Spanish dancer

Las tres amigas left their new world nests last month and flew eastward to Spain’s southwestern city in the Andulucía province, (an hour’s flight from Lisbon) to fly among the golandrinas (swallows) of Sevilla.  They lost themselves in the old Jewish ghetto, Barrio Santa Cruz, where the streets narrow into a labyrinth of motor-free walkways that weave in between four story buildings with wrought iron street lanterns and wood lattice Arabic screens shading the windows from foreign eyes.  Potted plants dot second-story balconies and bamboo screens extend themselves over those balconies, shielding the great summer sun that descends upon the city each year like a fire breathing dragon.  Tapas bars dot this maze of residences, hotels, churches, and souvenir shops every couple of feet, with chalkboard menus listing the daily specials -none of which seem to vary much from day to day.

Gazpacho (tomato soup)
Aceitunas (olives)
Jamón Ibérico (Iberian ham)
Cañas (Draft beer)

Between the gazpacho: fresh, delicious, cold tomato soup infused with rich olive oil. fresh green pepper and a touch of oregano, and all that other stuff on the chalkboard, take a seat at any one of these places and they’re more or less the same, save for a bit of authentic decor that marks one place from the next.

It was one of these places that turned out to be one of the trip’s gems that will shine brightly in memory, at least for Marisol, one of las tres.   When walking along the river front walk that parallel’s Sevilla’s Guadalquivir river one evening, las tres wandered into a tapas bar that had a healthy crowd inside.  Most places do past 10 pm.

Searching for a table they realize there is a mini stage nestled within the tiny round tables where people pop olives and sample Spanish tortilla, sipping house wine from humbly small glasses.   There are no free tables, so the girls settle for one that’s pushed toward the back of the restaurant, straddling the edge of the main room but mostly in the back room where there are no people.   Marisol orders a vegetable ratatouille and is served a mush of 2 or 3 veggies in a thick smoked paprika tomato sauce.  Her friends  sample meatballs and mushrooms.  Lucky for them, they arrived to Spain knowing that the trip was not going to be about memorable culinary delights.

The show on the mini stage in the front room ends and the dancers and guitarist return to the back room.  Despite the presence of other foreigners in the bar, las tres feel good to be out of the touristy Barrio Santa Cruz.  Being the only ones in this back room make the experience that is about to unfold even more unique. Between sips of Jerez (sherry), their eyes turn toward the guitarist. He starts to play and the eldest of the thin, attractive dancers-perhaps in her early thirties, begins to tap her feet- her instruments of dance and rhythm.  The pace is quick and builds into a frenzy. T-t-t-t-tap tt–tap ta ta tap tap tap.  Her feet move so fast they become a blur, impossible to discern the individual movement of each foot.  It’s attached to the leg via the ankle in the most flexible of ways possible, as if it is its own body with a mind and musculature free from the demands of other limbs.  The foot is led by the rhythm of the guitar, the classic Spanish guitar used for flamenco rhythms that loop the rest of her body into sharp twists and turns.  Her wrists -outstretched- carve the air around her face. She sculpts her own invisible shadow- a chiseled chin, high cheek bones, and curls standing on end in a tightly gathered bun that rests on the top of her head.   Arms raised, they  twist and turn, framing her face, pirouetting in the air.  The Moorish influence on this dance is revealed in the wrists,  perhaps the only sensual part of this otherwise passionate and intensely lived art.  The dancer  spins while her feet keep tapping.  The musician’s eyes are locked on her face.  They communicate: she leads him even though it appears that she follows his advance.  They play on together for the next seven minutes or so- a marathon of time in the march of music.  Las tres sit still, entranced by the sound and by her movements. They are brought in as participants in this dance because the music does not allow the onlooker to just simply observe.  This is a music that stirs the soul.


~ by maureenmoore on June 18, 2011.

2 Responses to “Spanish dancer”

  1. Enchanting…

  2. I can’t imagine sitting still while watching and listening to such a performance as vividly described above! I guess that ‘back room’ wasn’t so bad after all !

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