Home Thoughts From A Broad: Flamenco in Valencia

A new column by Kealani Nanz details life in Valencia from the perspective of a North Virginian gal passing through. This week: the impassioned cry of flamenco at Cafe del Duende in Extramurs…

Coming to Spain for the first time as a foreigner, knowing little of the soul of the place aside from aesthetics heard from friends and online, I can only hope to truly unravel the mystery that comes with living in a new place. I come here with a yearning to feel the stories of others and to tell my own as well. Storytelling is the often-unseen force that drives purposeful life, that aids in the possibilities to enrich a soul, understand yourself and empathise with others.

So here goes my first journal…

The second evening here, after the jet-lag had mostly subsided, we had gone to see a flamenco show at La Café del Duende. With few expectations, nor knowledge for what the occasion would obtain, I maintained the yearning to always be surprised. Upon entering, I saw that the place was smaller than I had expected. I found a dim tavern-like bar with an even smaller stage raised only a few inches from the floor. Crowded by the tables and chairs that filled the already small room, I found a seat at a barstool in the back corner next to the student coordinator. She is a friendly young woman from Wales. I waited expectantly for the show to begin…

The performers silently entered the room and positioned themselves upon the stage for the show. Three men, plump-faced with an air of humour and love for life entered first, one with a clearly well-loved guitar and two of them singers. Then entered two women, vivacious, elegant and mysterious, wearing vividly colourful dresses. And thus began the show.

Seeing flamenco in real life, I know now, is incomparable to videos I’ve seen online and via projectors in a Spanish classroom . I cannot share the exact feeling of experiencing that art within a couple paragraphs. But I can try to describe the movement and the feeling I had during the performance. The way the guitar played shook the room almost as much as the stomping from the dancers. The intricacy and movement of the player’s fingers, knowing every rhythm and position as if it were coded into his DNA. Paired with the intensity of the dancing, the sensations filled the room and my body with art and history. I don’t know much about dance, but every time they moved, I could sense the history and meaning they crafted. Being able to watch them dance, every part of them moving from the rhythmic stepping, to the complex and mysterious facial expressions. To the complexity of each move at their fingertips provokes imagination and wonder in a form of storytelling often overlooked today.

When I watch live acts in the performing arts, I like to switch focus from wide to narrow lens throughout. Feeling how the perspective of the entire room, and every sound is coded into my memory, and then focus in on every aspect of the performance. How the men’s bodies moved as they sang their sad poetic pleas for love, or exciting ones pushing me to go for whatever I may be searching for in life. The intricate stepping pattern of the dancers, the way their dresses would flow in each move.. The sorrowful or flirtatious look on their faces.. Forms of energy that culminated and channelled only to be released through the dancing of their hands and fingertips.

In a space that felt so clear and close, there was so much mystery in the show. The songs often had ambiguous lyrics with strange direct translations. These were hard to explain even for those with me that spoke Spanish fluently. The men singing, elongating their phrases so every sentence ended with their voices stretching forward like tumbling down an uneven staircase. A mystery whether they planned every note change, or if every performance would have a unique set of vocal runs. I wanted to know more about the lives of every performer. It seemed as if they had stepped through a portal into 2024 from a different century. It felt as though I had witnessed a form of time travel.

Walking home from that first full day in Valencia I reflected on the potential and possibilities for the next few weeks. How could I convey a meaningful experience? How could I share personal and purposeful journals with other people? How could I leave this trip a wiser and fuller version of myself? Opening my heart to vulnerability and the infinity of directions in everything I do is always easier said than done. I hope to use my changing life perspective to paint my own unique story.

Get our latest news & Offers
Verified by MonsterInsights