We sat down with Amelia “La Rubia”, the dancer with Oleaje Flamenco, to learn about the background of flamenco, to hear why she loves flamenco so much, and about what you can expect this Thursday at their show at Resonance. We hope you join us!
Q. Tell us a little about the art form of flamenco. What makes it special, compared to other kinds of music and dance?
A. Flamenco, like many forms of music, arose as an affirmation of life amongst incredible hardship. The primary originators of Flamenco are the Spanish Romani, known as Gitanos, who blended their song and dance forms with other marginalized peoples such as the Sephardic Jews and the Arabs who were all forcibly exiled or converted during the time of the Spanish reconquest. This particular blend of musical genealogies has resulted in a sophisticated and complex rhythmic and melodic art form that is based on improvisation, personality, and authenticity of spirit above all other measures. This unique fire and spirit and building and releasing of energy, together with the form and structures that allow dancers and musicians to improvise and communicate together are all part of what make Flamenco absolutely unique in the world.
Q. How do the musicians and dancers interact with each other while performing?
A. Like a language, there are certain types of phrases, inflections and signals that cue the other musicians and dancers into where the soloist is taking the music. We take turns supporting and taking the lead according to many ever-changing factors. How we choose to play with and adapt to where the music is going will determine the outcome. Even in a planned theater show, we may not really know where we will end up. This is part of the joy and the risk of an improvisational art form- it is born in the moment and may never be repeated the same way twice.
Q. How did Oleaje begin? And how long have you been dancing with the group?
A. We began 10 years ago as a group of musicians and dancers who wanted to create shows together and explore more into Flamenco. The group has shifted and grown a lot over the years, bringing in new performers and familiar faces alike. The one thing that hasn’t changed is our passion for Flamenco and in sharing it.
Q. How did you become interested in flamenco? What drew you to it?
A. Before I did Flamenco, I was dancing in a World Music and Dance group called Children of the Revolution that had Flamenco dance and music. After 10 years of learning to play palmas to accompany the music and dance, I realized Flamenco was absolutely it for me.
Q. Do you have a specific song or performance that is meaningful to you?
A. I love so many of the Flamenco palos (song forms), but my deepest favorite has always been the Solea. In fact, I will be dancing a Solea form on Thursday!
Q. What can audience members at Resonance look forward to on Thursday?
A. A high energy show that will take you on a journey of the senses and the heart. There is nothing quite like the electricity of a live Flamenco show. You just have to experience it firsthand!