Flamenco in Barcelona

This text is from summer of 2015 when I had my first flamenco classes in Spain while living in Barcelona for two months. The text has previously been published in Minna en el Mundo on 28.7.2015. It can also be found in the Minna en el Mundo -section of this blog.

On this trip I also got to experience what it is like to take flamenco classes in its original environment. Really exciting! From Cornellà de Llobregat, near Barcelona, I managed to find a school that had courses by renowned flamenco maestros during the weekends. My first experience with the school was quite astounding as when I arrived for the first class, I found that it had started a half an hour too early. Spanish sense of time upside down…

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Escuela de Flamenco Paca García

I took part in two so called master classes, short courses of two days. My first teacher was a really sweet and incredibly talented yound bailaora from Jerez, Gema Moneo. She taught us a really fiery bulerias, well, I don’t know if taught is the right way to say it… Maybe she showed us what she wanted and then we had to try to comply. Really not my strongest skill… but at least I got to practise that! The second course was taught by Alfonso Losa, who was at least a bit familiar from his course in Helsinki in March. Losa taught us three hours of bulerias on Saturday and three hours of tangos on Sunday and a bit of technique in the beginning of each day. The material was typical Losa, I felt like I should have been moving into three directions at once. However, the persistent technique training from the spring paid of as Losa did show me that my technique was quite good although there is a lot of work to be done with my speed.

I did not manage to learn or memorize a lot of material from these two courses but the most important thing was that I had the courage to go and that I survived in really tough company in a completely unfamiliar surroundings. I learned once again how much I can already do and, on the other hand, got a reminder of how much there is still to learn. But, I have the rest of my life to learn! And the most important lesson was that it was not the end of the world that I did not learn everything. In fact, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I hadn’t managed to learn any material at all!

Flamenco is hot Helsinki

This text can also be found on the Minna en el Mundo -page of this blog. 


The Helsinki flamenco community is an active one and it seems that this Winter and Spring have been especially buzzing with flamenco. We have enjoyed a vast array of performances varying from the very traditional to extremely contemporary. Helsinki Flamenco Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary with nine events within nine days with Compañía Rafaela Carrasco as headliner with its celebrated “Nacida Sombra“. Apart from “Nacida Sombra”, which was greeted with a standing ovation, the festival featured an Opening Club with performances from aficionados, the 8th Children and Youth flamenco biennale, dance courses by Rafaela Carrasco, an open public event of flamenco music “Flamencoa Stagella” at a central library, Finnish evening with Joonas Widenius Trio and the Décadas – Flamencon voimaa – concert, a preview of Impulso, a document of the work of Rocío Molina (showing in collaboration with Espoo Cine and Korjaamo Kino) and a Brindamos Finlandia closing club in collaboration with the Brindamos collective.

Apart from the festival, this Winter and Spring we have been able to enjoy of the traditional tablaos organized by the Brindamos collective, both Brindamos Flamenco featuring artists from Spain and Brindamos Finlandia featuring artists from Finland. On the more contemporary front, Compañía Kaari & Roni Martin premiered in March their new piece Anna Karenina with their trusted artists, the beautiful and expressive Mariana Collado as Anna Karenina and the charming and skilled Carlos Chamorro as Count Vronski , and a very interesting appearance by a Finnish contemporary dance legend, Jorma Uotinen, as Count Karenin. Kaari Martin‘s choreography, Atro Kahiluoto‘s dramaturgy and Roni Martin‘s interesting music together with the skilled dancers made for a great experience. Furthermore, the Katja Lundén Company performed the celebrated Flamenco Sauna performance this week, a piece that premiered in the 2017 edition of the Tampere Flamenco Week.

