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withinity

 

Posts: 180
Joined: Sep. 17 2013
 

Elitism in the world of Flamenco 

It's a real thing no?

The Spanish have huge egos in General and so do the Gitanos especially towards Flamenco. (even rumba)

Ah I guess If you took so much time into cultivating such a high level it only natural to feel proud.

Still at times I get so caught up in the Guitar/Flamenco stuff that I loose touch with other elements of myself/life, tending to forget your musical ability does not dictate your worth as a person.

Can anyone relate , have anything to comment ?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 14:58:07
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2794
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

quote:

The Spanish have huge egos in General and so do the Gitanos especially towards Flamenco. (even rumba)


Properly defined, there is nothing wrong with "Elitism." It is not a matter of what you are born into, or how much money your family has, or what clubs you belong to. Nor does it have anything to do with (the Spanish, Gitanos, or anyone else) having huge egos. Elitism is the sense of having truly accomplished something that took effort. It is the sense of having mastered a skill and obtained knowledge that is leagues ahead of and beyond that of the average person.

One of my favorite writers is the late art and cultural critic Robert Hughes. I quote Hughes below on the subject.

"I am completely an elitist, in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense. I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness. I love the spectacle of skill, whether it is an expert gardener at work, or a good carpenter chopping dovetails. I don't think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones. I would rather watch a great tennis player than a mediocre one.

"Consequently, most of the human race doesn't matter much to me, outside the normal and necessary frame of courtesy and the obligation to respect human rights. I see no reason to squirm around apologizing for this. I am, after all, a cultural critic, and my main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate."

That is as good a definition of "Elitism" as I have come across, and it applies to flamenco as well as anything else that requires effort to master rather than just reach the level of the second-rate.

Bill

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With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 16:15:14

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

quote:

tending to forget your musical ability does not dictate your worth as a person.


well yeah, definitely do not forget that!

Paco Cepero described how harsh his "teachers" were with him when he was beginning in Jerez, oftentimes bringing him to tears. In hindsight he saw it as a sign that they cared and really wanted him to learn. My feeling is that the younger generations are less harsh. Whether that's a oood thing, I don't know.
In a way, it's like the school system I went through in France. The philosophy there was to "deconstruct so as to better re-build" the child. So it's pretty rough on the children, you get smacked around quite a bit. I remember getting assignments back where I had got 18/20 (graded out of 20 points in France) but there were no mistakes anywhere. When I asked the teacher why I hadn't got 20/20, he would say: "because perfection doesn't exist". You really just couldn't win! It's pretty far from the contemporary idea of education you hear from some countries where you basically have to always be positive, not grade the child at all or reward him even if his work was sub-par. I suppose there are advantages and drawbacks to both approaches.

Then there is also the very opinionated discussions on what is actually flamenco, with some pretty harsh judgements on certain artists. I think that has more to do with the desire to uphold a certain tradition and the fear, dissapointment, anger, etc. that many seem to be moving away from that tradition, sometimes even belittling it.

Anyways, maybe these things contribute to your impression of "elitism in the world of Flamenco".
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 17:28:09
 
Arash

Posts: 4401
Joined: Aug. 9 2006
From: Iran (living in Germany)

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

Funny thing is:

You can even become an "elitist" for flamenco, as a non spanish non gitano person. When you're deep in to something, most of the time you become much more sensitive or touchy about it and don't accept **** and nonsense about it so easily, which might appear as elitism (which I don't really know is the appropriate word to describe it or not). This attitude can apply to anything, be it your profession, your hobby, a group you invested a lot of effort and time in, a belief or whatever. Maybe it is also some kind of a feeling to protect it, which might lead to edgy behaviour sometimes.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 17:41:16
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

I've never heard of elitism in flamenco....

I was at a wedding recently and someone introduced me to another guy and said "he plays great flamenco guitar." The guy I was introduced to went on about this "fabulous rodrigo y gabriela" show. I was polite and just said "wow cool man that sounds great". 'How fun". Then he said "so rodrigo y Gabriela are like the most famous flamencos ever right?" I responded with "Well, theyre not actually flamenco." He then went on a diatribe about "why do genres disown people when they become successful" "Unsuccesful artists try to compensate by being elitist bla bla bla"
Since he was very drunk, and a moron just generally I just said okay sure and walked away. I'm sure he walked away from the encounter thinking I'm an elitist **** when really all I said was absolutely true..... so anyways. One persons elitist is another persons truth.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 19:58:54
 
Cloth Ears

 

Posts: 152
Joined: Apr. 26 2005
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

You're not elitist Leñador, except in a good way like BarkellWH was stating.

