Aspiring to make Flamenco accessible to all, Alba Flamenco is Edinburgh’s own but somewhat hidden Peña. It has brought top quality Flamenco to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for over ten years now, in addition to its regular delivery of Flamenco classes, workshops and shows during the rest of the year. Although perhaps easy to miss, being slightly off the main drag, it is absolutely worth searching for; it takes its mission very seriously in the best possible way and strives to offer something that is quite distinctive.
With a number of familiar faces from last year’s Fringe show, Alba Flamenca gives us something that is becoming surprisingly more difficult to find, even in Andalusia: an authentic Flamenco experience. This is Flamenco as you want it to be, indeed as it really has to be—generous of spirit and emerging directly from the heart.
The performance is intimate and inclusive and the performers warm and welcoming. This early matinee starts at least eight hours before Flamenco would even consider warming up in Andalusia, but everyone is still game. The singing in particular is excellent and the dancers spontaneous, passionate and exciting to watch. The performers have the audience immediately in their thrall, and the show seems to end far to quickly. The intimate venue only serves to enhance the immediacy of the performance—there is absolutely nothing in the way between performer and audience.
Would one be able to find Flamenco that is more technically brilliant? Perhaps. However, that is not really what Flamenco is about. This isn’t merely a passive showcase, but an invitation to join in with something very personal and special. If there is one negative thing, it is only that on leaving the venue, the audience suddenly discover it’s a cold, bright Scottish day, rather than a warm, dark Andalusian night: difficult indeed to have to come to terms with.