I have been fortunate as, in addition to having been a part of the production of the festival as the Chair of Helsinki Flamenco Association, I have been able to participate in many of the events produced in the Helsinki flamenco scene.  I enjoy the traditional tablao performances of the Brindamos collective whenever I can and was a delighted member of the audience of the skillful Anna Karenina with my husband and Flamenco Sauna with my mother. For this blog post I have chosen to write a bit more about Flamenco Sauna as the concept of combining the quintessential Spanish flamenco and equally quintessential Finnish sauna is quite an interesting one. The piece starts with the accordion music of Kimmo Pohjonen, entwined in a mystical feeling as the dancers Katja Lundén, Sanna Iranta, Johanna Komppa, Elina Nissinen, Laura Lahe and Laura Viding enter the stage one by one. Quite soon, however, the mood is changed to the more relaxed atmosphere of a girls’ night in a sauna, maybe in a Finnish lake scenery or in a traditional public sauna in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Each viewer can make up their mind on this. However, the feeling of friendship carries through the whole performance.

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Flamenco Sauna graphic design by Laura Viding

The piece represents Katja Lundén’s a bit quirky, contemporary style with very interesting and cool rhythmic sections but also lets each dancer bring forth their own personality and strengths. It is obvious that the group is very comfortable working together and, due to this, the material flows. Katja Lundén’s mastery of her own choreographical style is beyond par, but I am also impressed especially by the relaxed, yet precise use of the body of Sanna Iranta and Elina Nissinen. One of my favorite moments in Flamenco Sauna is the juerga-style tangos where each dancer showcases their own style freely. Especially heartwarming moments are the towel tangos of Laura Viding and the bucket tangos of Elina Nissinen. Flamenco Sauna also gives room for other forms of expression and I was delighted by the slightly humorous monologues by Johanna Komppa and the beautiful singing of Laura Lahe. Overall, this is a very enjoyable piece where the black stage is accentuated with the simple linen dress of the dancers by Erika Turunen, a dress so suited to the imagery of a sauna. A dress also that stands on its own but does not take away from the intrigue of the music and choreography, producing a quite harmonious entity.

As an aficionado and student of flamenco whose aim is to constantly learn and understand more of this fascinating art form, I find it essential to see and hear different kinds of pieces and styles of flamenco. While I find traditional flamenco to be the closest to my heart – both as a dancer and a spectator – it is good to challenge myself with contemporary pieces, with different kinds of expression, to learn more. In Helsinki there is ample opportunity for this. Flamenco truly is hot in Helsinki.

Flamenco Visions @ Nukketeatteri Sampo

This is my first English language flamenco post within this blog. It will be later added to the Minna en el Mundo -page to be part of my flamenco text library. 


Only two days before the second birthday of the premiere of Imperfecto flamenco show, the Imperfecto Collective presents Flamenco Visions, a rendering of what the collective envisions that flamenco is – or can be – for them. The piece incorporates both new material and material from the Imperfecto show in the intimate, and a bit dreamy setting of the charming Nukketeatteri Sampo – a puppet theater – in downtown Helsinki.

Flamenco Visions brings to the stage a tablao setting of flamenco music, song and dance with Juho Koskimies in the guitar and composition, Anna Murtola in the vocals and Elina Robinson as dancer and choreographer. Christian Robinson is in charge of video design and together with Elina Robinson of the overall visual image. The rhythm is kept strong and clear by trusted palmeras Laura Rintamäki and Anne Riikola-Sarkkila and featuring supporting percussionist Christopher Rodulfo, a new addition the team. As is so essential to flamenco, the team works perfectly together, cheering each other on in the perfect moments and supporting each other in the fleeting moments of imperfection. It is evident to the viewer that the team enjoys working together and there is great trust between them.

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The Flamenco Visions banner by Christian Robinson

Once again I was struck with awe with the talent of this team. The compositions of Juho Koskimies are at same time strong and fragile and he seems to be at his best when he lets the moment guide him. Yesterday we heard magical duende take over in the farruca of the second half. I must confess, there were tears in my eyes. Anna Murtola has a voice that I could listen to forever with incredible power but also softness where needed. The star moment yesterday – to my mind – was the tangos also during the second half, where the singer was standing and the dancer – Elina Robinson – danced around her, also a show of complete trust for and togetherness with each other.

