By Hunter Styles
A pause arrives, a breath in the music, and we witness the sudden pause in the dancer too – a wavering of the hip, the slightest thrust in chin or chest. Heartbeats, gaze rises, steps echo. A bead of sweat drops and disappears. For a moment, underneath the colored cloth, the hot machinery is visible.
The emotional honesty is humbling to watch.
By the end, the audience is on their feet, the dancers are nearly tottering but smiling broadly nonetheless, and the musicians come dutifully back down to earth. Antonio Andrade looks approvingly to the players at his side, and ahead to the dancers, he directed through the process. The music rings in our bones, in the heat of the music, in the heart of the city.
How to Get There
The Museo del Baile Flamenco attracts a wide demographic of locals, dancers, tourists, students, and everyone in between.
The museum is located at Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, 3, a ten-minute walk from the cathedral. The front desk is available by phone at (00 34) 954 34 03 11, or at (00 34) 954 22 47 50. Inquiries may be emailed to email@example.com. In my experience, they have been quick to respond. Several staff members are fluent in English.
Coming to Seville
Seville is extensively connected with the rest of Spain and with Europe, both by plane and rail. San Pablo International Airport connects with all major Spanish cities, the largest European capitals, and internationally via Madrid and Barcelona.
The Santa Justa Train Station is situated in downtown Seville with easy taxi service outside the terminal. The station is connected by RENFE, the national rail company, to Spain’s largest cities. The high-speed AVE line covers the distance to Madrid in 2 hours and 15 minutes; the ride to Barcelona is 4 hours and 30 minutes.
The world-famous Feria de Sevilla occurs annually during April’s Holy Week. Further information is available at Andalusia’s online guide to Holy Week.
Seville feels an extra flourish of flamenco every other autumn in the form of the Flamenco Biennial. During even-numbered years, stages and performance venues across the city host dances and concerts by internationally-known musicians and dancers.
Flamenco has become greatly professionalized, but the theater is hardly the only place to catch it. One need only wander into a flamenco bar (a “tablao”) in Seville’s downtown to find flamenco performers on a variety of stages, lit by anything from candles to fluorescent lights.
Where to Stay
For three nights in Seville, I made myself at home in the NH Plaza de Armas Hotel on the Marqués de Parada. The hotel is located in front of the 1992 World Exhibition Centre and, fittingly, is designed in a modern style emphasizing glass panels, stylish lounge spaces, and clean, uncluttered trips between floors.
The Plaza de Armas is one of three Seville hotels owned and operated by the NH group. The building doubles as a collection of conference rooms and lecture spaces, all of which are on the ground floor.
The hotel is close to the river, which affords some nice evening views within easy walking distance. Trips on foot into the thick of the city are relatively short, 15-20 minutes. Taxis from the hotel, however, are affordable and recommended for quick rides to the cathedral and park areas and beyond.
Rooms at the Plaza de Armas are comfortable, clean, and spacious for the standard starting price of 71 euro per day. A user-friendly rate calculator may be found on the hotel’s website, along with photographs and a “virtual tour” program. The swimming pool is outdoors and opens only seasonally. A large, enjoyable breakfast buffet is provided with table service. The front desk may be reached by phone at (00 34) 954 90 19 92.
Where to Eat
I enjoyed a filling and flavorful meal at Robles Tapas on Calle Argote de Molina, just a block from the cathedral. The restaurant is tastefully designed, with friendly staff, accommodating to medium-large parties. They may be reached by phone at (00 34) 954 21 31 50.
For a more refined (and extra-romantic) dinner out, consider Taberna del Alabardero at Calle Zaragoza, 20. The beautiful building – the renovated mansion of many of Seville’s most prominent historical families – also contains a small, luxurious set of hotel rooms on the top floor, as well as a prominent culinary school. Many entrees run above the 25 euro mark, but none disappoint.
Easy to Find Great Food
That being said, some of the best food in Seville is the easiest to find. Before the performance by Antonio Andrade’s group, I ate a quick but filling dinner of cured Iberian ham, manchego cheese, and a wonderful tortilla de patatas (potato omelette) at a little corner café two blocks from the museum called the Horno de San Buenaventura.
Many of Seville’s cafés provide eclectic and savory treats like this that may quickly and easily amount to a lunch or a dinner’s worth of food. Keep an eye out for opportunities to try mincemeats (picadillo’s), potato salad (papas aliñas), fresh anchovies (boquerones) and marinated dogfish (cazón en adobo). Summer brings with it Seville’s signature chilled gazpacho soup as well.
Whom to Follow
For those interested in a casual but informative guided walking tour, consider Passion Tours, a small local group. Javier Grillo, the director, is friendly, fluent in English, and will take the time to answer questions. He may be reached at (00 34) 954 56 32 45.
Hunter Styles is a former editor for the Valley Advocate, an alternative weekly in Western Massachusetts.