Jerez: What to See, Plus the Best Music, Hotels, Restaurants and Tapas Bars Reply

Jerez Flamenco Festival

Guardian.com–Spain’s gastronomic maridaje – the marriage of food and wine – is a definite threesome in Jerez de la Frontera, where all life is fuelled by sherry and tapas, but marches to a flamenco beat. The annual flamenco festival is its peak – not only for larger ticketed events, but also for free performances in thepeñas (social clubs), tabancos (old-style bars), and late at night in the plazas. In fact, all the city’s many festivals and ferias are accompanied by a flurry of flamenco activity – it’s just that, rather frustratingly, it’s not easy to sweep in and locate it.

Several of the tabancos actually have regular, scheduled events (and flyers for one-offs elsewhere). Best-known, and popular with locals and tourists, is Tabanco el Pasaje (C/Santa María 8) where guitarist and singer face the cramped bustle from Thursdays to Sundays. Another good option is Tabanco el Guitarrón de San Pedro (C/Bizcocheros 16) with performances on Saturday afternoons, participation flamenco on Sunday nights and, amazingly given the tight space, a cadre (guitars, singing and dancing) on Thursday nights.

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Heeren Foundation Seville: Creating Spain’s Next Flamenco Stars Reply

Heeren Foundation flamenco

Seville, Spain (CNN.com)–The air in the small basement room is thick with perspiration as seven young women stamp their feet in the same complicated rhythm again and again, still not getting it quite right. Their hard heels relentlessly strike the wooden floor, throwing up a deafening clatter as they’re pushed to perfection, or almost to the breaking point. The next room, just as sweaty, is filled with another wall of sound, this one created by a platoon of guitarists. Their synchronized strumming intensifies as numbed fingers fly over frets and strings, struggling to match a tempo that keeps getting faster and faster.

And at the end of the corridor, in another smaller room, seated around a twirling dancer, a group claps its hands in time to a mysterious beat. Their formidable instructor regularly halts the class to chide her pupils over seemingly minor imperfections. These are everyday scenes at the Heeren Flamenco Foundation (Avenida de Jerez, 2, Seville, Spain; +34 954 21 70 58), a cheerful blue-walled institution currently housed in the shadow of a soccer stadium on the southern fringes of the Spanish city of Seville. Heeren specializes in schooling singers, guitarists and dancers in the technical skills needed to perform the art that has come to symbolize Seville and the surrounding region of Andalusia. It’s no shock to find that it takes hard work to reach the high standards expected by flamenco audiences in Spain and around the world. What is a surprise though is the number of non-Spanish students hoping to reach this level.

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The Top 10 Cultural Holidays in Spain Reply

Cantabrian caves Spain

Telegraph.co.uk–Our experts’ pick of the top 10 cultural holidays in Spain for 2015, including the Dalí Triangle, the Chopin music festival and the best cultural activities for families, in destinations such as Madrid, Costa Brava, Majorca and Malaga

1. Cantabria’s prehistoric caves

It’s been a huge year for Cantabria’s prehistoric, World Heritage-listed Altamira Cave. For the first time since 2002, the original cavern (rather than the replica) has been opened up to five randomly selected ticket holders each week, making it an exceptionally exciting time to visit. But it pays to dig deeper into Cantabria’s lesser-known caves, which is easily done with the independent Caminos by Casas Cantabricas “Short Break Cantabria” itinerary. Its cave-focused option also covers El Castillo (for the world’s oldest cave art) and the eerie Eastern Caves in Ramales. From £240pp for four nights’ b & b, including car hire, Altamira tickets and app guides to the area. Flights not included (01223 328721; caminos.co.uk). Isabella Noble

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Cheering the Art of the Dance in ‘Flamenco, Flamenco’ Reply

Saura Flamenco Flamenco

Boston Globe.com–Two “Flamencos” are better than one. “Flamenco,” octogenarian Spanish director Carlos Saura’s 1995 celebration of the musical genre that has long been his obsession, presents an eclectic bill of dancers, singers, and instrumentalists in an unadorned format. It is a delight for flamenco fans and provides a fascinating introduction for those unfamiliar with the music. But as cinema, despite the lush cinematography of Vittorio Storaro, it is lacking.