The show has been insightfully constructed with video and visual design that stands on its own, but also does not overtake what is going on on stage. Christian Robinson’s strong style and the Robinsons’ cooperation brings forth stunning visuality, especially in the beginning of the show, where we can see Elina Robinson dancing both on the screen and on stage. Elina Robinson’s choreography flows with strong technique and beautiful lyric moments. In the first half we see both a technically and expressionally impressive rendering of the lovely, powerful, but feminine bamberas palo, one of my personal favorites at the moment. However, my favorite moments come during the second half with the above-mentioned tangos where there is a strong connection between co-flamencas and friends Elina Robinson and Anna Murtola, a piece that has previously been a duet with the equally talented Anne Riikola-Sarkkila, but now adapted to a solo. However, for me Flamenco Visions reaches its best moment in the end with Elina Robinson’s siguiriyas solo, a piece I counted I have seen 6 or 7 times, and becomes better with each viewing. It is clear that the piece has grown with the dancer and the dancer with the piece.

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Just moments before… Photo by Jaana Ollila

As I ponder on the fact that the already familiar Imperfecto material feels so much closer to my heart, I come to the realization that in flamenco it is often essential to see or hear pieces several times. With each viewing or listening, the piece is at the same time different but also comes closer to the audience. This reminds me of what the great flamenco artist and maestra María Juncal comments about her piece Quimera (as can be heard on Youtube at moment 4.53 of the linked video):

No es un traje que te puedes cambiar. Viene contigo todos los días. Y por eso creo que flamenco tiene tanta mágia, nunca estás de misma manera quando llegas a un escenario y ni siquiera a un estudio de baile. Tu sentimiento es otro. Tu corazón… tu cuerpo está revuelto de otra manera, sería…

It is not a costume that you can change into. It goes with you everyday. And this is why I think flamenco has such magic. Each time you enter the stage – or even a dance studio – is different. Your feelings are different. Your heart… your body is set up in a different way, it would be…

This is so true, I think, more in flamenco than any other art form (just my personal opinion). Flamenco is so strongly connected to the people doing it and the feelings that they are feeling, the way they body works that day, that each time on stage or in a dance studio is decidedly different. This is why I have seen Imperfecto four times and would see it again, and why for example Elina Robinson’s siguiriyas is magical the 7th time around, and will be so the 8th time, as well. As it is no secret that these artists are very close to my heart, I can only say that I am very lucky to have learned from them, from Laura Rintamäki the variation between the calm and the dynamic, from Anne Riikola-Sarkkila the importance of clean lines, from Anna Murtola the way to listen to the music, Juho Koskimies the daring to improvise and from the Robinsons the uncompromising attitude towards the visual. And Elina Robinson, my longest running flamenco teacher, well, so many things, but I think most of all, the daring to dance with your heart open. I also look forward to hearing much more from Christopher Rodulfo –  and of course to seeing Christian Robinson dance the bulerías next time around. Thank you so much Imperfecto Collective and Flamenco Visions for touching my heart.

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Nukketeatteri Sampo Photo by Liisa Sarén

Vinkkini Madridiin

Madrid-vinkkini olen viimeksi päivittänyt kesällä 2016 ja ne on aiemmin julkaistu Minna en el Mundon Mundo-palstalla. 

“De Madrid al Cielo”

Ihana Madrid on ehdoton lempikohteeni, jossa parasta on vain katsella elämänmenoa ja nauttia kirkkaansinisestä taivaasta ja katsella kaunista arkkitehtuuria.

Flamenco Tablao Casa Patas

Autenttinen flamenco tablao Lavapiésin kaupunginosassa Madridin keskustassa. Ennen esitystä on mahdollista myös nauttia illallista. Varaus suositeltava. Lippuun sisältyy yksi juoma.

Templo de Débod

Egyptistä Madridiin kuljetettu temppeli, jota ympäröivästä puistosta on upea näköala kuninkaanlinnalle. Suositeltava auringonlaskun aikaan, mutta kaunis myös päivällä. Erityisen ihastuttava paikka ihailla Madridin kaunista taivasta.

