Alba Flamenca

If you missed this show all is not lost. Alba Flamenca is present in one form or another all year round in Edinburgh, so even in the depths of winter you can immerse yourself in the heat of an Andalucian evening. Tucked away in East Crosscauseway Street with an attached tapas bar and restaurant, the building hosts shows and offers classes at all levels.

Edinburgh is truly fortunate to have such authentic entertainment.

The event caters for casual tourists and aficionados alike. What makes it special is the neighbourly, family atmosphere. I was in Andalucia recently and saw the grand theatre spectaculars advertised, but with local people I found backstreet bars where performers came not just to entertain but to practise and share their culture. In this region Flamenco is life with all its high and lows, suffering and joy, pain and pleasure. It is in the blood. Children are born into it. In the squares during festivals they will all dance it. Some spend a lifetime studying and perfecting it. This same devotion to the art, pride and passion is what permeates the air at Alba Flamenca and generates a feeling of being a honoured guest at family fiesta.

The venue is intimate with dancers, singers and musicians in close proximity to the audience. The sharing is informal. As one dancer is on her feet the others sit behind never taking their eyes off her. They utter traditional interjections of support and admiration while clapping complex beats. In Flamenco the whole body dances and all parts become vehicles of expression. The dress swirls and is hitched up, the feet furiously stamp out the steps, the hands begin to speak, the torso twists and the face turns sharply from one fixed stare to another. As she rests the singer commences the extraordinary incantations of the regional music. Often these are laments in which the unique timbres and microtones of the melodies evoke tearful responses. Then there is the cajon drum that beats out another message and above all the guitar, at one moment creating a scene of blissful tranquility only to be followed by a furiously brittle, percussive outburst.

The scene could be anywhere in Seville, Cordoba, or Malaga where families gather to celebrate their traditions and embrace their history. To fully understand and appreciate all the finer points of flamenco, what to look and listen for would probably require growing up their. Fortunately it is also possible to just sit back and enjoy it. Those involved in devising and performing Alba Flamenca should be proud of this wonderfully uplifting experience. Edinburgh is truly fortunate to have such authentic entertainment.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Aspiring to make Flamenco accessible, Alba Flamenco is Edinburgh’s own but somewhat hidden Peña. It has brought top quality Flamenco to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for over 10 years. ‘The performance is intimate and inclusive and the performers warm and welcoming. The singing in particular is excellent and the dancers spontaneous, passionate and exciting to watch. The performers have the audience immediately in their thrall, and the show seems to end far too quickly. The intimate venue only serves to enhance the immediacy of the performance – absolutely nothing in the way between performer and audience.’ ***** (