Friday, 1 April 2016

Spain 2016 - Seville, Flamenco; Museum and Show

On the internet last night, checking on trains to Madrid, I noticed that 2 of the trains were already sold out for Sunday. First job this morning was to go and get my train ticket. Interesting system - if you are buying a ticket for today you just go up to one of the wickets marked Para Hoy. If for another day, you go to a machine, push an unmarked button (there are 3 of them), it gives you a printed number and you wait for that number to come up on one of the wickets marked Otra Dia. Luckily I asked at the information desk and got the system explained to me, but there was no explanation anywhere else so tourists (and non tourists for that matter) kept wandering in, getting in line and messing up the system which would piss of those of us following it and ended up with a lot of harsh words between customers and ticket agents . Clear signage would have made all the difference but as I was in no great rush I found it fascinating. It was almost as if the train station administration wanted to get people pissed of at each other.
Train ticket purchased, I got back on the bus and headed down to the Cathedral area to try and find my way to the Flamenco Museum. I had been warned that it was in the maze of narrow streets that is Barrio Santa Cruz and oh yes it was!
Left over from Easter, an intricately braided palm frond.
I'd like to be able to use something like this as a landmark but it disappears round the next corner.
Or this.
Explains all the scraped car doors and broken wing mirrors.
Came across these. I'm sure I could never find them again. When I looked on the map it just said "Romanos".
Finally, that's the Flamenco Museum.
I paid to see the museum and to go to the show tonight at 5pm, not cheap - 24 Euro. The only Flamenco Museum in the world though.
It is very well done. I was lucky, I went through it by myself, so I could pick English language at all the displays and didn't have to rush because someone was behind me. It would have been much harder if there were a bunch of people in there (I read some reviews on Tripadvisor that mentioned how it ruined the experience)
A photo of the video being shown in the first room along with an explanation that Flamencos roots include Greek style, African drums, Andalucian folk music and Gypsy passion.

Next room had some displays and film but the majority of the information was on the 4 computers. With headphones on I learned about the different styles of Flamenco and the different schools as well as the clothing, musical instruments and accessories.
Walking through the next room narration and video  took me from locals dancing spontaneously on patios and in bars, through  the 1920s when more leisure time meant more demand for staged shows and then to professional Flamenco dancers, movies, competitions and festivals.
This room had displays of famous Flamenco dancers costumes, suitcases, castanets,programs etc etc, all explained on interactive touch screens.
The final room had a movie of Flamenco with a group of male and female dancers, beautifully done. On the second floor and in the basement there were photographs, paintings and line drawings. On the main floor there was a class going on. I stepped back out into the sun and realized that I didn't want to spend any more time indoors today so I walked down to the river and had my apple and cheese on a bench across for the Torre de Oro. I then did a quick sketch of it.
The were 3 kittens playing in the park I walked through. This is one
and this another, the 3rd was long gone.
I enjoyed the sun and then went back to the hotel to put my feet up for an hour before heading back to the museum for the show.
The stage area is in what used to be the courtyard of the building. Its very tight quarters for the number of seats they put in and all of the seats were taken.
I was there at least half an hour early and half of the seats were occupied however you could get a good view from any of them. There was a bar so some people had drinks and there were a surprising number of families with young children there. Waiting for half an hour and then sitting through some guitar solos and singing wasn't great for the smaller ones and they got cranky, but the little girls, some of them wearing their tourist bought Flamenco dresses, were mesmerized (I can just imagine them begging Mum and Dad for the shoes and the lessons).
We were asked not to take video and not to use flash so my photos aren't great.
I'd love to pretend that I am deliberately being artistic but no, just a camera that couldn't deal with the low light levels.
The program included some tragic dances and at least one joyful one but I have to admit that the expression of both the male and female dancers faces was just intense, concentrated and worried.
His hair was not actually blue, just the lighting.
The guitarist was amazing. He accompanied the dancers, the singer and he did a solo. The singer had a very expressive face, sometimes you could make out words but sometimes he sounded like the Muslim call to prayer, but it was obvious from looking at him he was singing about extreme emotional pain.
The female dancer did 3 numbers. In this one the dress had a train and part of the dance involved spinning and kicking the train into position.
Sometimes she picked up the train and you could see the intricate footwork. The combination of foot stamping, tapping and clapping were like gunshots sometimes and could be very rapid.
The male dancer had a solo too and his footwork was very fast and there was a lot of kicking and twirling. This must have been a twirl. By the end of it, when he spun, the sweat flew off him.
The show was about an hour, so over at 6pm. There are 2 more shows, one at 7 and one at 9. I walked back as the sun was getting low and no longer warming the streets. Had a couple of tapas and a glass of wine at Casa Carlos and then home to look at my photos and write this blog. Tomorrow I hope to get to the bullring.

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