You know what flamenco is and are protective of the genre, as you should be.

R&G are great at what they do, but it is not flamenco. End of.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 20:41:18

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Leñador

quote:

One persons elitist is another persons truth.


Yeah but..in this specific case...one person was just flat out wrong!

I mean seriously, everybody knows the most famous flamenco ever was Pinky the dancing flamingo.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 20:59:25
 
rombsix

Posts: 6853
Joined: Jan. 11 2006
From: Beirut, Lebanon

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Piwin

quote:

I mean seriously, everybody knows the most famous flamenco ever was Pinky the dancing flamingo.


Descansa en paz...

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 22:58:40
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1761
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to rombsix



Eso es COOOMPAAASSSSS!!!!

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 23:02:21
 
Leñador

Posts: 5225
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

Pobre Pinky......

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 20 2017 23:32:42
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1538
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to BarkellWH

quote:

I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness.


Simon Raven said something similar:

“I've always written for a small audience of people like myself, who are well-educated, worldly, sceptical and snobbish (meaning that they rank good taste over bad)”

(I’d read most of his novels before I realised that he’d dramatised some of my favourite TV series, such as The Pallisers.)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 6:37:43
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1538
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Piwin

quote:

[…] there were no mistakes anywhere. When I asked the teacher why I hadn't got 20/20, he would say: "because perfection doesn't exist".


Then he’s marking out of 18, not out of 20. If there are no mistakes (however defined) then it’s perfect by definition.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 6:41:40

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Paul Magnussen

I think it was just a way (admittedly a strange way) of telling us that we could always do better. It's basically taking 2 points away to tell a 12 year old that he's not writing like a 50-year old academic. Since we never had QCMs, we always had to write answers out in full and they could justify taking those 2 points away based on the quality of expression. Though it was particularly bad in the humanities, they would also do this in the hard sciences as well.
In higher education, France has the Grandes Ecoles system, a fast-track way of getting into the best engineering schools. These are some of the smartest students in France but it is not uncommon in these schools to push the students so hard that average grades over the year are rarely over 10/20. A friend of mine finished his finals second of his cohort with only 6/20. The end game for them is not get a good grade as such, but to do better than the others. I've heard many expats complain about the French educational system. I think it clashes with the idea that many parents have of good parenting.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 7:16:15
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

I have a friend who says:

"No one knows less about flamenco than a Spaniard, except for a Spaniard who happens to know about flamenco."

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 7:56:10
 
jalalkun

Posts: 249
Joined: May 3 2017
From: Iraq, living in Cologne, Germany

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

"No one knows less about flamenco than a Spaniard, except for a Spaniard who happens to know about flamenco."


and when does a spaniard happen to know about flamenco?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 9:52:39
 
Escribano

Posts: 5843
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Paul Magnussen

quote:

Then he’s marking out of 18, not out of 20. If there are no mistakes (however defined) then it’s perfect by definition.


A science teacher once gave me 99/100 because "no-one has scored 100."

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 10:53:24
 
Jw

 

Posts: 86
Joined: Mar. 27 2011
From: Finland

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Escribano

Elitism is funny thing. Usually it comes up when you think you are doing something special. Nothing is special more than something else in humans life.

Flamenco is marginal music and it makes it even easier to feel yourself a really special. Wow, that guy knows flamenco and can dance/play/sing. It's just music like anything else. And actually not very popular music. It's good to find a meaning to life, I mean that you are really interested to do something during you life. It helps you going and usually it keeps your brain working longer. It's really good. No-one can say that that's more flamenco than that one. What the heck is flamenco??? It has been developing through it's whole history and it's still doing it. That's flamenco. Do your own thing. Even Rojas and Rodriguez is different flamenco, their knowledge and tradition is veeery strong. Actually I know musicians from their group and they are not interested to do traditional flamenco right now. Actually me neither. I've done it 25 years, and still love it a much but I prefer to compose my own music using the flamenco guitar techniques. Of course I also play with singers, dancers etc. traditional stuff but at the moment I don't want to compose using the same scales, chords, harmonies etc. Not my thing.

Many virtuoso players, and experienced musicians through the whole music world say the same stuff: There's no certain borders, you can do and try what ever you want.

I think that tells about experience and deep understanding about the whole music.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 11:42:15

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Jw

quote:

No-one can say that that's more flamenco than that one. What the heck is flamenco??


