The best way to see a flamenco band perform is to happen upon a genuine gypsy session in a bar in any part of Spain, but particularly in Andalucia, where the music developed. When it gets going, when the singer and crowd has goaded the guitarist into performing with duende, or soul, and the whole room shifts into a different spiritual plane, an amazing spirit of rhythm takes over the room. The audience starts its staccato clapping, and the bailaores (dancers) start their clackety-clack dancing with its distinctive hand movements. It’s quite an incredible experience.
But not one you’re likely to stumble upon down the Lansdown or the Royal Oak. And so, thanks to the Lewes Live Lit festival, we get the next best thing, a touring show from a group of professionals, in this case the Jesus Herrera group from Seville. Jesus is one of two dancers in the group (the other is the bailaora Lola Jaramillo), and is backed by two guitarists, Jose Manuel Tudela and Ruben Martinez, and two singers, Kiko de Alcala and El Trini. The show is called Alma Flamenca (‘the soul of flamenco’) and takes the audience through various styles of this genre of music, which is for some, more of a way of life. If you’re very lucky the crowd will get caught up in the spirit of things, and you’ll get to feel the duende, the flamenco equivalent of reaching orgasm. If you don’t, it’s likely to be a riveting performance, all the same. ¡Andale! AL