Carlota Santana brings fire to the stage.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Most dance performances have serenity as the underlying theme. After all, in modern dance and ballet, mean people do suck.
The exception can be found in flamenco, where stomping your feet and otherwise defiantly strutting your stuff is de rigueur.
If you think you’ve got the huevos for in-your-face folk dancing, check out Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana this Tuesday night at the CSU Monterey Bay World Theater.
The flamenco tradition encompasses all the human emotions, because it started with the songs born of the fiery mixture of Spanish, Arabic, Gypsy and Judaic cultures found in southern Spain more than 200 years ago.
“The singing was crying and screaming and kind of operatic—I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m upset because my boyfriend left me kind of thing,” says Carlota Santana, the trouple’s namesake, co-founder and principal dancer. “On top of that they then put the dance. So, the dance expressed those feelings. It’s about all human emotions. Each dance has a certain emotional quality to it.”
The first half of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana’s performance consists of traditional Spanish dances performed with castanets, backed up by taped orchestral music. The second half includes two guitarists, a singer and a flutist. The show winds up on a modern note with “Bailes de Ida y Vuelta” (“Dances of the Comings and Goings”), a 45-minute opus highlighting the many influences on flamenco, including salsa.
Santana points out that dancers have to be keenly in synch with the music. “People think all you do is get up and put your foot against the ground and make happy or sad faces and you can be a flamenco dancer,” says Santana, who co-founded the group 21-years-ago in New York City. “It’s a very, very difficult artform. You have to go with the music. If you’re a contemporary dancer you put on some music and you can move in and out of the melody that’s playing. But in flamenco you have to be in rhythm.”
Santana also encourages her audiences to live it up. “Here, if you like it, you can yell out an olé!”
You might even want to take any available dancephobic young males to the show. “Boys hate dance, but boys don’t hate flamenco because they can stomp their feet on the floor and make these tough movements and it’s all okay,” says Santana.
Santana is also convinced that watching flamenco boosts self-esteem. She preaches as much when teaching flamenco in schools. “If I’m with a bunch of high school kids, I say, ‘if you go for an interview and you’re kind of round-shouldered, you’re not going to look as good as if you stand in your flamenco position. Put your chest out and stand tall. I bet you’re going to get hired if you walk into your interview like that.’”
Whether you’re looking for work or not, be prepared for
what a night of flamenco could do to an otherwise Casper
Milquetoast personality. “People out in the lobby are throwing
their arms in the air and stamping their feet on the ground
after the show,” warns Santana. “They’re allowed to do that
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana performs 7:30pm Tues at World theater, csU Monterey Bay, 6th AVe., Seaside. $25/general; $22/groups; $10/CSUMB students. 582-4580.