Flamenco painter Patricio Hidalgo took me for a fantastic flamenco night in the Spanish city of Seville in a place where he painted the stage design and where flamenco history is still very tangible. Read on to join me in my magical encounters with flamenco.
One of the greatest things of Seville is the omnipresence of flamenco. Different forms of flamenco can be enjoyed in different places. You can find flamenco on the streets or in the shops, in some hidden café or a dancing academy and of course in the official tablaos. And that is where I went this week, reporting back to you directly from Seville.
Visiting Tablao ‘Los Gallos’
Entering Tablao ‘Los Gallos’ I find myself in a room with an intimate atmosphere and seats for about fifty people. The well illuminated stage with Patricio Hidalgo’s mural in the back, creates an atmosphere of a flamenco party that seems to have already started. Made of white plaster walls, a staircase spiralling upwards and an anvil in the corner, the stage evokes old times when flamenco was only performed at home or in the smithy.
From café cantante to tablao
‘Los Gallos’ is indeed the oldest tablao in Seville, founded in 1966. A tablao is a crossing between a café and a theatre dedicated to flamenco entertainment. ‘Tablao’ is Andalusian for ‘tablado’, meaning ‘stage’, and they are modern day versions of the traditional café cantante.
In these so called cafés cantante of the 19th Century, flamenco first became a professional performing art and started crystallising into a well defined genre. They were cafe’s with a small stage, set up for entertainment. Here you could watch flamenco dancing, singing and guitar playing together with all sorts of entertainment, while enjoying your drink.
Patricio Hidalgo Morán painted the background at ‘Los Gallos’ and creates their promotional video’s. He is one of the few painters in the world that paints live on stage together with flamenco artists and with that he is quite a unique phenomenon in the world of flamenco.
As you can see, his painting is passionate, like flamenco. By throwing black splodges on white canvas and using his own hand prints to paint, he seeks to convey the passionate cry of the flamenco singer, the ardour of the flamenco dancer and the poetic melodies of the flamenco guitarist. Check out his website to watch this flamenco painter in action.
Flamenco for tourists?
Gipsy dancer from Granada, Alba Heredia, performing at Los Gallos.
One could call ‘Los Gallos’ a touristy place because of the high entrance fee and an audience consisting merely of foreigners. And the risk of artists working under contract like this, is that they might perform a routine without any emotion or engagement as if working their daily shift. I have seen that happen at several tablaos in Seville and it’s ugly, ruining the essence of flamenco, which in my opinion is about passion.
At Tablao ‘Los Gallos’ however, I was fortunate to see well known artists giving it their all. And moreover, there were ten of them on stage! What you see at Los Gallos may not be very intimate or personalised, but it is very professional and a good way to get to know flamenco.
For more flamenco adventures in Seville read my post: And all I could say was… “hola”
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