World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


AguaClara Flamenco

First appearance in SF EDF: 2016

AguaClara Flamenco was formed in 2011 in Oakland by dancer/choreographer/musician Clara Rodriguez, recognized as one of the leading flamenco performers of the region. Rodriguez has performed in the flamenco tablaos of Granada, Spain, the Jaipur Palace of India, in Portugal, and has been a featured soloist in productions throughout the US, including the Paramount Theater, War Memorial Opera House, Yerba Buena Center, and Palace of Fine Arts. AguaClara Flamenco presented two full-length works in 2012 and 2015 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco.


DANCE ORIGIN: Andalucía, Spain
GENRE: Flamenco
TITLE: Martinete
DANCERS: Sandra Durand, Alice Glasner, Maha Hamdan, Andrea La Canela, Claudia Barros-Morrison, Yuli Norrish, Clara Rodriguez
MUSICIANS: Marlon Aldana (cajón, djembe), Roberto Zamora (vocals)

Photo by Mark Muntean

AguaClara Flamenco presented an eloquent and fierce performance of Spanish flamenco titled Martinete. The martinete is one of the oldest, most intense song forms or palos in flamenco repertoire. It is a cante jondo, or “deep song,” from the family of unaccompanied cantes known as tonás, where haunting vocals are bare and prominent. The performance is demanding, with strong footwork, expressive marking steps, and surprising exchanges of energy and repose.

Flamenco history is shrouded in the dark years of the Spanish Inquisition. Cante jondo is often called an echo of human suffering, born and evolved in Seville’s 16th-century forges, where Sephardic, indigenous Andalusian, Moorish, and Gitano gypsy blacksmiths labored without hope. The martinete is named for the Spanish martillo—hammer—and singing is traditionally
accompanied by palmas (handclapping), stamping, and the ring of a hammer striking an anvil. The coplas—verses—are often only fragments, and many contemporary singers improvise the lyrics, honoring flamenco’s traditional freedom. The lyrics in this presentation sing of Triana, a historically Gitano neighborhood of Seville:

Ay en el barrio de Triana
No hay pluma ni tintero
para escribirle a mi mare
Que hace veinte años que no la veo.

In the neighborhood of Triana
There is no pen or ink
to write to my mother
who I have not seen in twenty years

This is a new choreography within the framework of traditional letras (verses) of martinete, and debla form of martinete, set in 2015 by Artistic Director Clara Rodriguez. The martinete was originally a song, and Antonio El Bailarin adapted it for dance in the 1950s as a masculine form. Many dancers feature it in performance, and it’s increasingly danced by women, for love of its percussive zapateado footwork. Flamenco music and dance are inseparable expressions: Clara’s choreography emphasizes the minimal and lyrical quality of
the cante and the trance-like rhythm—its effect on both dancer and audience. The somber costuming mirrors the dark symbolism and themes of cante jondo, with a feminine design.

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