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Ironton Council for the Arts presents ‘Flamenco Louisville’

November 16, 2018

IRONTON — The Ironton Council for the Arts presents “Flamenco Louisville,” which showcases the art of Spanish dance and music, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, in the Ironton High School Auditorium.

Admission is $10 and tickets are available at the door. Ohio University students are admitted free with valid ID.

The Flamenco Louisville company was founded almost 10 years ago by dancers from the freshly dissolved Ballet Espanyol.

Today the company is headed by founder/co-director Diana Dinicola and codirector Paula Collins. While Flamenco has never quite reached the level of popularity in America that ballet and other forms of dance have enjoyed, there are vibrant pockets of music and dance in cities and towns all over the country.

Flamenco grew organically out of folk dances and music in the Andalusian region of Spain, says Paul Carney, guitarist with the group. The exact history is not known, but it’s generally accepted that Flamenco was first practiced by Romany people in Spain, most likely around small campfires.

The grassroots beginnings may be one of the reasons Flamenco culture hasn’t enjoyed the commercial success and wide recognition some other art forms have, but it may also be due to a confusion outsiders feel when approaching the dance for the first time.

Is Flamenco the music or the dance? What do all these Spanish words mean? Are the performers improvising, or is this a set piece? Why is the audience yelling at the dancers?

Some forms of dance are performative in nature, while others, like Flamenco, are participatory.

Flamenco Louisville often performs at schools around Kentucky and Indiana, and they typically begin with a short vocabulary lesson. The performance is called a tablao.

There will be a guitar solo or two, some vocal performances and six or seven dances, which may be accompanied by guitar, percussion, vocals or all three.

In some ways, it’s the closeness between the performers that makes Flamenco so special. This group — the dancers, musicians and vocalists — is called the cuadro. Each member of the cuadro has a special name.

The toque is the guitar, the cante is the song, the baile is the dance. What they create together is a mixture of improvisation and practiced movements and rhythm.

Flamenco Louisville also gives a short lesson on audience participation so students can catch the spirit of the performance and contribute their own jaleos (cheers of encouragement).

If you go to the tablao this weekend, you may hear any number of jaleos, but some classics are “oleV’ “vamo” (go!), “eso es” (that’s it) and, if there is a particularly fierce piece of footwork, you may hear shouts of “agua” (water). This playfully suggests the feet of the dancer are on fire.

Some Flamenco groups around the world have taken on the more formal settings and spectacle of ballet and musical theater to put on grand concerts.

According to Carney, Flamenco Louisville feels their art is most at home in small venues. They prefer to keep the spirit of those Romany campfires alive.

“When it all works together, it’s a leaderless form,” says Carney.

— Excerpted from ’Insider Louisville,” Nov. 7, 2018

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