I get what you're saying and sort of agree, but there are nonetheless cases where it's just people talking out of sheer ignorance. That guy calling Rodrigo and Gabriela "flamenco" clearly didn't know anything about that band's history or sources of inspiration. There's just no connection to flamenco there. If someone says B.B. King was a great flamenco guitarist, I am elitist if I tell him he's wrong? The borders between genres can be porous, but I don't think it helps musical understanding to act as if they didn't exist at all.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 11:59:25
 
Jw

 

Posts: 86
Joined: Mar. 27 2011
From: Finland

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Piwin

You got the point and I agree, also with that B.B. thing. But as you said I think you got my point that I'm voting for the "open-minded" views. I've worked in Classical music industry also and it gets me totally bored when they start to analyze "what would be the correct way to play Beethoven's piano sonatas". Usually the big stars do their own things and that's why they are timeless. We can easily take and example from flamenco: Paco de Lucia. First many of flamenco people thought that he is not flamenco anymore, when he started to compose own songs, but now we all know how people think about him.

The background is important to know and learn (you can't get away from that), but never the less you are free to do different things, as I said. If you look carefully for example flamenco artist who does something completely different music or style you can still find "the flamenco" somewhere. Maybe playing style, dancers feet, singing style or how they use their voice etc.

So I don't mean that there are no borders between music styles, I only mean that those are really thin lines when you start searching things. For example you compare flamenco to Indian music, Morocco's music, Middle east music, Caribbean music etc. and then you start comparing those styles to other styles and so on and so on. Who has taken what from each others. It's a really complex world and also rich, because everything affects to everyone somehow.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 13:12:31
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2589
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Leñador

quote:

Then he said "so rodrigo y Gabriela are like the most famous flamencos ever right?" I responded with "Well, theyre not actually flamenco."

Even they (R&G) don't think they're flamenco - inside their self-titled album it says:

"NOTE: A LOT OF PEOPLE, WHEN DESCRIBING OUR SOUND SAY WE PLAY FLAMENCO. WE DON'T. WE BLEND A LOT OF STYLES INTO OUR PLAYING, BUT THIS AREA OF MUSIC IS NOT ONE OF THEM."

(it's in bold in the sleeve notes/booklet)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 16:47:26
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11031
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

"The only egoless persons in the world are saints...and you don't see saints playing guitars!"- john McLaughlin.

The idea of pride in your art is important for protecting the genre from contamination. The idea of ego is a sort of shield to protect your person from disrespect and getting taken advantage of. Ego must manifest to some degree at the lower levels in order to grow as an artist, and those at the very top tend to have less fear of competition and manipulation therefore tend to shed the ego unless it's needed. It can also manifest as a sort of fear of the unknown, for example a certain group of people (or individual) might be seen as a threat compared to your comfortable circle of peers. That is why "clicks" form and it takes the vulnerable egoless types to break in or out of these types of groups. Then there are those that always talk about the "problems" with OTHER PEOPLE's egos....it's all just part of human nature.

I find more problematic the types that simply don't know how to show respect toward their elders or those that have more experience vs their peers or their personal circle/click.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 19:19:22
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 2553
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Piwin

quote:

ORIGINAL: Piwin
In higher education, France has the Grandes Ecoles system, a fast-track way of getting into the best engineering schools. These are some of the smartest students in France but it is not uncommon in these schools to push the students so hard that average grades over the year are rarely over 10/20. A friend of mine finished his finals second of his cohort with only 6/20. The end game for them is not get a good grade as such, but to do better than the others. I've heard many expats complain about the French educational system. I think it clashes with the idea that many parents have of good parenting.


During a 43-year career in engineering I was fortunate to work with some of the best educated engineers in the world. My perspective was formed by education as a mathematician and physicist, exposed in greater depth to these subjects than most engineers.

In my last job I supervised a varied crew containing, among others, PhD graduates of Stanford, MIT, University of Southern California and other top U.S. engineering schools.

I also worked extensively with PhD graduates of Cambridge, Kings College London, and other top U.K. institutions. Some won international prizes for papers they published, or for their overall body of work. One of my friends retired as Chief Scientific Officer of the U.K. Civil Service, another as Director of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, and a third as Director of the Royal Radar Establishment. In contrast to the USA, many of the best engineers in the U.K. work for the Civil Service.

But as a group, the PhD graduates of the Ecole Polytechnique were the best educated engineers I met. Many of them were military officers in the French Corps of Engineers. In the USA the Corps of Engineers are descended from the sappers, who dug tunnels undermining fortresses and built defensive earthworks. The French Corps of Engineers are descended from Napoleon's artillery, the most technologically advanced military unit of the 19th century.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 23:10:03

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Richard Jernigan

I just realized that in my previous post I got it wrong. The Grandes Ecoles are the "best engineering schools" that I was referring to. Polytechnique would be considered a Grande Ecole. The fast-track way to get in there is through what they call "école préparatoire" and that's what I was talking about. I've heard that once you get in to the Grande Ecole, it's actually fairly "easier" than the école préparatoire. The Grandes Ecoles have a difficult admissions test. Those who go to university will usually wait to have a masters degree before attempting to get in to one of these schools. An école préparatoire is a 2-year track that prepares students straight out high-school for the admissions test into the Grandes Ecoles. Anyways, that's neither here nor there I suppose but just thought I should rectify my mistake.

