Enjoy flamenco in hippest corner of Belfast

A member of the Alegria flamenco group in full flow
A member of the Alegria flamenco group in full flow

On Sunday February 16, the Black Box in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter will be transformed into a performance space for flamenco troupe Alegría, who will bring the vivid colours, passionate movement, castanets and heartfelt music of Andalucia to the hippest corner of the city.

Alegría are the most prominent flamenco group in Northern Ireland and are made up of Myriam Alonso (vocals), Andrea da Silva (dance), Emma Van Loock (palmas) Paddy Anderson (guitar), and John Flanigan (guitar and palmas).

The group meet and practice in a unique, purpose-built Peña Flamenca at John Flanigan’s Castlereagh home. Inspired by sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera, the Peña has special lighting, sound and video systems, a study dance-floor, and is the only one of its kind in Ireland.

Andrea commented: “Flamenco is a very beautiful art form, as well as being hugely entertaining. Our performances often have the audience enjoying themselves and joining in by stamping their feet, clapping and shouting ‘Olé!’

Alegría, which means ‘happiness’ in Spanish are the latest incarnation of Flamenco Belfast - a dedicated collective of dancers, musicians and singers all deeply committed and enthusiastic in their study and performance of the classic Andalucian art form.

Guitarist Paddy Anderson explained: “Our aims are to entertain and stimulate our audiences with the powerful drama of flamenco. We want to promote the excitement of authentic flamenco, and to perform and tutor all aspects of the art form to a standard not currently available here.

“Our previous shows in the Black Box have attracted music and dance lovers from all over the city. They’ve also become a popular social hub for the Spanish community in Belfast, and reflect the ever-increasing multi-cultural nature of our society.

Alegría guitarist John Flanigan added: “The beauty and power of flamenco lies in its emotion, rhythms, colours and spontaneity. There is a close affinity between flamenco music and traditional Irish music, especially in terms of its passions and rhythms.”

Black Box manager Sarah Jones said: “The Alegría troupe is hugely entertaining and have the kind of engaging, open personalities required to inspire both audiences and the next generation of performers of this captivating art form.

“Their tremendous skills reflect over 75 years of combined experience as students and teachers of flamenco in theory and practice, both in Spain and here in Northern Ireland. We urge people to book early as we expect Sunday February 16 to be a sell-out performance.”

Alegría will perform at the Black Box, Hill Street, Belfast, February 16, 7pm. Visit www.blackboxbelfast.com.