JUAN ANTONIO DE LOS REYES FLAMENCO AMBASSADOR
BY ANTONIO PINEDA
The flamenco odyssey has traveled overland and by sea for over a thousand years to Iberian shores.The gypsies originated from India, and their exodus via Eastern Europe and the Meditteranean, culminated in its evolution when Andalusia was the center of Moorish-Arabic culture. It was highly evolved, bringing poetry and the chanson, architechture, medicine and mathematics to Andalucia.El Cid and the indiginous Spaniards may have finally expulsed the Moors from their rule of Andalucia, but the influence on the culture of the Iberian peninsula was forevermore altered by the infusion of all the aforementioned. Flamenco was the ultimate beneficiary.
Juan Antonio De Los Reyes introduced me to the flamenco odyssey when we met, back in the day in Madrid, at the dance studios, known as El Amor De Dios. Very important dance teachers like Maria Madalena and Antonio Marin plied their trade there.Ciro, who once owned flamenco clubs on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, and in San Francisco, also imparted his knowledge.Antonio Del Castillo and Raul, also were rising stars who taught there. Raul was famous for his fast and flashy footwork.
Madrid and Andalusia introduced an era when Flamenco fused with many confluences, especially from North Africa. The zambra is danced with finger cymbals. Its roots are in North Africa. A fusion of the dumbeki, or arabic drum shaped like a toadstool, was integrated into flamenco with chords often alluded to on the oud. A mixture of Arabic and Spanish dance and chanson became popular among the young and adventerous, as Iberians returned to explore cultural and genetic roota.
If Madrid was the merger between the classical ballet and flamenco, the heart and soul of flamenco was to be found in Andalusia. Sevilla and Moron de la Frontera were renowned for the devotion to authenticity, passion, and tradition revered by lovers of the gypsy genre and lore. Juan Antonio De Los Reyes is continuing his long odyssey, with his own brand of fusion of all these influences and elements, bringing his 16 strong troupe of dancers, singers and guitarists to Greece.
The flamenco spectacular he is bringing to Thessalonika, is inspired by the rendering of the great Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, as a tango. Verde que te quiero verde, is one of his great poems. It has been covered by the Gypsy Kings and Manzanita, and is often sung to rumba.Tango comes from the Latin , tanhere, and implies to touch.Tangos originate from Malaga and Extremadura, and celebrate the joy and passion of flamenco.
The farruca origins are from Galicia and Asturias. It is sung in Galician., and often accompanied with the gaita, or Spanish bagpipe as well . Farruca is a virile , macho dance. The immortal gypsy artist Carmen Amaya danced farruca dressed in the masculine attire of the tradition, in effect breaking tradition and establishing new ground. I studied with her cousin Sandro Amaya, at the Dance Centre in Covent Garden back in the day in London.
The guajira recalls the Spanish colonial times in Cuba.The longing for Iberia, and the Cuban influence on flamenco is hereby expressed.Allegrias are derived from medieval songs, and are also referred to as cantillas.Its origins are in the gypsy culture of Andalusia and the medieval songs of Galicia.
The tablao flamenco is a highlight of the show.The presentation is performed on a wooden floor.The program may include tangos and rumbas, allegrias and bulerias, one of the most beloved gypsy dances, the syncopated rythmns of bulerias are a celebration and a joy.Rage, sensations of anger, blood and inspiration are inspired by seguirilla, as night falls, it is impossible to sleep, and the artist must express duende, or soul.Flamenco is not for the Philistine. Juan Antonio De Los Reyes will honour Greece as the cradle of Western civilization, as the flamenco odyssey returns to the roots of its origins and philosophy.
Just as brave Odysseus traveled round the world before his return to Greece and his wife Penelope, the adventure and romance of flamenco has sailed around the planet. These conquistadores come in peace, bringing the love, passion and historicity of this beautiful and singular art form in a pure expression of democracy.Flamencologists world wide understand the influence and divinity that flow and sing in the bloodlines of the flamenco tradition. Like the matador, the flamenco artist is rooted to the earth, its centre is low to the ground, it smells of virgin olive oil and red wine, and reeks of blood and sand.Juan Antonio and his flamenco ballet will bring all these elements to the Grecian night, where the minotaur and centuar sing and dance amidst the phallic ruins, and the philosophy espoused by Plato and Aristotle reign supreme. Viva Flamenco.