Dance department takes on 'Passion of Flamenco'

<p>Special to The Chronicle</p>

Special to The Chronicle

Last Spring, Duke’s dance department kicked off the Passion of Flamenco, a year during which the department welcomed world-renowned artists to teach and perform for students. In 2016, Dickinson and the rest of the dance department with continue to promote the Spanish dance. The department will be bringing in world-renowned artists Belén Maya and Leonor Leal for visits this Spring, as well as dance company Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.

Barbara Dickinson, professor of the practice of dance and the one who created the Passion of Flamenco program at Duke, started the program in hopes of educating her students and the Duke community as a whole in this unique dance form.

“We’re really just trying to nurture a knowledge of flamenco at the University for our students,” Dickinson said. “There are other faculty that have interest in this area as well who want to share this dance form with the Duke community.”

Beyond wanting to share Flamenco, Dickinson and her colleagues believe that visits from Flamenco artists place dance in its cultural context.

“The Flamenco dance form sits beautifully in our program, especially because it has had not only Spanish influence but also the Moorish influence and [from] a number of other countries and cultures,” she said.

In addition to the moves, music and passion that is present in a typical flamenco show, Bélen Maya introduced an interdisciplinary element to the style of dance. Her performance is a compilation of theater, language, theory, drama, aesthetics and more. This holistic technique broadened the scope of flamenco performances and created new possibilities for the art. Maya displayed her unique style on stages in Spain and around the world, as well as in director Carlos Saura’s film “Flamenco.” Maya will have three events in the Ark Dance Studio that are free and open to the public. The first is a lunch and conversation Feb. 3, the second a lecture and demonstration on Feb. 5, and the final event a master class Feb. 6.

Leonor Leal is a similarly talented artist who has been training in dance for the majority of her life. She is originally from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain and trained first in Spanish classical dance before taking up Flamenco. Leal will take a short residency at Duke from March 23 to 26. She is offering a talk and demonstration March 23 and an open master class in Flamenco March 26.

Finally, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana is coming to Durham to share their performance “The Passion of Flamenco: Up Close and Personal.” The Spanish dance company specializes not only in performance, but also in arts education and community outreach. Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana values the importance of the art of dance and is working to bring Flamenco to schools around the world. Last year, they offered a free symposium and master class on Flamenco to Duke students and the general public. In fact, Duke has a well established relationship with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.

“We’ve had a long association and collaboration with Carlota Santana,” Dickinson said. “[Santana] started teaching a full culture course for us called the Art and Cultural History of Flamenco, and her company has been present in Duke performances.”

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana is performing four times over Valentine’s Day weekend at Motorco Music Hall.


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