Company uses flamenco dance to break down cultural barriers

Past Event

Flamenco Vivo / Carlota Santana

  • Thursday, October 7, 2004, 7:30 p.m.
  • Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, KU campus, Lawrence
  • All ages / $11.50 - $28


Legendary dancer Martha Graham said, "Dance is the language of the soul."

Well in flamenco, soul is the language of the dance.

With fast-paced rhythms, hand-clapping and foot-stamping, members of the Spanish dance company Flamenco Vivo/Carlota Santana will attempt to communicate their passion for the 200-year-old art form Thursday at the Lied Center.

The goal of the dancers is to perform with "duende," the Spanish word for the soul and passion of flamenco, says Joan Stone, a Kansas University dance instructor.

"Duende is what draws people to flamenco," she says. "When it is achieved, it goes right to your center."

Flamenco's use of intricate rhythm and improvisation and its origin in poor communities makes it comparable to a familiar American art form.

"It's a bit like jazz," Stone says. "And like jazz, it's difficult because you have to learn the complicated rhythms well enough that you can play with it."

KU dance students and other community dancers will have a chance to receive instruction in the complex dance form. While in Lawrence for their Lied Center concert, Flamenco Vivo company members will teach master classes and workshops on the art and history of flamenco.

Roberto Lorca and Carlota Santana founded Flamenco Vivo/Carlota Santana in 1983 as the Spanish Dance Arts Company. Their mission was to blur the boundaries between cultures using the universal spirit of flamenco. That mission continues today through community outreach, arts-in-education programs and performances for diverse audiences.

The company tours throughout the United States with six to 12 dancers and musicians, presenting flamenco with Spanish, Arabic, Judaic and Gypsy influences. The company uses flamenco to tell "dance stories" that deal with universal themes such as pride, sorrow, love and death.

Friday's performance will include "Suite Español," a Spanish classical dance choreographed to classical music and making use of castanets (small percussion instruments); "Zapateado," composed mostly of "taconeo" (intricate and rhythmic footwork); "Seguiriya," one of the oldest flamenco forms, in which the serious, tragic sound of the music allows the dancer to express sorrowful feelings; and "Martinete," which uses the rhythm that comes from the sounds of blacksmiths' hammers.

"Bailes de Ida y Vuelta" will show the transition of flamenco from the elegant and poised dance of the early 1900s to today's bold and energetic Latino-influenced style that combines percussive flamenco rhythms with salsa movements.

The dances performed are Colombianas, a tribute to the Colombian Andean culture; Milonga and Vidalita, displaying Argentinean tango influences; the Cuban Guajiras and modern Latino-Caribbean Salsa. The work is choreographed by Antonio Hidalgo.


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