By Mudassir Raja
The Spanish community in Qatar was recently enthralled by flamenco dance performance by a visiting troupe at Katara’s opera house that was packed to capacity as the audience remained glued to their seats till the end of the show.
The gathering also included members of the diplomatic community and people from different expatriate communities, who keenly enjoyed the classical folk dance performance by the internationally acclaimed group that comprised of four artistes. The event was organised by the Embassy of Spain in collaboration with Katara.
The performance titled Flamenco Dance – Las Pequeñas Cosas was led by Ursula López, the dancer. She was accompanied by Jover Patino, guitarist; Gema Caballero, vocalist; and Raúl Domínguez Soto, percussionist. The show happened to be a pre-event to the Spanish national day that is celebrated in Qatar yesterday.
The dancer presented different performances, each distinct and exciting and enthralled the gathering with her fast and calculated steps and Spanish folk music. At the end of every performance the opera house echoed with the intense clapping of the audience showing their interest and appreciation for the performer.
Flamenco – in its strictest sense – is a professionalised art-form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia. In a wider sense, the term refers to a variety of Spanish musical styles developed as early as the 19th century. The oldest record of flamenco dates to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso. Flamenco has been influenced by and associated with the Romani people in Spain; however, its origin and style are uniquely Andalusian.
As for the dancer Ursula, she was born in Montilla (Córdoba). She began her academic formation at a very young age, graduating both in classical Spanish dance and ballet and soon travelled to Seville to pursue her studies in the discipline of flamenco.
In 1996, she became a member of the Compañía Andaluza de Danza, where she remained for eight years. She participated as a soloist in all the performances, travelling through the world´s main festivals and theatres.
In her opening remarks, Belén Alfaro, Ambassador of Spain to Qatar, said that flamenco comes with very rich history of collection of artistic world of Spain. She said that they had many cities in Spain with very old and traditional architectures.
“I hope this event will help to strengthen relations between Qatar and Spain culturally. Flamenco is a very important part of Spanish culture. It is also believed that the dance has some kind of Arabic influence. It was also recognised as World’s Heritage Treasure in 2010. I extend my special thanks to Katara for making the event possible.”
Talking to Community after the event the ambassador said: “I am very happy to have the cultural event at Katara. As I said in my opening speech, flamenco is an important part of Spanish culture. Spain has a long history of relations with the Arab world. There are many cities in Spain with Arabic architecture. There are also many marks of these relations in Spanish culture and language. Such kind of cultural events will foster great cultural relations with Qatar.”
She added: “Though, we did not publie much about the event, the opera hall was full to its capacity. I am happy to see the overwhelming and enthusiastic response.”
Jose Vicente, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Spain to Qatar, said: “It was a fantastic performance. It was pre-opening of our national day. It really was amazing. It is mixture of traditional dancer, singers, and songs with modern style which has made the show great.
“I know this group. It is very famous all over Europe and even has staged performances in some South American countries. They have a reputation. It is linking our culture with Arab culture. We are very happy to introduce them to Qatar. As far as I know, this is the first visit of the group to the Middle East.”
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