When you read the word flamenco, what comes to mind? Perhaps you see women dancing in flaring dresses, men moving to snappy music. If so, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana aptly fits your imagination. But true to the world of flamenco, the performance group offers more than vibrant costumes and quick steps.
On Saturday, November 22 and Sunday, November 23, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana will present its 25th anniversary production at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli. The show, which will be the culmination of the group’s two-week residency at the center, will feature a variety of traditional flamenco dances. Performers involved are not limited to dancers, but include guitarists and singers as well.
Carlota Santana, who started the dance group in 1983 with a fellow dancer and choreographer, said the residency has made her feel like Kaatsbaan is a second home away from the group’s center in Madrid. “We live in Tivoli and at Kaatsbaan for two weeks,” Santana explained. “We perform, rehearse, work on lighting and sound and all kinds of stage direction, getting those things ready to go on tour.”
According to Santana, the motivation behind starting the group was to “push the envelope, doing modern, besides traditional, flamenco.” But Santana considers the performance’s most entrancing piece to be the guajira, a traditional flamenco dance for which its dancer wears the bata de cola. The bata de cola is a dress with a long train that demands the expertise of a master. Santana explained that dancers of the guajira must take specific classes to learn not only how to dance around the dress’s tail, but to use it as a tool, incorporating it into the dance’s fiery movements. “It’s a very special technique,” said Santana, “and it’s something new and different that people may not have seen before.”
The element of the exotic is part of the group’s artistic mission, which Santana said is to introduce the dance form to those unfamiliar to it, and to “let them understand that it’s an important part of Hispanic culture.”
Along with its cultural steeping, Santana feels flamenco performance is an outlet to be used by both dancers and audience members. “Flamenco allows dancers to express themselves, and I think audience members respond to that,” Santana said. To the emotionally hungry, whom Santana considers to be anyone, really, flamenco is not just a source of entertainment, but of individual satisfaction. “I think the most important part of flamenco is its emotional expression, which is universal,” Santana said. “Everybody is happy, sad, angry, or jealous maybe. You see all these things in flamenco.”
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana will perform at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center on Saturday, November 22 at 7:30 pm and on Sunday, November 23 at 2:30pm. Tables can be reserved for $30, and seated tickets can be purchased for $25. Students may purchase tickets at the door for $10. (845) 757-5106; www.kaatsbaan.org.