2020 is nearly over. This year has been a long period of hibernation for me – from writing.
As for artists and the outside world generally – Covid -19 struck. The world stopped. The rest is known to all.
I chose to write now after a silence of almost a whole year because I am inspired to.
To see a lone and strong ‘do not say die‘ artist and dancer Annalouise Paul battling this pandemic on the Verandah of The Drill Hall Rushcutters Bay NSW was something I could not let pass.
Perhaps it is the Sephardi blood running through her veins or perhaps just an urge, a need to dance Flamenco – on the verandah she found a Home during Covid.
She could practice in the open air on a wooden surface when all rehearsing spaces around Sydney were compulsorily closed for Covid.
The Drill Hall, the home of Critical Path, where many a dance research residency is booked through the year was unusually silent.
That this untoward and completely unbelievable practice session on the verandah, born out of Covid desperation, would attract locals passing by was not surprising. Curious passers by of all ages stopped mesmerised as Annalouise Paul swirled, tapped, clapped and stomped on the Verandah – yes I say it with a Capital V and Y not !
What started as a simple escape from indoors to an outdoor practice session soon developed into a full fledged performance Flamenco forever – For Everybody. So when a carefully numbered socially distanced audience was welcomed to experience the joy of Flamenco in all its energetic foot tapping fury – it was unpassable.
Along with a few of my friends I found myself at the Drill Hall experiencing one of my first live post covid performance, as the smell of rain outside enveloped us and we sat dutifully distanced with disinfected hands and minds …
Annalouise was accompanied today by eminent experienced artists such as Rafael Alcolea, a fine vocalist with as gutsy a temperament as a powerful voice. It reverberated against the wooden walls of the old Drill Hall and bounced back awakening us to a call to rise and lifted our spirits.
Robbie Varga on the Spanish guitar was fine touch that jazzed up the vocals followed by the soft touches of the Hang played by Byron Mark.
It was a delight to see Rafael and Robbie together again. It took me back to 1980’s and ‘Flamenco Dreaming – when I performed with this team to full houses at the Spanish Club in collaboration with Late Pandit Ashok Roy, Sarodiya and my guru. Anyway I digress ..
The evening progressed with performances by each of the artists together in different combinations, interspersed with fiesty rebellious cante (songs) and bailes (dance) set to coplas or verses so typical of Flamenco and Annalouise Paul looking her very best sensual strong and defiant. Annalouise reached the pinnacle for the evening in her Bulerias.
One of the pieces Annalouise showed her choreographic genius in incorporating some comic light relief with the sway of her hips and teasing looks and smiles yet staying true to the rhythm of twelve beats measured taps by her feet.
A thrilling performance and a much needed one …. makes for a resounding end to 2020, sending hope and positivity to all, Flamenco For Everybody welcomed audiences to rise from their chairs and show their own skills to to a clapping inspired audience.
As I walked out of The Drill Hall after the performance, rain abated, I looked at the empty Verandah I passed. I thought an artist who seeks shall always find !