Remangar: Getting down to flamenco tonight

Marion Fischel – Jerusalem Post – 27.5.2013

Flamenco dancer Keren Pesach and her guitarist husband Avner will appearing the Ashdod Mediterranean Festival.

Flamenco dancer Keren Pesach and her guitarist husband Avner will be appearing tonight at the Ashdod Mediterranean Festival. The name of their dance troupe is Remangar, the Spanish word for “pushing up your sleeves,” meaning “getting down to it,” a reflection of what real flamenco is all about.

Both husband and wife are dedicated heart and soul to the art of flamenco, having studied it at the source, in Seville, Spain, at the heart of a gypsy family of renowned dancers, the Farrucos.

Keren began dancing jazz at age 10, and by the time she was 20 found herself attending the Amor De Dios flamenco academy in Madrid, where she met Avner.

At the time, Keren cleaned the homes of Madrid’s Israeli embassy employees to be able to stay in Spain and continue studying flamenco.

Avner supported himself by selling imported paintings at market stalls. Eventually, Keren’s money ran out and she had to move back to Israel. She and Avner had been “just friends” for six years. One year later, Avner appeared at her door and they returned to Spain together.

Back in Madrid they worked at the Paco Mora company which performed internationally, even spending a year in South and Central America. In Spain they also worked in Malaga and were eventually offered the opportunity to do a show in Israel with Spanish artists.

The Pesachs still felt that they had not gotten to the heart of the matter and decided to move to Seville, where they would be able to deepen their understanding of flamenco. They were determined to learn from the true greats and approached the Farruco family. It wasn’t easy to convince them, however.

La Farruca, the matriarch, finally agreed to see them and asked Keren to dance something for her. Keren danced and Farruca told her: “One day you will dance with me.”

“There was a connection there from the beginning. It was something inexplicable,” says Avner.

“We got close to them” interjects Keren. “We lived there for seven years. We lived through the death of ‘El Moreno,’ [the patriarch] and the long mourning period. Many hard things.

For a while we did not even dance, just helped the family [with household chores].”

In 2003, one of the sons, Farruquito, returned to the stage after the mourning period, and decided to have “La Keren” dance with him.

“They knew that we understood their dance; their dance is deep, it has philosophy and has many details. It is like a religion,” says Avner. “‘La Keren’ and I, until today, we are dedicated to the philosophy of the dance to give respect to the abuela (“the grandmother”) [the older generation]. You don’t only dance for your feeling, also for culture, respect, style. Flamenco is not just dance, it is also a way of communicating. We tell our students [at the Remangar flamenco school in Tel Aviv and at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel] that it is not only important to learn how to dance, but also to be sensitive to others.”

“Farrucco understood that as Israelites we can respect and understand and keep learning,” says Avner.

Spanish flamenco star couple, Grammy-award-winning Paco Heredia and his cantaora (“singer”) wife Montse Cortes will be appearing alongside Remangar at the Ashdod Mediterranean Festival tonight at 8 p.m. Remangar is also appearing on June 22 at the Jerusalem Theater and on June 29 at Hamerkaz Le’omanuyot Habama in Jerusalem.

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