Dublin Flamenco Festival

Posted June 24, 2011 in Festival Features

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

The logo of the Dublin Flamenco Festival, the first of its kind, is a flamenco dancing Molly Malone, representing Damian Power and Nathalie Moyano’s wish to combine the dance and music traditions of Ireland and Spain. The pair created Peña Flamenca El Indalo in 2009, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of flamenco in Ireland. Though they both still hold day jobs (she’s a translator, he’s a computer programmer), they have devoted all their spare time since last September to putting on Dublin’s first flamenco festival.

With the support of the Dublin City Arts Council, the duo have not only booked some of the most prestigious flamenco dancers and musicians to perform, but have also put together an impressive set of workshops for dance, guitar, and, after many requests, rhythm and clapping. A series of talks will also take place in the Liffey Trust Centre (to which all admission is free), and the Green Room next door will host informal Sevillanas classes. On top of all this, there will be a photo exhibition, curated by Olivier Cornet. Nathalie and Damian hope to raise some capital by selling prints signed by the dancers pictured.

The pair remark on how much they’ve been helped by the Dublin Dance Festival. Part of the difficulty in organising the set of events was arranging a time when they would not collide with the DDF, at risk of dividing dance fans. The Instituto de Flaminca en Andalucia also funds the group, alongside the major support of contacts made at different dance festivals Nathalie and Damian attended.

The networking that Damian and Nathalie did in Spain is one of the reasons so many top performers have been booked. They organised the performance of dancer Concha Jareño at the Button Factory in 2009, remarking upon the lack of division between teachers and performers. This is a quality that Damian and Nathalie wish to evoke in their own festival, in which many of the dancers will be holding classes as well as performing.

Though Nathalie never did any dancing while living in her hometown, Andalucia, her father sung flamenco. She only started learning while living in Dublin – her first class was on Francis Street.

The last four years have been very intensive for Nathalie. After receiving a grant from the Arts Council, she studied at the flamenco Festival de Ferez in Jerez de la Frontera for two weeks, taking gruelling classes, each almost three hours long.

Damian had always been passionate about guitar, getting into flamenco guitar early on. Years ago, he took a group of musicians to a flamenco show on Vicar Street and, though they were prepared to look down on the performance, it mesmerized them. With Nathalie’s encouragement, Damian began taking flamenco classes, going on to study with dancer Maria del Mar Moreno, an incredibly inspirational figure for Damian. Now, it seems he can only find time for dancing. “It’s less demanding”, he explains. “With guitar, you need to dedicate at least an hour of each day to that pursuit. But flamenco dancing is something you can do once a week. There’s just more freedom”.

Damian speaks fervently about the subtleties within flamenco guitar, explaining the transition from the strong rhythms of traditional flamenco guitar to the more melodic, modern interpretations. Damian was very into blues and folk as a teenager, he mentions seeing Australian guitarist Jeff Lang at Vicar Street in late 1990s.

After immersing himself in flamenco music and dance, Damian felt it much more compelling than any Irish dance he had encountered, through the way in which its raw emotion and power tied into the gender identities of the performers. “With Irish dance, there are not distinct male and female ‘roles’. Flamenco dancers take on very masculine or very feminine identities. It creates more excitement”.

The festival starts July 23rd and runs until the 31st, listings for all events are available on their website, www.flamencoindalo.com.

Words: Zoe Jellicoe



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