Author: Jill Kimball

CU’s Artist Series brings flamenco music and dance to Boulder

CU Presents’ 80th-anniversary Artist Series continues with a concert of sizzling, seductive music and dance from Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, America’s foremost experts in traditional Spanish dance. Their one-night-only performance, “Poema de Andalucía,” takes place on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in CU Boulder’s Macky Auditorium.

“Poema de Andalucía” shines a spotlight on romantic Southern Spain with original solo performances, duets and group numbers. The region of Andalusia, often dubbed the “cradle of flamenco,” is home to diverse cultures and traditions, making it an international destination for dance, art,  literature and poetry.

“Centuries ago, the Spanish and the Arabs and the Gypsies all lived here and traded their music and dance in the marketplace,” says Carlota Santana, Flamenco Vivo’s founder and artistic director. “Flamenco is a combination of all of these influences, and no one really knows who started it.”

We can only trace flamenco as far back as the 18th century, when it was a cultural minority’s plea for equality and liberty conveyed through sung melody and rhythmic hand claps. The additions of fancy footwork and strumming guitars came later, but those emotion-filled vocal cries can still be heard in restaurants and nightclubs throughout Andalusia.

“Flamenco is all about emotional expression for me,” Santana says. “Flamenco channels so many different feelings, from sad to angry to provocative to happy and lively. If you’re in the audience and feeling any of those things at the time, you’ll be able to really connect with the performers on stage.”

In this particular performance, Flamenco Vivo will also connect with art lovers in two pieces examining famous Andalusian painters. In one, dancers recreate and bring to three-dimensional life the works of Julio Romero, who became known for his iconic portraits of women in and around Córdoba. In another, the story of Pablo Picasso’s blue period unfolds through a contemporary style of Spanish dance.

Also on the program are two solo pieces, a lively tribute to the famous flamenco couple Lole and Manuel, and a taranto, a somber kind of flamenco rooted in the mining towns of Eastern Spain.

Santana emphasizes that no knowledge of dance is needed to have a fabulous time at a Flamenco Vivo performance. The key is to arrive with an open mind, a full heart and no inhibitions.

“Flamenco brings a certain excitement out of people, and they should feel free to express that however they want,” she says. “If you’re sitting and watching and suddenly you feel like yelling an ‘Olé!’—you’re allowed to do that.”

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