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Flamenco comes alive through vivid photos and simple storytelling

By Lisa Lopez


The world of flamenco performance is beautifully depicted in this illustrative photo essay entitled ¡OLÉ! Flamenco by George Ancona and published by Lee & Low Books.


Ancona manages to convey a true love of the ancient and international music and dance of flamenco. The book commences by introducing the meaning of ¡OLÉ!, which is a shout of approval and encouragement.

He moves on to share his personal journey to the south of France and encountering the origins of flamenco coming from the Gypsies. The book traces the roots of the dramatic art of flamenco in which the author’s passion for it is brilliantly captured.

The work’s main character is Janira Cordova, the youngest dancer of Flamenco’s Next Generation, a dance company in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As the book progresses to share a myriad of colorful photographs depicting the richness of flamenco’s existence, the author makes sure to define words such as cantaor, duende, cante, bailaora, juerga flamenca, etc.

The book manages to classify, explain, illustrate and thus transmit, the true essence of flamenco; a culturally-rich and living art form that is now celebrated and practiced world-wide.

The book is not overwhelmingly long or difficult for young readers to read independently or to be shared with someone. The author’s writing style is full of flavor and ardor for this dramatic and mesmerizing art form.

The colorful photographs allow the reader to feel the “compas” or rhythm of the clapping, guitar playing, and singing portrayed in each and every single shot. There is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the back of the book which helps readers understand and relate to the information better.

A vibrant work of art from an award-winning author and photographer! Readers will surely want to start dancing and shouting ¡OLÉ!

Lisa Lopez is a school librarian and part of the Review ‘n Receive book review program.

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