Flamenco Coming To LCAC
By Kayla Pellegrini
The wondrous dance of flamenco will be coming to the Leland Cultural Arts Center (LCAC) on June 24, as the Flamenco Carolina group performs 7-9 pm. This one-time dance performance will be accompanied by lively music on stage. Tickets are available for $15 per person. Flamenco Carolina group members Katie Hyde and Alicia Vila provided spoke to me about the dance’s origin, tradition, attire, music, and the overall basics of flamenco.
Flamenco originated in Andalucía, an area in the south of Spain, but draws inspiration from other regions such as Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. In Andalucía, religions like Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, are associated with flamenco, and “Gypsy” or the appropriate term, Roma or Romani individuals, are heavily involved with the flamenco dance.
A traditional, true flamenco performance, involves people gathering with or without a guitar to accompany the dance. If there are multiple singers, the singers take turns without missing a beat. Musicians and dancers pay close attention to each other for cues. Sometimes flamenco occurs on the streets — someone may begin by singing a short verse, sometimes improvised, then the public may do palmas (rhythmic clapping) and dance and jaleo (cheer). An enthusiastic audience that “oles” is crucial for a sincere flamenco.
To this day, authentic flamenco in Andalucía can still be found at theatres, clubs, parties, celebrations, weddings, baptisms, funerals, and even in residential homes. At a fiesta, a single flamenco can last for as long as 20 minutes.
For traditional attire, dancers wear shoes or boots that are hand-made and sturdy. The soles have nails inside to make the foot-stepping louder and act as additional percussion. The shoes or boots have toe-heel separation to create a range of sounds. But since flamenco can spring up anywhere at any time, it's not uncommon to see dancers in flip-flops or high heels in public.
Female dancers traditionally wear long, ruffled, and colorful skirts, along with hanging jewelry, fringed scarves, hair pins, and flower pins. On some occasions, dancers might have fans, a bata de cola (a skirt that goes past the feet from behind), or a manton de Manila (a delicate shawl).
The musical choice in flamenco is extremely broad. There are light hearted songs, and there are more serious songs, called cante jondo. Rather than telling the story from the song’s verses, the dancers represent the emotions. This means that the movements in flamenco are determined by the tones of the music.
Flamenco is a challenging and difficult dance. The movements must be accurate to the rhythm. It’s a hyper-physical activity, therefore flamenco is the perfect dance for quick learners or experienced dancers, however, all types of bodies, and all ages, from children to elders, can master flamenco.
The Flamenco Carolina group performs in North Carolina at multiple venues. For further information about the Flamenco Carolina, contact @flamencoartsnc on Facebook for classes and workshops.