Archives for posts with tag: Film

Flamenco dolls in a tourist shop in Granada

Flamenco. The word is a familiar part of Spain’s image, like paella and bull-fighting. And like these 2 others, flamenco has often been corrupted for the purposes of tourism, but at the same time continues to be a source of Spanish pride and a part of its modern culture. The little shops around the Cathedral near our apartment are crammed with flamenco dolls, flamenco dress aprons and mugs, caps, postcards and you-name-it bearing images of flamenco dancers. Yet, at school, when I asked several of my high school students if they were interested in flamenco, the response was a resounding “Yes!” UNESCO (a special branch of the UN dedicated to culture, science and education) fanned the flames of flamenco’s popularity since it just added flamenco to their World Non-material Cultural Heritage list this month, a decision seen here in Spain as a purely official recognition of something already widely valued.

I think flamenco is a difficult art form to appreciate at first view, kind of like modern art for many. In the performances I’ve seen (which, mind you, belong to the tourist category above) the singer’s voice sounded whiny and the dancer maintained a sorrowful grimace through most of the performance. The timing and flow were a mystery as a majority of the show seemed to evolve completely spontaneously. Flamenco is the opposite of ballet. In place of rigid spines, slender and young girls, classical music and delicate tutus there are rather guttural-sounding plaintive utterances, brightly-colored, polka-dotted, tight-fitting dresses on women who are not necessarily young or slim, loud clapping, and riotous cheers. The effect on an uninformed first-time viewer can produce bafflement about its popularity.

Flamenco performance at a cultural center in Sevilla

Flamenco, Flamenco is a recently-released film that showcases flamenco’s ample variety and beauty. It was entered in the Seville Film Fest which we attended in early November, but unfortunately the tickets were sold out to this movie when we went. Now that it’s in theaters here, we had another opportunity to see it. The film artistically presents one flamenco performance after another, with no voice-over, just dancing, singing and guitar-playing. It unites many talented performers that a typical spectator of flamenco would never get the opportunity to see.

The conviviality among the performers that flamenco’s room for improvisation creates was so clear. They seemed to challenge, inspire and energize each other during a performance. At the same time, some of the dances had been clearly choreographed to a breath-taking effect. The synchronicity between the dancers and musicians produced different results depending on the combination of players, such as tension-fraught love, admiring colleagues or raucous family gatherings. I would definitely recommend it as a means to have a look into this oft-adulterated art form and to understand Spain, and its people that love this thing called flamenco, just a little bit more.

Here is the Youtube link to Flamenco, Flamenco’s trailer…I don’t think it’s scheduled to be released in U.S. theaters, but if you get a chance to Netflix it, you’re in for a special visual and auditory experience!


The prospect of our long weekends here in Sevilla from the perspective of Thursday night can seem a bit daunting in figuring out how we will fill up the many hours without deadlines, commutes and early bedtimes. After our initial “hallelujahs!” at the end of the work week, we turn to pondering this “problem.” Since our social circle is still small, this can seem especially challenging.  Here is how this weekend unfolded…

FRI.: A little bit of culture…

Chilling in the museum gallery.

At the moment, there is an exhibition of a wildlife photographer’s work near the Alcázar. Julia and I went to take a peek. The collection is titled “A Zebra in My Bed.” Though there were no beds to be found in her pictures, there were lots of incredible nature shots. The exhibit is organized around 6 high-def TV screens set to slide-shows of the photos. Each TV screen represent a a “theme” of wildlife that the photographer focused on: Intelligence-looks, love-maternity, beauty-black and white, connection-pairs, fascination-birds and power-action and the photographs were grouped accordingly. It was impressive! Here is a link that shows just a few of her photos:

That night, we also attended the European Film Festival that’s been in Sevilla for the past week with one of our neighbors. We saw a film which was an hour and a half of interviews with a 91-year old Spanish woman! It was certainly a linguistic challenge for Julia and I.

SAT.: Deep sea encounters…

Pulpo a la gallega

On Saturday, a friend from our program was in town, and so went to lunch…around 3pm of course! Julia was brave enough to order the pulpo (translation=octopus) a la gallega, which involves a drenching of olive oil and a showering of sweet paprika. The dish was a bit intimidating, especially without the cooked potatoes that sometimes accompany the octopus. Needless to say, there were a couple of tentacles left on the plate when we left. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste!

SUN.: Rain, rain, rain…

Riding the tranvía

We found a church in an outer neighborhood of Sevilla (Protestant churches are few and far between here in predominately Catholic Spain), and it’s a bit of a public transportation adventure to get there for Sunday morning services (not that Julia and I have any lack of experience on public transpo thanks to our commutes!). Here’s a pic Julia snapped of me on the tram outside of our apartment.

Today was the first really rainy day we’ve had here. This meant 2 things…

Julia at the Starbucks across from our apartment. No peppermint mochas and eggnog lattes here- Starbucks decided that toffee nut lattes and praline mochas are more to the Spanish taste.

Holiday drinks at Starbucks and…

Santa penguin socks!!!

Have a jolly pre-holiday day!