Photog Brings the Flamenco

Gilles Larrain shows the soul of Seville in Coral Gables.

Larrain cuts around tables and boxes, trying to select images for his show. He stops at a box full of pictures and fishes out a portrait of Pepe Romero, noting he was the first musician to introduce the piano into flamenco.

The gelatin silver print depicts the dignified middle-age musician wearing a tux and drinking a glass of amontillado as he sits at the piano. "He was inspired. His was a passion of the heart. Imagine bringing a bourgeois instrument like the piano to the music of the poor like Romero did," croaks Larrain.

He beckons to a photograph of a portly man with Elvis sideburns teaching a young girl how to command the stage. "That's El Farruco with student Carmen Segura," he explains. "He's the grandfather of the Farruco dance dynasty, and she has grown to become one of the greatest flamenco dancers today."

Song and dance men: Potito and Changito at La Carbonería, a hive of flamenco talent.
Song and dance men: Potito and Changito at La Carbonería, a hive of flamenco talent.


Through March 7. Centro Cultural Español, 800 Douglas Rd, Ste 170, Coral Gables; 305-448-9677,

As Larrain gets swept away describing his visits with La Perata and her son El Lebrijano; Fernanda Romero; and Tía Juana la del Pipa, one can almost hear the foot-stomping and castanets.

Larrain's flair for the dramatic is perhaps best encapsulated in the striking photograph of gypsy Mario Maya, one of flamenco's biggest names.

Standing in a barren olive grove, the dancer wears a fierce scowl on his face as he kicks up a heel and crisply slices his arms against his chest.

"In Seville I was exposed to the true roots of flamenco, which are as gnarled and deep as those of the olive tree," says Larrain. "This is pure, raw flamenco from the heart without any sugarcoating and has been a transformative influence in my life. Look, the lens never lies."

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