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Flamenco Concert Highlights the Art Form’s Connection to Oppression and Suffering

alfredo espalda


By Peter Ramsey

Great art, it is said, comes from great suffering. Flamenco comes from a powerful self-expression of culture in the face of toil and oppression.

The Gypsies of Andalusia, Spain, were by trade, itinerant iron workers. The flamenco form Martinette is from the Spanish word martillo, meaning “hammer,” in this case, the rhythm of hammers on molten steel.

It is a testament to human will that such powerful self expression springs from such misery and despair. Flamenco, like American Blues, also born of toil and oppression, shares the idea with blues of call and response, a plea to anyone listening to answer the call. It’s like an echo location in the darkness. There is nothing sweet about the growl of Howlin’ Wolf or Hound Dog Taylor or the moan of Canto Jondo. These are expressions of deep emotions that root us to what is real, albeit painful, about life and the human condition. But, strangely, they are not depressing or morbid, but uplifting and liberating. It feels good to embrace mortality and suffering. These songs resonate in our core and ground us to our life while walking through this world full of injustice. They give us strength to go on. These songs somehow make it easier to cope in an unjust world. This is a concept that is lost to the generation of dance clubs and the pursuit of escape.

Both blues and flamenco are the antithesis of this. Flamenco is the music of coping with reality rather than hiding from it. Blues is defined in terms of soul, flamenco in terms of duende (the spirit), but they are the same.

One hundred years ago, the great flamenco poet Federico Garcia Lorca wrote: “The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. The duende is not in the throat. The duende climbs up inside you from the souls of your feet.”


Dancing, music, and singing

Duende “The Spirit of Flamenco”

Ángela García Esperón

Wed, Jan 16 and 30, 5pm

Teatro Ángela Peralta

Mesones 86

400 pesos luneta

250 pesos palcos

100 pesos galería


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