Flamenco in my own backyard

Ian Sinclair, Krasna Ristori, Steve Cournane in the Tasca restaurant

I’ve long been a fan of dance, learning ballet as a child, possessing a dancer’s heart, but little natural ability. However, the desire to dance never left me, and as a thirty-something adult I returned to ballet. I began to feel my body move with more agility and learnt how to use it. Yeah! Around the same time, I noticed flamenco dance classes advertised and joined up. I came to love the dance with passion. Having a guitarist certainly helped the atmosphere, as we learned to arch our backs and move to the specific beats for hands and feet. I so enjoyed the sound of the dance and the stamping of feet. It was another twenty years before I visited Spain, and while in Madrid I got to see my first ‘authentic’ performance, taking place in Corral de la Morería, a cafe famous for its flamenco shows. I have continued to love the dance, the callers, the guitar and its passion. I have often idly wondered whether I might have some Spanish blood. 

A year or so back there was a flamenco performance in the city and I attended with my husband. The dancer Isabel Rivera Cuenca and her troupe from Barcelona were performing with local guitarist, Ian Sinclair, who had been a well-known journalist. He says in a North and South magazine article that “Funnily enough it was flamenco that led me into journalism… With the encouragement of my family I’d played this very exciting style of Spanish music since I was a child. In fact it was because of that I got my first break as a reporter when I was asked to interview a band of gipsies now known as the Gipsy Kings.” How pleased we were that Ian decided on the Spanish guitar as a new career. His playing is superb.

Flyer for flamenco at Tasca Café, Restaurant and Tapas Bar

When I saw that he was performing last Saturday in an Auckland cafe, I booked two tickets immediately. We’d not visited Tasca restaurant in Newmarket before, so set off early, by ferry and bus. We were so early in fact, we were served our first tapas before anyone else. And so nice they were. Smoky eggplant dip with grilled tomato bread, and albondigas, which are Spanish meatballs with pomegranate and walnut muhammara dip.

With a glass of cava finished, and no show for a while, we set off for a short walk, returning as the other other patrons were filling the seats. All the food proved delicious, and included quesadilla, bombas de patatas, sarma sushi, seafood paella, rocket salad, and the ubiquitous Spanish dessert – churros con chocolate. All this while the dancer swirled, hands clapping, feet stamping, to the percussionist’s rhythms and Ian playing guitar. I so wished I could have got up and danced.

Krasna Ristori and Ian Sinclair

I loved the evening – perfect really. And, although I adore the ambience of Spain, last Saturday night I thought the flamenco experience in my own backyard shaped up in every way.

For a little more on Ian Sinclair see here.

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