Posted in Arts

A few firsts at this year’s Flamenco Festival

Festival artistic director Rosario Ancer on what’s new, and why the festival has thrived for 26 years

Rosario Ancer, artistic director of the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, is brimming with enthusiasm for this 26th year of the festival. She is most excited about the range of performances and the international guest artists.  

The headliner at this year’s festival is the Mercedes Amaya Company, which will be performing Templanza at the Vancouver Playhouse on September 16 and 17. This show marks the first time the festival will see the Spanish Gypsy style of flamenco. Ancer explained that each year she tries to bring a different style of flamenco to the festival, and to alternate between traditional and experimental styles when deciding which international artists to invite.

Ancer said that, in interviews, Mercedes Amaya explained she didn’t have to learn flamenco: she has been surrounded by it since she was born, and her whole family is involved in flamenco. Amaya comes from a long line of “flamenco royalty,” as Ancer put it, explaining that her aunt is the great Carmen Amaya. Her husband and son are both flamenco guitarists, and her daughter is a dancer, so the family tradition will continue.  

New at the Playhouse this year, there will be a silent auction featuring flamenco-related pieces of art by Salt Spring Island artists, as well as one piece by Ancer’s husband, photographer and flamenco guitarist Victor Kolstee.

On September 16, ¡Arte! Flamenco, a company from Saskatoon, will open for the Mercedes Amaya Company. On September 17, Ancer’s own Flamenco Rosario will perform Flamenqueando, which translates to “flamenco-ing”; this refers to a playful, improvisational style where the performers have fun and express the pure joy of dance, song, and flamenco culture. Ancer said she is very proud of this show, which will see three generations of her students on stage.

Another first for this year’s festival is performance in studio. Local group Toque Flamenco will perform Bajo la Influencia at the Centro Flamenco for an intimate show. Their flamenco music is inspired by rock classics by artists such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Kansas, U2, and the Police. Ancer described this show as “flamenco with a twist.”

Presenting the contemporary side of flamenco is Calgary’s Rosanna Terracciano. Her show on September 15, We All Need to Say GOODBYE/ADIOS, is a personal, reflective exploration of loss. She incorporates objects used in traditional flamenco into her performance.

For anyone who is brand new to flamenco, there are a couple of free events not to be missed: an introductory dance class on September 17 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre and a lecture called “Understanding Flamenco” at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library on September 13.

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