Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gypsy King; Hailing from One of Flamenco's Most Renowned Families, 21-Year-Old Farruquito Is Taking the Traditional Spanish Dance Form Back to Its Roots. Sarah Frater Meets Him

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gypsy King; Hailing from One of Flamenco's Most Renowned Families, 21-Year-Old Farruquito Is Taking the Traditional Spanish Dance Form Back to Its Roots. Sarah Frater Meets Him

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH FRATER

Watch the flamenco dancer known as Farruquito walk on stage, and you're not sure if you should cheer or weep, or run and hide. His stride is a charismatic glide, a step and a pause, and then a slow slide of the back foot that is two-parts languor, two-parts danger.

Farruquito wears the sharpest of suits, slim trousers, slim jacket, his sooty hair long and silky, his inky eyes downcast. It is, literally, the calm before the storm, a moment of stillness before this hugely talented dancer grabs you by the throat and pins you to the wall with one of the wildest, raggedy-raw performances you will see almost anywhere.

'It's traditional flamenco,' says Farruquito through a translator, emphasising the word traditional several times. 'Flamenco puro - no routines, no characters, no stories. Just the dancing. The true flamenco.' Farruquito is sitting backstage at the civic theatre in Nimes, southern France. Well, he's not so much sitting as in seated motion, his fingers clicking, his feet marking flamenco's complex rhythms, his body permanently active. All dancers have this elegant offstage fidget, especially when they're about to perform, as Farruquito is, before a packed house of enthusiastic fans.

What they've come to see is a million miles from the over-staged, overproduced flamenco we've seen in recent years, the sort with rigs and roadies and fashion designers on the costumes. Compared to those safe, synthetic shows, the 21-year-old Farruquito looks not so much unplugged as unhinged, a feral fighterdancer whose feet pound the stage with bone-breaking force, heels like gun shot, elbows stabbing like left and right hooks.

Farruquito's show, if that's the right word, seems from another age, an older form of flamenco that's plainly staged, but intensely performed. He dances mostly solo, proud and self-contained, up close with the musicians and singers who convey the passions of the Andalusian outcasts, the Gypsies marginalised by everyone from the Spanish Inquisition to General Franco.

Mention the word Gypsy and Farruquito smiles. It's something he's asked all the time.

'Sure, I'm a Gypsy,' he says, meaning that distinct ethnic group special to southern Spain who love nicknames and family and who are fiercely independent. 'But it comes from here and here,' he says, pointing to his head and his heart, 'not there,' pointing to my head and meaning non-Gypsy ideas about being a Gypsy. 'It's about pride and honour.

Freedom. Nobody ordering you around. No government.

Nobody else's rules.' Being a Gypsy also involves a strict code of conduct.

When his grandfather, the great dancer El Farruco died in 1997, Farruquito observed an official mourning, wearing black, not shaving, not dancing. It's hard to imagine any other dancer, let alone a singer or soap star, taking time out after the death of a relative. …

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