I have long been fascinated by Spain and its people. A couple of years ago I travelled to Barcelona and experienced some of that Spanish culture for myself. It was a delight to dip my colonial Australian toes into a culture so rich and varied. And Spanish wine is good…
So it was with some eagerness I phoned Amaya, the dancer with Inside Spain - a show about Spain and its culture that comes to Lismore on Saturday, September 22.
But there was a hitch…
"I speak English very badly," Amaya told me at the start of our conversation. Oh dear. Bad news for an interview. And my Spanish is non-existent. Okay, I can say "hello" and "Can I have another one of those?" but that wasn't going to help the interview. But hey, I had plenty of time and her voice sounded friendly despite the heavy accent and Telstra connection.
"Spain is not just tapas and flamenco," Amaya said. "In the show we would like to express that Spain is more than the stereotypes that the people think of."
Inside Spain exposes the true culture of Spain by exploring its history through its music and literature. The show showcases the guitar skills of Damian Wright, Australia's foremost exponent of flamenco guitar, the authentic voice of David Rodriguez, a Spaniard who tours the world as a flamenco singer and who has the perfect voice for reciting Federico García Lorca's poetry, and a band that includes piano, cello and trumpet. And there's Amaya, the show's dancer, of course, who has stomped her feet on stages all around the world.
"Yes, I do a lot of travelling," Amaya said. "All over. United States, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Japan."
"Japan?" One doesn't think of Japan as a hub of flamenco.
"Oh yes," Amaya said. "The Japanese love flamenco - I find the highest level of dancers in Japan."
Amaya started dancing at the age of 11, learning flamenco in her village of Vallacas near Madrid.
"I studied theatre too," she said. "In Madrid I am an actress and a theatre teacher."
Flamenco dancing is a very powerful expression. It involves delicate and graceful hand and arm movements, sinewy body twists and some serious foot stomping. All in shoes with high heels. Had Amaya ever fallen during a performance?
"No," she replied, a horrifed tone breaking through the accent. "Flamenco shoes are very comfortable. They are handmade. I never fall."
Inside Spain, which makes its international debut in Lismore, is basically a theatrical narrative using dance, music, projected images and literature to expose the essence of Spain.
Inside Spain investigates the impacts that religion, war, dicatorships and even mining has had on Spanish culture. The long and often tumultuous history of Spain is revealed in a way that increases the audience's understanding of the Spanish way. It goes way beyond the flamenco and tapas stereotypes. And it's done with the very best of flamenco music and dance.
"Spain has music for every part of its history," Amaya said.
Inside Spain is on at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore on Saturday, September 22, at 8pm.
Tickets are $28/23 from the Theatre shop in Star Court Arcade or from www.starcourttheatre
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