Special thanks to Ian McAllister, from Australia, guest blogger as he explains a very special incident he experienced as a student in Spain, back a few years ago.
I jerked around because of a chorus of yells rapidly approaching behind me. They drowned out polite applause for a very skilful open-air ballet performance.
It was the International Festival of Student Culture held in Grenoble about 45 years ago. If you think that ballet dancing is easy, just try lifting somebody the same weight as yourself above your head with one hand.
These clever students made it look so easy, and that was the problem. Good showmanship emphasizes the difficulty and leaves the audience holding their breaths to see if the performer will succeed.
The Entry of Spanish Students
Galloping towards the arena was a cavalcade of Spanish students. They were standing on their horses yelling. Many colored ribbons streamed out behind them.
They slowed down to a canter as they charged into the arena. The students leaped off the cantering horses and jumped up onto the platform. The horses disappeared somewhere behind the audience again.
Could They Maintain the Drama?
The aggressive, compulsive rhythms of the Spanish folk songs didn’t give us a chance to relax. I like nearly all folk music, but this was something special.
Then I burst out laughing as they sang “No puedo amar mas que a una.” Let me explain… I had asked a student earlier why they wore all these dozens of colored ribbons. He told me that each ribbon represented a girlfriend.
Now they had the cheek to sing “I can’t love more than one girl.” Perhaps good advice for the girls would be “Trust him not fair maiden.”
Better Horsemanship in Perth but…
Three times I’ve watched the Andalusian Dancing Stallions perform here in Perth, Australia and the riders and horses must be among the best in the world but…
They made it look too easy. I can’t remember a single stunt that they performed. It’s all just a jumble of brilliant choreography in my mind. And it’s only ten years since I saw them. They are superb riders – not showmen.
Oh, I was with the Scottish students in Grenoble. We sang a three-hour Mass all in Latin in seven-part harmony that we had memorized. It was fiendishly difficult, but even polite applause would have been frowned on in the Cathedral. So we didn’t need showmanship.
The Spanish students finished their last song just as the horses trotted by again so that the students could leap onto their backs again from the platform without them stopping.
There was nothing polite about the applause this time. It even drowned out the yells of the departing Spanish students until they were disappearing into the distance.
I’ll never forget this most dramatic performance that I have ever seen.
Check out Ian’s website below!