On Saturday we performed a 4 piece flamenco show in a small theatre in Kent, it was a tiny venue but with a lovely stage that had fantastic resonance, with each piece of taconeo (footwork) clear and crisp. The audience were so raw and appreciative, there was no quiet reverence, they cheered and whooped with every subida (speeding up footwork) and even gave us some Olé’s! They were very earthy and the more they gave to us, the more energy and emotion we had to give back. Maybe it was because there was no pomp or formality about the venue (we had to walk through the audience to reach the stage) and hopefully the way we all communicated through Flamenco that gave the night so much atmosphere but it was wonderful.
I know it’s hard for British audiences to know how to behave and react at a flamenco show, those who are used to theatre performances may be more accustomed to recitals and theatre where the correct form is to remain quiet until the end of each piece. However, if you are moved by flamenco: a gesture of the dancer, a falseta of the guitarist or the emotive expression of the singer , then an Olé is never out of place, even with an English accent! I challenge you all to be brave, even if it’s quiet at first, we will feel what you are giving us back and our performance will be the richer for it. Of course, there is a proper form also for Flamenco audiences and the jaleo (encouragement) should never sound like a football chant but personally, I have never been offended by audiences in the UK if I sense their appreciation is genuine and heartfelt, whether it’s with a cheer a whistle or an ‘excelente!’