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Plucked from flamenco obscurity

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-04 16:27

Plucked from flamenco obscurity

Dancer Yamamoto Hideko and singer Zhao Zhen rehearse for their upcoming flamenco dance show. Zou Hong / China Daily

In a ground floor flat hidden inside the downtown Beijing Qiheyuan Diplomatic Compound, Japanese dancer Yamamoto Hideko claps her hands above her head while prancing around in red high heels. At the same time, singer-dancer Zhao Zhen sings, accompanied by guitarists.

They are rehearsing the dance piece Tarantos at their small studio, Casa Flamenco, for their upcoming show in the capital. It is the group's first show since it was founded three years ago.

With nearly 80 students and teachers, Casa Flamenco provides flamenco dance courses, guitar and Spanish lessons.

Plucked from flamenco obscurity

"Flamenco takes a lifetime to perfect, which is why we have people from beginners to professional in our classes," says veteran guitarist Liu Qiao.

For the former rock musician who studied music in Russia, flamenco is a profoundly individual art form based on emotion and sensation, with a long and mysterious history.

He says three years ago nobody talked about flamenco - but it's different now.

"I learned and listened to various music styles but flamenco has a special charm for me. The passion, the chords and rhythmic cycle, were like nothing I had heard before," he says.

Plucked from flamenco obscurity

Russian ballet nights 

The 2007 Year of Spain in China gave Liu the opportunity to attend shows and workshops with Spanish musicians and dancers, and was when he started learning Spanish.

Liu also invited Zhao Zhen, hailed as the first Chinese flamenco singer, to become an instructor at the studio.

Zhao, who is referred to as "La Perlita de Hunan", or "Hunan's Little Pearl", by the Spanish media, has been studying flamenco singing and dancing since 2001, in Spain.

She is currently a full-time instructor and performer in Spain, France and China.

Following its Beijing show, Casa Flamenco is expected to announce a national tour.

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