Plaza de Toros de Sevilla! It was a cool, windy evening and sand from the bullring occasionally swirled around, mingling with smoke piped from the stage during Joaquin Cortes´s powerful performance of Mi Soledad. His grandmother, well over the age of 90, was walking on her own, as she was escorted through the Entrance Principal.
I arrived at the bullring at 9:20 for a 10 p.m. performance, expecting the procedure would be similar to attending a performance in Paris: standing in line outdoors, having bags searched, before finally being allowed into the theatre. Instead, I was whisked in and escorted to my seat - no waiting in line.
While taking photographs of the bullring and stage, two "teens" seated behind me started saying "Hello, Thank you very much!" They were very entertaining in their attempts to speak English - which was still superior to my Spanish. When they asked if I would take their photo, I was delighted. Manuela (right) is only 12, while his friend Diandrina is 13. While trying to find a pen to write their names, I stopped an elegantly-suited man walking past. Turns out he was the manager of the bullring and sat down and chatted with me.
Two Spanish women who appeared to be mother and daughter were seated on my left. The 30-something "daughter" was elegantly dressed in black trousers, a simple silk top, discreet jewelry and stylish flats. The "mother," 60+, was too tanned, wearing a fake-cheetah mini skirt, a low-cut lyrca top, four-inch heels, flashy jewelry, lots of makeup and her short hair coloured in at least four shades of blonde and red. She never once acknowledged my presence. But at one point during Joaquin Cortes´s performance, he descended from the stage and the woman jumped up and ran after him, trying to get his photo. She returned to her seat, swooning like a star-struck teenager.
The seat to my immediate right was empty. A woman seated at the end of the row overhead me speaking English and asked if she could move to that seat, if the ticket-holder didn´t show. Turns out she was from Tucson and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in town with some friends for the Biennale: two weeks of flamenco performances at various venues. She was also taking flamenco lessons while here. It was fun comparing notes with a fellow American.
I got some photos of Cortes´s performance, but need to wait until I´m in Paris and try to edit the lighting, before posting. And what a performance it was! Without a doubt, Joaquin Cortes is the most confident performer I´ve ever seen. His talent is immense and he knows it. His expert dancing was accompanied by an astonishing ensemble of musicians, including an accordion player, two guitarists, two bongo players and several magnificent singers. The evening was magical. At one point, Cortes talked to the audience about the importance of continuing the tradition of flamenco in Seville and in Andalucia (at least I think that´s what he said). And at the end of his spectacular performance, he was carried on the shoulders of the cheering crowd out into the street!
Flamenco´s influence is everywhere in Seville - in the style of dress, the form of music and the vibrant nightlife. Late Sunday night, someone in the building next door to the hotel started practicing the footwork of flamenco, sans music. At the same time, outside my window, someone else was strumming the guitar. No one ever tells anyone to be quiet in this lively city, no matter what the hour! I´m beginning to think that´s part of Seville´s charm.