ONE OF the more unusual artists to appear at the recent Fuengirola Fiera de los Pueblos was the world’s first male Indian flamenco artist.
37-year-old Kunal Om was born in Rajasthan, said to be the spiritual home of the Spanish Gypsies and from an early age was brought up on Indian dance and music with a particular interest in the glitz and glitter of Bollywood musicals.
Having been a professional performer all of his life, appearing in numerous Indian musicals as well as appearances with such diverse talents as Ricky Martin and Boney M, he has always looked to expand his dance knowledge.
“I decided I wanted to learn tap dancing but stumbled across flamenco instead” he told RTN in an exclusive interview.
“It wasn’t easy to find out a great deal about flamenco in India but I met up with Italian Roberto Nieddu who ran an annual flamenco and gypsy festival in Jodhpur on behalf of the Maharajah.”
“Thanks to him I started my journey of musical discovery which has brought me to Spain.”
One thing that Kunal unexpectedly found was that although there are clear similarities between Indian dance and flamenco there are also some major differences particularly with time signatures which made it hard for him to dance as well as he wanted.
Luckily, as was growing up, he had studied the complicated patterns of tabla drumming which requires the chanting of up to 100 different ‘talas’ (rhythm patterns) and he managed to adapt this skill to help him to understand the complicated flamenco dance patterns.
Kunal researched this style of dance for two years and then in 2014 decided that he had to travel to Spain in order to study ‘on site’ and shares his time between Granada and Sevilla, attending classes during the week and performing mainly traditional Indian dance at Indian Festivals across Spain and Europe.
He also spends a great deal of time meeting local dancers, picking their brains and admiring their choreography.
Now he is becoming more proficient and comfortable in his flamenco, he is also involved in presenting a fusion of the two folk cultures and recently appeared as a singer and dancer with Granada born dancer Cristina Aguilera at the Palacio de Congreso in her home city.
Kunal sees himself as a “flamenco preacher” and managed to incorporate some of that skill in his performances at the Fair in Fuengirola where he has now performed for three years running.
“I love the Fiera de los Pueblos at it is a beautiful platform not only to present my favourite dance but to see and mix with people from 30 plus countries as well as the thousands of visitors who love to be entertained in the national casetas and enjoy the different food.”
To find out more about Kunal Om visit www.indianflamencoartist.com.