Not so 2010’s “Flamenco, Flamenco,” which more than doubles the artistry of the first film. With a conceptual structure as inventive as that of Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense” and a use of theatrical effects and staging as ingenious as that in the films of Hans Jürgen Syberberg, the newer film combines images (again photographed by Storaro), sound, editing, and a poetic narrative of sorts to integrate the power of film with the seductive passion of the music.

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Bobby McFerrin & Chick Corea Duet – Spain Reply

McFarrin Corea Spain

If you love Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea, this is your opportunity to see–and hear–them together in a singularly creative version of Corea’s 1971 instrumental jazz-fusion composition, Spain. This is probably Corea’s most prominent piece, and some would consider it a modern jazz standard.

Spain appeared in its original (and most well-known) rendition on the album Light as a Feather, with performances by Corea (Rhodes electric piano), Airto Moreira (drums), Flora Purim (vocals and percussion), Stanley Clarke (bass), and Joe Farrell (flute). It has been recorded in several versions, by Corea himself as well as by other artists, including a flamenco version by Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin in the 1980s.

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“Vengo,” Spanish Gypsy Flamenco Film Reply

Tony Gatlif's "Vengo"

We’ve already published an extract from this passionate French film shot in Spanish about a Gypsy blood feud, but we suspect you may enjoy seeing the complete version. Antonio Canales, one of Spain’s great flamenco dancers, plays Caco, a Gypsy patriarch who runs  a whorehouse (“lupanar” in Spanish, “fox den”). Destroyed by the death of his daughter he drowns his sorrow in alcohol and bacchanalia against a backdrop of blood and revenge. The film  pays homage to the Gypsies of Spain’s south, with lots of great flamenco guitar, song, and particularly dance.

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Pique & Friends Adorn Shakira’s World Cup Video Reply

Shakira World Cup

Maybe you don’t like fútbol, but what’s not to like about Shakira? And the proceeds of this video go to charity.

Danielle Joynson writes for Sports Mole.co.uk–Colombian popstar Shakira has released her own song for the World Cup in Brazil, which features her boyfriend and Spain star Gerard Pique. The singer released an anthem for the 2010 tournament, but has followed it up with ‘La La La (Brazil 2014)’ ahead of the competition, which gets underway on June 12. As well as cameo appearances from Pique and the couple’s son Milan in the music video, the Spanish defender’s Barcelona teammates Lionel MessiCesc Fabregas and Neymar also feature. Sergio AgueroEric Abidal and Radamel Falcao also joined in with the music video.

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Loreena McKennitt — Nights from the Alhambra Reply

Loreena_McKennitt_Alhambra

Posted on YouTube by Angel Volandoconalas (“Angel Flying with Wings”) This is a concert by an evocative artist set in the Palace of Charles V on the grounds of the Alhambra in Granada. Loreena McKennitt seems ideally suited to present her art and sensitivity on summer nights in the Alhambra.

The production is executed with deceptively simple stagecraft, consummate musicianship with an exceptional selection of instruments, including an electric violin and cello as well as the singer herself on harp and accordian.  McKinnitt’s original compositions skillfully mix Celtic and Mediterranean roots in the creation of this understated masterpiece of a concert, a benchmark of musical purity and humility.

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Paco de Lucía, The Death of a Spanish National Monument 1

Paco de Lucia

February 27, 2014–Paco de Lucía’s sudden death yesterday struck Spain like a hammer blow. Francisco Sánchez Gómez, the world’s greatest flamenco guitarist, was a Spanish national monument like the Escorial or the Alhambra. He wasn’t set in the landscape, however, rather in people’s hearts. He was their “Paco,” and he connected to them through his prodigious musical skills as a performing artist and composer, as well as his sweet, self-effacing character. Paco was a “caballero,” a Spanish gentleman.

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Spanish Gypsies, Guitars, Song and Dance = Flamenco Reply

Gypsy flamenco juerga

La guitarra, el cante y el baile–Flamenco is the essential Gypsy art, and this curious little video gives us some insight into its essence–on both ends of the emotional scale. Bailaor flamenco, Antonio Canales, is the most recognizable face in this not-quite-four-minute video and, though he doesn’t dance, he steals the show with a sincere display of the emotional underpinnings of his art. Perhaps this video will give you some insight into the reasons that flamenco has become an international phenomenon in recent years. There are more flamenco academies in Japan than in Spain.

P.S. This is one of our favorite videos. You will be moved by it. More…