Dance Magazine just named lead dancer Compania Flamenca one of the “Top 25 Dancers to Watch.” Direct from Cadiz, Spain, Eduardo Guerrero and Compania Flamenca, a group of live musicians and elite dancers, will captivate audiences with classical and contemporary Spanish dance, ballet and contortion to express the depth of passion and skill exhibited in this beloved Spanish art form.
Free MAC Chat
Vanesa Roimicher will provide the MAC Chat at 1pm. Vanesa is a native of Chicago with Cuban, Argentinean, and Spanish heritage. She is a Flamenco dancer and teaches Spanish at College of DuPage. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois Univ. with a Bachelors in Spanish and minor in Dance. Her Masters is in American Cultures and Literatures from the same university. She has danced with Ensemble Español and has performed in venues across the Chicagoland area, Indiana, and New York.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
MAC Bites – a taste of the show
“Flamenco is the means through which man reaches God without the intervention of saints or angels” – Luis Antonio de Vega
Today’s performance features Flamenco which is an art form that came out of a response to oppression and racism – transforming pain into an expression of beauty. The exact details of this centuries-old dance form is uncertain but many of the roots of Flamenco can be traced to the rich blend of liturgical and secular music from the East combining with the dances of the gypsies when they came to Andalusia (the southern region of Spain). Andalusia was the breeding ground for the continued development and mixing of Andalusian folk music and the flamenco song.
Flamenco was born out of political and religious persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Flamenco history connects with a variety of cultures and ethnicities including: Gypsies of India, Sephardic Jews of Middle East and Moors and Arabs of Northern Africa. The Gypsies, Muslims, Jews and anyone living in Spain at the time of the Spanish Inquisition were ordered to convert to Catholicism. These groupings had a great deal in common: low social standing, extreme poverty, incessant hunger and their music. Flamenco dance gave voice to the spirt of desperation and struggle, offering hope to those being persecuted for their beliefs.
In the beginning of the Flamenco form, singing was the focus and it was performed in a family setting. During the late 18thcentury, Flamenco shifted into a performance, and in the late 19thcentury (aka the Golden Age of Flamenco) the dance form flourished in “cafe cantantes” (song and dance cafes) and the dancer became the main attraction.
Flamenco consists of three basic components:
- Baile– dancing
- Cante– singing which shapes the choreography and inspires movement
- Toque– guitar which accompanies song and enhances movement
Flamenco is a conversation between these three components/performers. The music is based on different rhythms, each with its own tempo, feeling, melody and chord structure. Flamenco is similar to jazz in that there is a basic structure that is followed, but at its heart it is an improvised form and each part plays off one another. If the dancer brings up the tempo – the musicians follow. When the singer is singing – the dancer changes according to the mood. Jaleoare rhythmic sounds accompanying a Flamenco performance which can be hand clapping, finger snapping, or tapping with a wooden cane. Handwork, the movement a dancer makes with their hands while dancing is called Floreowhich means “to flower”.
Origin of the word Flamenco is a mystery. One theory provided by Blas Infante, Andalusian historian, suggests that the word comes from the Hispano-Arabic phrase Fellah mengumeaning “expelled peasant” and during the 18thcentury, flamenco meant “ostentatious, dashing”. A third meaning is that flamenco is a derivative of ‘flamma’ meaning ‘flame’ and it was used to describe the fiery and flashy character of the gypsy music and dance. In any case, it is best described by Claus Schreiner in his book title Flamenco. He shares, “the meaning of ‘flamenco’ endures today, reflecting a certain attitude toward life that is very difficult to translate: pride, self-confidence, style.”
We hope you enjoyed this taste on Flamenco. During intermission or after the show, be sure to share your experiences with us!