@Jw Got it. I completely agree with you. Sorry I just gave in to my tendency to quibble.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 21 2017 23:40:44
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to withinity

"My 5 year old can paint like de Kooning and Jackson Pollock."


That is the only kind of elitism that bothers me. Grossly ignorant elitism. Everything else is not that important, really. But gross ignorance is dangerous when it gets into the realm of public policy. Reasonable ignorance is the state we all live in.

What I mean by Ignorant Elitism, is that there's a strain of elitist behavior that goes around knocking down true elites, those who have attained mastery in some subject. Elites are a good thing because they hold a special knowledge of skill for the betterment of culture and society. There are those who try to manipulate that mastery into a pejorative offense move and play it as an "us vs. them" situation. That is dangerous because it undermines true elites who have made important accomplishments, who's opinions should be heard and not jammed.


Everyday back and forth conversations about cultural value, aesthetic value, names or confusion between names and definitions of cultures, and that stuff is usually healthy. Elitism comes up now and then, but like Ricardo said, real authorities or knowledge tested folks don't indulge too much in petty disputes. The only thing I differ on the subject is that if there is an elder person who is abusive towards newbies or others in the dicsipline, I tend to see those situations as judgment calls as to how much piety one really owes an older person. If someone talks some trash talk once in while, ignore it, but habitual ax grinders that indoctrinate others on authority of their age should be subject to getting called on it.

I may later be sorry I said that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 1:44:23
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

That is why "clicks" form and it takes the vulnerable egoless types to break in or out of these types of groups. Then there are those that always talk about the "problems" with OTHER PEOPLE's egos....it's all just part of human nature.


Clique...Opera Cliques are notoriously bitchy. Way bitchier than flamenco cliques, or the clique of those who go around correcting spelling mistakes.

I'm not a spelling elitist, I just got lucky and know how to spell clique because I dated three sopranos in my career. Well, technically one was an alto with an extended high range, but still quite cliqued out.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 5:18:12
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1320
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Piwin

quote:

I mean seriously, everybody knows the most famous flamenco ever was Pinky the dancing flamingo.


Actually, the most famous flamenco dancer (well, aside from Carmen Amaya--or are non-aficionados unaware of her anyway?) is, perhaps, an Italian-American born in New York, namely Jose Greco. Funny world.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 5:27:03

Piwin

Posts: 2164
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to estebanana

quote:

I may later be sorry I said that.


I just printed out your post for safekeeping. You never know.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 5:43:34
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1538
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to estebanana

quote:

My 5 year old can paint like de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.


Then I suggest you go into the forgery business

Seriously, you may not understand what Pollock's doing; but though this be madness, yet there’s method in ’t. It clearly meant something to him.

And it does to me, too, although I wouldn’t go so far as to claim to understand it. All I can say is that many modern paintings bore me; Pollock’s don’t.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 6:21:50
 
estebanana

 

Posts: 7502
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to Paul Magnussen

quote:

quote:

My 5 year old can paint like de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.


Then I suggest you go into the forgery business

Seriously, you may not understand what Pollock's doing; but though this be madness, yet there’s method in ’t. It clearly meant something to him.

And it does to me, too, although I wouldn’t go so far as to claim to understand it. All I can say is that many modern paintings bore me; Pollock’s don’t.


Oh I presented this all wrong, I was quoting what people have said to me. Then after the quote I said this is kind of elitism in itself and based on ignorance.

Believe me if I, or any kid I may have in the future is a de Kooning I'll understand. And in his own unique way I know and think Pollock is a very elegant painter. No one can really touch de Kooning, he was the best of them all. In way one of the last truly great painters.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 8:38:07
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 2794
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Elitism in the world of Flamenco (in reply to constructordeguitarras

quote:

Actually, the most famous flamenco dancer (well, aside from Carmen Amaya--or are non-aficionados unaware of her anyway?) is, perhaps, an Italian-American born in New York, namely Jose Greco. Funny world.


In fact, a teen-aged Paco de Lucia toured with the Jose Greco Flamenco Dance Troupe in the early sixties. It was around 1963-64, that Paco met both Sabicas and Mario Escudero in New York City while with Jose Greco. Both, of course became something of early mentors to Paco.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 22 2017 17:00:37
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