Thursday, June 05, 2014

Festival Flamenco

The yearly Albuquerque Flamenco Festival is scheduled for June 8-14.  There are performances and workshops throughout the week, and a free History Symposium on June 8 and 9 at the Carlisle Gym Dance Space at UNM.

Cinco de Mayo -- Mesilla, New Mexico
Pentax Spotmatic -- Mamiya f-3.5 135mm
I stopped by the UNM Flamenco Program offices this morning and picked up a schedule of the presentations at the History Symposium:

Though I'm not a very musical person I've always enjoyed Flamenco performances on many levels.  I'm looking forward to dispelling some of my ignorance on the topic at the upcoming Symposium this weekend.

dieciséis de septiembre -- Mesilla, New Mexico
Pentax Spotmatic -- Mamiya f-3.5 135mm
The Bulerías is the emblematic palo of flamenco: today its 12-beat cycle is most often played with accents on the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th and 12th beats. The accompanying palmas are played in groups of 6 beats, giving rise to a multitude of counter rhythms and percussive voices within the 12 beat compás.[wikipedia]
Below is a nice example from youtube:

The Alibi has a good background article about the Festival, including the local involvement of the National Institute of Flamenco.
The conference was fun; certainly a lot better than any of the academic conferences I recall attending in the past.  It makes me wonder if other disciplines are making as good use of video and projection resources these days.  Of course, the impact of the presentations was greatly enhanced by the fact that all of the presenters were also performing artists and brought both knowledge and passion to the task.
    It would have been a good idea to schedule the round-table earlier in the event as presenters and audience were kind of worn down at the end of two days.  The round-table topic was The Role of Improvisation in Traditional and Contemporary Flamenco.  The moderator, Estela Zatania, made the good point that the trend toward large, theatrical performances decreases the opportunity for real improvisation.  Jazz was cited as an important model, but it seemed to me they all missed an opportunity to explore the ideas that improvisation is another name for originality and that improvisation is an important element in all art forms including painting and photography, for instance.

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