In The Studio: How Flamenco Vivo Uses Dance to Enrich Underserved Communites
Inside the Center for Flamenco Arts, you can hear the rattle of castanets and the sounds of Spanish guitar as Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana works on their upcoming tour of Navidad Flamenca, a holiday show they perform every December in each of the five boroughs of New York City. Their outreach spreads from seniors to children with disabilities and working with young girls and women in empowerment workshops.
We caught up with the Center's director and company dancer, Leslie Roybal, to get an inside look at how Flamenco Vivo continues to reach new audiences through community engagement:
Community outreach is clearly a very integral part of the company's foundation. How did that get started?
Carlota Santana and Roberto Lorca who co-founded Flamenco Vivo in 1983 always felt strongly about arts in education. Carlota would take her boom box with her when she traveled and perform for whoever would engage with her. So now we not only do outreach in schools but with different senior centers and community centers in the New York area, as well as internationally.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana Photo by Christopher Duggan
Why do you think flamenco has that ability to make change on a social and even political level?
Right now there's such a need for this type of outreach, especially because of the changing demographics of the United States and the large population of Spanish-speaking people. And flamenco ties in all of those cultures. It is an art form comprised of Latin American, African, Jewish, Christian and Arabic cultures, and we're all unified by that language.
It's really enriching on all levels because it's not only the dance that touches people but it's the singing and the music that we do that expands the ways in which we can engage with our audiences.
We recently wrote a story on where to find the best flamenco in Spain. Where would you say the best flamenco is in the United States?
There's a such a thriving community of flamenco here in NYC. Any night of the week you could see some form of flamenco! Outside of NYC there are communities emerging everywhere from Minneapolis to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Every dancer knows there's as much magic taking place backstage as there is in what the audience sees onstage. Behind the scenes, it takes a village, says American Ballet Theatre's wig and makeup supervisor, Rena Most. With wig and makeup preparations happening in a studio of their own as the dancers rehearse, Most and her team work to make sure not a single detail is lost.
Dance Magazine recently spoke to Most to find out what actually goes into the hair and makeup looks audiences see on the ABT stage.
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