Rajasthan has fast become India’s new festival destination, and so we were really excited to finally experience one. We recently attended a three-day music festival in Jodhpur, but unlike most other festivals in the state, it didn’t involve electronic music or desert stomping. Just plain soulful strums, shouts of ole, rhythmic footwork, intense sarangi plucks, percussion and much more. Sounds like flamenco with a twist, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what we were treated to from March 13-15 at the Jodhpur Flamenco & Gypsy Festival. The confluence of flamenco and North Indian folk music got us thinking about how perfect this kind of music would be for an Indian wedding.
Every evening the gorgeous and exceptionally well maintained Mehrangarh Fort, high above the blue city, came alive thanks to the fabulous musicians. Flamenco guitarists Pepe Habichuela, Agustin “El Bola” Carbonel and Jose Carmone performed solo, and at times, with other musicians including the famed Latin jazz pianist Chano Dominguez. Keeping good time with these ‘gypsy’ musicians were India’s very own gypsies – Rajasthani Langa musicians like Abdul Rashid Khan, Sikandar Khan, Sadiq Khan and Japu Khan, among others. The claps of the kartal, the plucks of the morachang and the hum and cry of the sarangi, backed by the rhythmic percussion of the tabla made for a seamless blend with Spain’s traditional flamenco music form.
The vibrancy that filled the fort had us enthralled and we couldn’t wait to share it with you. The energy of these musicians was almost tangible. And it is understandable, for both the Spanish and Rajasthani musicians seem to play from a place they are both familiar with — a musical legacy passed down across generations. Interestingly, the footprints of the gypsies across the world, including the Gitanos from Spain and the Manouch from France, can be traced back to India!
While there are no historical accounts of their migration patterns, studies have thrown light on the similarities between gypsies in different parts of the world. For one, they share similar words, most of which have Indian origins. Then there’s evidence of their music composition styles and dance forms — both are strikingly similar.
Also exceedingly entertaining were Spanish flamenco dancers Tamar Gonzalez and Karen Lugo. Their artistic interpretations of the music through intricate footwork, rigid arm movements and claps made for an unforgettable experience. And just like that, Asha Sapera, a Kalbelia dancer from North India swirled in, commanding every festivalgoer’s attention with her sinuous hip sways and fluid movements.
It was amazing to have later learnt that the musicians and dancers from Spain and India had rehearsed only a few days prior to the festival. It was a pure confluence of cultures that highlighted artistic traditions passed down over generations.
We loved Indialucia, a collective of musicians from Spain and India, who do what they best do — present a seamless fusion of flamenco and Indian music. How amazing a performance it was with Miguel Czachowski on flamenco guitar, Avaneedra Sheolikar on sitar and Sandesh Popatkar on tabla. We also loved the after-parties driven by electronic beats that were interspersed with flamenco and Latin grooves and taken up a notch by a Langa musician on the kartal. Just the kind of fusion music that we think would make a brilliant match for a post-wedding, sangeet or mehndi party!
Author : Beverly Pereira
A writer who lives to discover, Beverly can be found enjoying a good meal or a song when she’s not writing. The process of painting, ideating and reading inevitably inspires her to write some more.