Travel story contributor: Rini Hazel Templeton

My resolution for 2015 was ‘YOLO’ (you only live once) for me it meant, to experience and to do things without bothering about not having company. One of the things on my bucket list was to attend the Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival. The JFG Festival always intrigued me and I was dying to experience the amazing music and dance performances LIVE! I was hesitant because of the expenses, but my friend who works at Mehrangarh Fort coaxed me into booking my train tickets and to not worry about anything else. And because of her I got to attend the three day, Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival 2015 in the majestic Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.

And, so, JFG finally was checked off from my bucket list!!!

I was already happy high since I was going to stay in the Mehrangarh Fort, but little did I know that it was just the start. A full moon with Mehrangarh Fort as the backdrop, it could not get better than this.

Mehrangarh FortMehrangarh Fort in the background. View from Rao Jodha Park.

Here’s a little background to the JFG. The JFG Festival aims at bringing together Rajasthani folk musicians and legendary Flamenco and Gyspy artists from around the world. The festival provides a common platform for the musicians and dancers to let their creative juices flow and enthrall the audiences with their electrifying performances. The festival is jointly organized by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and CRN Productions.

Did you know the ‘gypsies’ originated in Rajasthan and Northern INDIA!! Later migrated and spread across the world in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and Australia as well. So it is befitting that artists with a gypsy hearts perform in their ancestral land. The festival highlights and encourages the importance of keeping folk music alive and presents a jugalbandi with a contemporary twist.

Folk Dance Music

Coming to ‘Flamenco’, it is a form of folk dance and music that originated in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. It includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance) and jaleo, which refers to the vocalizations and rhythmic sounds of palmas (handclapping) and pitos (finger snapping). The Spanish word ‘flamenco’ can mean “flamingo” referring to the bird, but originally means “flame-coloured”.

Karen LugoKaren Lugo

The artists were mesmerizing specially Karen Lugo, a young Flamenco dancer showcasing her exquisite technique and soulful performances; the charming Flamenco Dancer and choreographer, Daniel Navarro Munoz; Latin Jazz Pianist, Chano Dominguez; the talented bassist, Javier Colina; the unique style of flamenco musician, Agustín Carbonell “Bola”; flamenco jazz drummer, Israel Vasrela; Flamenco guitarist, Jose Manuel León and Berk Gurman; classical flamenco singer, Naike Ponce; Son of Latin Jazz Pianist Chano Dominguez, Pablo Dominguez, a percussionist and guitarist himself; flamenco singer, Javier Romero Flores “El Indio”; violinist, Victor Guadiana and Serdar Parzarcioglu; percussionist, Gürkan Özkan;  music director and a bass guitarist, Onur Gügül; Clarinet player, Alaattin Kabaci; along with electrifying percussion by Rajasthan Roots and modern electronic house music by Hamza(Dj Set) & Rajasthan Folkstars. Carmen Galofre is a painter based in Spain and you can see her painting during the festival LIVE.

Fusion Flamenco and Kalbelia
Electrifying jugalbandi of flamenco and kalbelia dancers!

The energy at the festival is insane. His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II, himself attended the festival! The solo pieces of Karen Lugo and Daniel Navarro Munoz were just out of this world; their mastery over their art is breathtaking. The fusion of Kalbelia and flamenco dance totally left me awestruck. Trust me on the fact that aggressive, sharp movements of flamenco in contrast to soft subtle movements of the Kalbelia dancer is a treat to watch. During the break the kartal players would entertain the audience with their artistry. And DJ Hamza made Mehrangarh Fort a dance floor with Manganiyar percussionist Latif Khan each night.

Rajasthani Folk Music

Nothing compares to live performances and when it is Rajasthani Folk music and Kalbelia dance along with Flamenco music and dance it just takes it to another level. If you have not attended this festival till now I suggest you do not miss this opportunity. JFGF 2016 will be held at Mehrangarh Fort on March 18-20, 2016.

Kalbelia Dance RajasthanClockwise -Carmen Galofre, painter at work; Kartal Players; Rajasthan Roots getting his groove on; Karen Lugo joins in the fusion with Kalbelia dancers

I myself might pack my bags again and leave on a jet plane to witness this epic juglabandi! See you on the other side…!!!