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Auringonlasku Templo de Débodilla

 

Baños Arabes – Hammam Al Andalus

Uusi tuttavuus ja todella ihana sellainen on Calle de Toledolla sijaitseva Baños Arabes Hammam al-andalus. Puolentoista tunnin aikana voi nauttia etukäteen varatusta hieronnasta ja lämmin-kuuma-kylmä -altaista ja turkkilaisesta saunasta.

Sunnuntai: Rastro & Retiro / Sunday: Rastro & Retiro

El Rastro -kirpputori järjestetään sunnuntaiaamupäivisin La Latinan kaupunginosassa. Rastrolla kiertelyn jälkeen nautitaan tapaksia ja vermuttia Calle de la Cava Bajalla tai lähikaduilla. Alkuillasta suunnataan El Parque del Buen Retiroon nauttimaan picniciä, soutelemaan järvellä tai vain rentoutumaan.

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Parque del Buen Retiro

Plaza Matute

Pikkuruinen Plaza Matute aivan entisen suosikkimme Plaza de Santa Anan kupeessa hakkaa kilpailijansa täysin. Suosikeiksemme aukiolla osoittautuivat drinkkibaari El Imperfecto, ravintola Matute ja gourmethampurilaisravintola Alta Burguersía. Matutesta mainittakoon, että sieltä saa aivan erinomaisen lounaan 10 eurolla (terassiruokailusta tulee +1 euro). Suosittelen!

Päiväretki: Toledo

Espanjan vanha pääkaupunki, Toledo, on upea sekoitus kristittyjen, maurien ja juutalaisten historiaa noin puolen tunnin junamatkan päässä Madridista.

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Näköala Gran Víalle

La Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes
Terassille on pääsymaksu ja palvelun taso ei päätä huimaa, mutta Círculo de Bellas Artes -taidekeskuksen kattoterassilta on upeat näköalat kauniiseen kaupunkiin.

Flamenco content under Minna en el Mundo

As my previous blog Minna en el Mundo has been ranked 24th on the Blog Feedspot Top 40 Flamenco Blogs on the Planet, I have decided to include flamenco content in English on this blog, as well. This content can be found on the Minna en el Mundo page of the blog and it will include both chosen posts from the previous blog as well as new content on all things flamenco. The travel and food content of this blog will be in Finnish.

The first post on flamenco is on my Thesis about flamenco travel published in January 2017 at Haaga Helia School of Applied Sciences. Other texts will follow soon.  I hope that you will visit the page and enjoy its contents!

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Photo by Paula Partanen

Valintani Barcelonassa

Tämä kirjoitus on alunperin julkaistu blogissani Minna en el Mundo 28.7.2015, kun olin Barcelonassa kahden kuukauden työharjoittelussa ja asustimme puolisoni kanssa La Barcelonetan kaupunginosassa.

Vaikka eilinen pilke silmäkulmassa kirjoitettu blogikirjoitus saattoi antaa hieman sellaisen kuvan, että  asenteeni Barcelonaa kohtaan on negatiivinen, ei asia ole niin. Nuo asiat ovat vain huomioita, joita olen tässä parin kuukauden aikana tehnyt. Totuus on, että Barcelona on hieno suurkaupunki, jossa riittää nähtävää ja ihmeteltävää jokaiselle. Koska olen käynyt Barcelonassa aiemminkin ja nyt oli runsaasti aikaa tutustua muihinkin paikkoihin kuin ihan “tavallisimpiin” nähtävyyksiin, olen päässyt käymään monenlaisissa paikoissa. Esimerkiksi kävimme katsomassa heinäkuun alussa paikallisten flamencokoulujen “Catalunya promet” -näytöstä Nou Barrisin jokakesäisillä flamencofestivaaleilla. Nou Barrisiin ei useinkaan ulkomaalaisia ilmeisesti eksy, kun takaisin tullessa taksikuski kysyi, että mitä ihmettä oikein teimme siellä asti, vaikka melko sujuvaa espanjaa puhunkin.

