An Evening of Flamenco and Hawaiian dance opens the California Performing Arts Festival Wednesday.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
When people think of dance, they might think first of feet. However, the performers of ADITI and of Kehau''s Hula Ohana, performing together next Wednesday as the opening show of the California Performing Arts Festival, would like audiences to ponder hands. Their performance-"Hands Across Time: Dances to Laka & Shiva, Kali & Pele"-will combine Jondo-Flamenco and Hawaiian traditional dance.
Alicia Morena, who established the ADITI Foundation three years ago, describes Jondo-Flamenco as ethnic classical dance from early Spain: "el principio del gitano," origin of the Gypsy. It portrays "memories of a first culture, a people looking for freedoms," she says.
Flamenco is experiencing a wave of popularity, but new fans aren''t always knowledgeable about the discipline. At gigs where ADITI guitarist Bill Gibson has played over the last several years, he''s found that the flamenco guitar is in demand-sort of. "Everywhere I''d play, people would say, ''Do you know any...flamingo?''"
Actually, it is only in about the last hundred years that the flamenco guitar came into being. Flamenco began strictly as a vocal and dance form. "The gypsies were roamers, so they sang, they danced," says Gibson, who now also serves as a vice-president of the ADITI Foundation. "Without question, if there''s a guitar and a dancer, the guitar is following the dancer."
While combining such a tradition with Hawaiian dance may seem far-fetched, Flamenco and Hawaiian dance actually share the common ancestral home of India. Just this kind of cultural connection is what Alicia Morena and ADITI are trying to promote. ADITI (the word is Sanskrit for "creative abundance") is not just a dance troupe, according to Morena. It is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to the survival of arts and the celebration of diversity in Monterey County. "Dance," says Morena, "is the original communication."
With ADITI, Morena means to preserve and represent a deep tradition learned directly from the masters of these ethnic arts, a goal she shares with Regina Redira, head of Kehau''s Hula Ohana. Redira has introduced over 100 students into the cultural secrets of Polynesian dance, working from her place in a long line of traditional teachers. The musicians who will accompany Redira in next Wednesday''s show are called "Sons of Mapuana," so named in honor of Redira''s first hula teacher.
Redira describes the California Performing Arts Festival production, which will mark the sixth collaboration between her group and ADITI, as an on-stage collaboration. " [Alicia''s] doing her flamenco and she''ll freeze and then I answer her back...[Finally,] our hands kind of go over the border of the middle line and all of a sudden she''s in my world and I''m in her world." Of the concept''s origin, Redira says, "Believe it or not, it started at Paris Bakery over a croissant and a latte."
ADITI has performed before as part of the six-year-old festival, known until this year as the Carmel Performing Arts Festival. To be asked back, particularly in consecutive years, is an honor not extended to many groups, according to CPAF producing manager Hattie Catania. Festival organizers wanted to give ADITI the opportunity to showcase their talents on a grander scale and expand the shows the dancers had offered free of charge in past years.
"Hands Across Time" will be performed Oct. 16 at 7:30pm at ARIEL Theatrical in Salinas, and again on Oct. 26 at 8:00pm at Robert Down Theater in Pacific Grove. $15 general, $10 student, teacher, senior, military; $5 child. For tickets or information on the California Performing Arts Festival call 642-9049 or visit www.californiafest.org.