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Flamenco dancers heat up NCC stage

FLAMENCO VIVO CARLOTA SANTANA

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville

How much: Tickets are $15 and $25

Contact: Call 630-637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Flamenco dance is characterized by its percussive footwork, intricate hand and body movements and ornate costumes. Its history is storied and steeped in tradition.

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, one of the nation’s premier dance companies, will perform Feb. 3 at North Central College.

The New York-based company is led by Carlota Santana, its co-founder and artistic director. The company was formed in 1983 to preserve the art of flamenco and introduce it to new generations, and to bridge cultural differences and inspire audiences from diverse backgrounds.

Flamenco was influenced by many different cultures, including Spanish, Arabic, Judaic and Gypsy, Santana said.

“And all those cultures got mixed together and out comes flamenco,” she said. “We don’t know why it’s called flamenco or really when it began. Everything has been an oral tradition. What you see on stage today, you can kind of trace back to the 1700s when people first began talking about the art form.”

It is tradition for the women to wear gorgeous, long, ruffled dresses or dresses with polka dots, like the Gypsy women used to wear, she said.

“We have this one number at the beginning of the second half called ‘Mujeres,’ and the women are dancing with what we call a bata de cola — that is a dress with long train. That is a special number,” Santana said. “That’s a traditional piece of costuming; you have to create a special dance with the costume. You have to go to special classes to learn how to use it too. It’s not an easy thing to learn how to use.”

Vivo Flamenco Carlota Santana strives to keep the art form moving in a new direction, she said, by adding new instruments like cello or violin, jazz and salsa.

“Every couple of years, we try to create a new project, which is like a 50-minute ballet and we work with a storyline,” she said. “So it’s not just dance, dance, dance, but there’s a story going on, which I think is important for people who have never seen flamenco, so you can watch the story and it pulls you into the art. The art form can be a little bit difficult.

“We do lots of different things to bring the audience along with us. The movements might be a little more modern than in the old days. You would never have lifts — a man lifting a woman — we do that now in flamenco. Things get modernized.”

The company prides itself on its arts and education outreach work.

“Part of what I do is try to bring in young artists from Spain into the United States, let them work with us, and let them know what life is like on this side of the Atlantic,” she said. “They tour with us; I give them opportunities to do choreography. That was part of the goal and mission of the company.”

Other outreach opportunities include bringing flamenco dance and music into schools when they are on tour, and they participate in residency programs in North Carolina and New York.

At NCC, they will present a traditional all-live music program with five dancers and four musicians.

“We’re doing a series of duets and company numbers and some solos to show the different … elements of flamenco,” she said. “There’s a lot of tradition in the program.”

Audiences can expect to see dancers performing a lot of complicated rhythms.

“Some of them they might not understand because it’s complicated rhythms with the feet and the guitar,” she said. “They’ll see a lot of emotional expressions on the artists. Flamenco is nothing like a classical music concert … (where) you’re not allowed to applaud between the first and second movement. In flamenco, the dances are broken into sections and then they’ll stop. When they stop, the audience is allowed to applaud. We actually love it because it makes us feel as though the audience appreciates what we’re doing. So if there is a stop, the audience is welcome to applaud.

“And if the mood strikes them, they can even yell out an ‘Ole!’ That’s OK with us too.”

FLAMENCO VIVO CARLOTA SANTANA

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville

How much: Tickets are $15 and $25

Contact: Call 630-637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/showtix



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