and storytelling.