flamenco: an art that speaks to the soul, and frees the emotions


We started work on this documentary about six years ago with the filming of the graceful dance of a tiny girl, four years old at the time, called la Triana. Since then, for financial reasons we have been proceeding slowly - slowly but steadily. Any time we get money, we shoot; when we don't have money, we stop shooting and start looking for money!

We have now pretty much completed principal photography. We have shot nine professional singers, three guitar soloists, two internationally touring dancers and two young up and coming dancers, plus many community performers, several informative interviews with extremely knowledgeable people, and background information about occupations (farm work, mining, fishing, etc.) that has fed this art form. We have also filmed almost all of the narration.

The performances we have shot include some of the best stars of traditional flamenco - because traditional flamenco is what interests us in this documentary: dancer Antonio el Pipa, singer-cantaor the late Manuel Agujetas (often simply called Agujetas), guitarist Diego del Morao, dancer María del Mar Moreno, singer-cantaora la Macanita, and many others including our associate director Antonio de la Malena.


In September of 2017, supported by a new grant from MAW (Media Art Works), guitarist Niño Jero el Periquín played us a lively and wonderful solo. In addition, we shot the singer/cantaora Tía Juana la del Pipa - a woman with a wonderful, rich voice and a very strong presentation. For both, we used a location in a vineyard lent to us by Bodega Gonzalez-Byass, maker of fino (and other) wine, a specialty of Jerez. ¡Olé Gonzalez Byass!

Then in the spring of 2018, we shot a great deal of the narration, as well as the performance of two young dancers, demonstrating that traditional flamenco is not a dying art. The dancers were Jairo Amaya, and la Paula - the latter only 13 years old. Both were accompanied by young singers, guitarists, and palmeros. We like youth!

In these and other scenes, we always interview the chief performers and have had our suspicions confirmed: almost all of the best flamencos in Jerez (and, we believe, in the rest of Andalucía) come from farm-working families. If they are too young to have worked in the fields themselves, their parents and grandparents did. Hard work is an important part of the traditional flamenco experience, just as the gitano community is.


In April of 2019, once again supported by a grant from the non-profit MAW (Media Art Works) supplemented as usual by the personal funds of our director, Eve A. Ma, we completed principal production - meaning we finished shooting! This included filming a pretty wonderful "fin de fiesta," a sevillanas dance (to show the difference between flamenco and southern Spanish folk dance), a cante/singing solo by Luis Moneo, and once again, Antonio de la Malena's narration (because some of what we shot earlier didn't turn out the way we wanted).

For the "fin de fiesta," Bodega Gonzalez Byass gave us a great location: their Constanza winery in their principal headquarters in Jerez de la Frontera. We shot with 10 flamenco performers (and a nine-person crew). There were three singers, three dancers, two guitarists and two palmeros. It was a very lively, and truly fun, occasion.

As before, we also shot some small scenes with actors, scenes that accompany and help interpret the singing. One that stands out in my mind is when we asked Manuel Moreno, Antonio de la Malena's youngest son, to lie down in a field at dawn. For another, I spent 18 hours traveling to a small town in Murcia (southeastern Spain) to film something that appears in the documentary for all of 10 seconds. But ok, it's a good shot and I'm glad I did it.


So what's left now? Well, post-production. That will involve a lot of work, mostly by technical people. Editing is a big part of it, but we've been editing as we go along so there will be less to do there than one might expect. However, there are also things known as sound sweetening, color correction, image correction - all those things that turn something rough around the edges into a beautiful work of film that audiences will flock to in droves.

Post-production also requires money to pay all those technicians. We have been fortunate enough to obtain very generous grants grants from MAW that solved this problem. In addition, we screened the rough draft to small, intimate audiences and received mostly positive feedback. Now, we're sending it around to festivals as a nearly-completed work-in-progress. And in addition to everything else, it's time to do lots of publicity....

Before leaving this topic entirely, I want to thank all the people that have volunteered or donated to the project, and most especially, the non-profit Media Art Works (MAW) for providing consistent encouragement and significant funding to allow us to create this documentary. Couldn't do it without you!