Tässä minun suosikkini tältä reissulta:

Monasterio de Pedralbes
Kuningatar Elisendan 1300-luvulla rakennuttama klarissalaisluostari, joka toimi vielä 1980-luvulla luostarina on rauhaisa nähtävyys Pedralbesin kaupunginosassa. Luostarissa pääsee tutustumaan nunnien elinoloihin monelta vuosisadalta. Luostarille pääsee keskustasta FGC-junalla, pysäkki on nimeltään Reina Elisenda.  Luostarin lähistöllä kannattaa myös katsastaa Finca Güellin lohikäärmeportti, joka on Antoni Gaudín suunnittelema ja Palacio Real de Pedralbesin kauniit puutarhat. Palacio Realin edestä pääsee metrolla takaisin keskustaan.


Parque Laberinto de Horta
Myös Hortan labyrinttipuisto sijaitsee hieman kauempana kaupungin vilinästä. Sinne pääsee helpoiten metrolla, pysäkki on nimeltään Mundet. Labyrinttipuisto ja sen takana sijaitseva metsikkö on myös aikanaan kuulunut aatelissuvulle ennen kuin siitä tuli yleinen puisto. Picniceväät mukaan ja eksymään labyrinttiin! Labyrintin lisäksi puistosta löytyy myös lukuisia pieniä vesiputouksia. Todella ihastuttava ja rauhallinen paikka lähellä kaupungin keskustaa.

Tablao Casa Camarón de la Isla
Tämä aivan uusi tablao avasi ovensa vasta kesäkuun lopussa ja kuulin siitä barcelonalaiselta flamencotanssijalta Sonia Salmerónilta. Tablao sijaitsee noin viiden minuutin päässä Sagrada Familian kirkolta, Verdaguerin metroaseman lähistöllä. Tablaon ideana on tarjota mahdollisimman autenttista flamencoa Barcelonassa. Toivotaan, että yleisö löytää tämän tablaon, sillä miljöö on todella viehättävä ja tablaoon on panostettu paljon. Myös tunnin mittainen show oli erittäin hyvä. www.casacamaron.com

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Tablao Casa Camarón

Pares Baltà
Barcelonassa ollessa kannattaa ehdottomasti vierailla viinitilalla. Ja jos vierailee vain yhdellä viinitilalla, suosittelen ehdottomasti Pares Baltàa! Tämä perheyritys sijaitsee Pacs del Penedésissä, jone Barcelonasta pääsee helpoiten junalla Vilafranca del Penedésiin ja siitä taksilla. Vierailu tulee varata etukäteen ja vierailijoilta kysytään heidän aikaisemmasta viinituntemuksestaan, jotta vierailusta tulee henkilökohtainen. Tilan viinit viljellään biodynaamisesti ja aivan ensimmäiseksi vierailijoille kerrotaan tästä prosessista. Tämän jälkeen kerrotaan viininvalmistuksesta ja lopuksi maistellaan. Vieraillessamme tilalla maistelimme yhdeksää viiniä ja yhtä oliiviöljyä. Ilmankos tulimme tehneeksi myös aika paljon ostoksia vierailun päättyessä! Suosittelen ehdottomasti! www.paresbalta.com

Sitges
Toinen viehättävä paikka Barcelonan ulkopuolella on Sitgesin kaunis ja kosmopoliittinen kaupunki noin 50 minuutin junamatkan päässä Barcelonan keskustasta. Sitgesissä on pieniä putiikkeja, ravintoloita ja myös ranta. Lisäksi rantoja on myös junamatkan varrella useita, esimerkiksi Castelldefelsissä. Jos haluaa vierailla vähän erilaisessa museossa, voi käydä Sitgesin Casa Bacardíssa kuulemassa Bacardín historiasta ja valmistuksesta. Kierroksen lopuksi vieraat pääsevät myös itse tekemään ja nauttimaan rommidrinkin. Myös lapset ovat tervetulleita kierrokselle, mutta heille ei toki tarjoilla alkoholia. Sitgesin rantabulevardilla ehdottomasti vierailemisen arvoinen – jos arvostaa hyviä drinkkejä  – on Voramar. Paikan omistaja totesi minulle vaatimattomasti, että hänen pina coladansa on  galaksin paras. Ja olihan se kyllä hyvää.