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Celebrating Spanish culture & style in Abuja

The Spanish Embassy in Abuja recently celebrated its 10th Spanish Cultural week. Residents and guests in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) experienced the European country…

The Spanish Embassy in Abuja recently celebrated its 10th Spanish Cultural week. Residents and guests in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) experienced the European country in different dimensions.
It was a week of encountering Spain’s cultural heritage in various dimensions from visual arts to food, music and dance.
The week began with an exhibition of works which had won the visual arts competition titled; ‘Barcelo: An artist between the Mediterranean and Africa.’ At the event there was a second exhibition, ‘The 10 of 10,’ which was a celebration of the 10 first prize winners of the 10 editions of the Visual Arts Competition. More than 40 entries received for this edition showed how Nigerian art trends have evolved over the years.
Commenting on the quality of entries received, Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfonso Sebastián de Erice said: “This year dozens of young Nigerian artists showed us that Nigeria is a country with an enormous artistic capital, which has witnessed the birth of great contemporary art figures.”
He added that: “This year the African continent is the theme of the Visual Art Competition, personalised through the figure and work of the painter Miquel Barceló. Initially, Barcelo’s work was influenced by the Avant-garde, Art Brut and American abstract Expressionism.” 
The winners this year were Stephen Osuchukwu, Modestus Ukeoma and Sor Sen who emerged first, second and third place winners respectively.
Osuchukwu was awarded a paid trip to Madrid to visit the 2016 edition of ARCO, one of the main contemporary art fairs of the international circuit, where every year more than 160 art galleries, from all over the world, take part.
There was a stage performance of Pedro Antonio de Alarcó’s 1874 piece, ‘The three cornered hat’ by the Jos Repertory Theatre at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, with a stage performance of ‘The three cornered hat.’
The play is rooted in the medieval ballad traditions and tells a series of mistaken identities and romantic misadventures that conclude in a merry free-for-all.
The ambassador said the 10 years the initiative has existed has served to foster Nigerian-Spanish relations, beyond imagination. “The Jos Repertory Theatre, one year more, is facing a real challenge: how to perform for Nigerians in Nigeria a real Spanish theatre play from the 19th century. This is not an easy task. As every year, I am sure that they are going to surprise us,” he noted.
“The play,” Erice said, “was chosen to show societal and family values which are important to Spain as well as to Nigeria,” and thanked the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company for being a part of the programme.
NLNG General Manager, External Relations Division, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said the company was supporting this year’s outing following an invitation from the embassy for them to participate.
Patrick Jude Oteh said the piece was the eighth in the series of plays performed during the annual Spanish week.
“In terms of cultural exchanges, this for us has been a tremendous success and we believe and know that we have been vastly enriched by the annual Spanish plays,” he said.
At the National Day celebration, the Spanish envoy described 2014/2015 as having: “been an intense and passionate year in Nigeria. Peaceful, free and fair elections were held, at which the Nigerian people with their vote made a call for change.”
He added that: “Spanish-Nigerian relations have a strategic component, both from the security dimension as well as from the economic and commercial point of view. In this context, President Buhari and H. M. the King of Spain held a meeting in New York last September. I can only qualify this meeting as excellent for our relations.”
According to him: “The government of Spain trusts the economic reforms of President Buhari and his anti-corruption campaign,” adding  that “solid policies are essentials to attracting investors.” 
The envoy who considers Spain fortunate to have privileged economic and trade relations with Nigeria added that: “We are Nigeria’s second best customer. We bought in 2014, 6.5 billion Euros in oil and gas. We can straight forward say that Spain and Nigeria maintain strategic relations in this area.
“It is a mutually satisfactory two-way road. Spain, by being reliable in its purchases, contributes to the generation of income and wealth by which the Nigerian State can render social services (health, education) and create employment through its investments.” 
The relations between Spain and Nigeria are also important from the perspective of the fight against illegal trafficking in human beings, Erice stressed. “We have succeeded in creating a spirit of close collaboration. Co-operation in migration and police matters is essential and strategic to Spain and Nigeria and the whole of Europe,” he stressed. 
With Spain contributing more than 177 million Euros since 2009 to this region that constitutes a pillar of our foreign policy, the envoy said: “We firmly believe in the potential of the West African region.”
The week came to a climax with Flamenco’s performance at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. The event this time around was a fusion of Spanish and Nigerian rhythms, instruments, songs and dance; away from the norm of the last nine years.
One of the participants of the band, Diego Villegas Gómez, who has been into Flamenco for the past 14 years as a dancer and a flutist told Weekend Magazine that Flamenco, expresses various emotions from extreme sadness to extreme happiness.
“If you understand the steps, you can understand the real flow of flamenco. The male and female have their respective roles in dancing flamenco. But different as their roles are, they are always in connection with one another. It is an intimate dance and provokes the feeling of romance without physical contact. It is all in the inside and exudes in the steps and body movements of the performers,” he explained.
The group’s lead dancer, Anabel Veloso, who has graced Abuja stages over the last seven years displaying her dexterity in the dance she has practised and exhibited for the past 20 years, said: “Flamenco is very diverse. Sometimes I want to be calm, and dance for sadness and show the audience the sadness of my town and people. Other times, it is a party.”
She began preparing for the event three months ago, getting attuned with Nigerian music and dance steps and art. She said: “I realised that the rhythms and movements are very similar to ours. As soon as I arrived I got to work and rehearsed six to seven hours daily for three days before this performance.
“Every time I come up stage, the feeling is excitement, especially because I am performing to an audience that cannot predict my moves and will be wowed by everything I do unlike an audience back home that already knows the ins and outs of Flamenco. I can feel the surprise in the faces of the Nigerian audience and that is such a delight in itself.” 

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