While today’s lively spirited Flamenco often has us wanting to shout ‘Ole!’, it turns out its roots stem from a nomadic culture that has experienced poverty and homelessness.
“Flamenco comes from a nomadic people who came from the south of Spain — some people refer to them as Roma or Gypsies. These people were landless and homeless. The background of the dance and music, the percussion is all hand-clapping and foot noises because the didn’t have any money,” said Lia Grainger, who is artistic director and principal dancer with Fin De Fiesta Flamenco.
At the time of our interview last week, Grainger was in Vancouver rehearsing for Fin de Fiesta Flamenco’s first ever tour of B.C. Joining the group will be two Vancouver-based Flamenco dancers Michelle Harding and Maria Avila.
“I know Michelle and Maria from living in Vancouver and dancing here with different Flamenco dancers in B.C. seven or eight years ago.”
In fact, it was in Vancouver that Grainger got her first taste of Flamenco. A former athlete and journalist, Grainger said she was looking to add something more creative into her life.
“I really loved the idea of dance, but I thought, ‘What can I do? I’m already 20.’” she said. It was at Kino Cafe in Vancouver that Grainger was able to watch a well-known Flamenco dancer perform. “Her performance gave me goosebumps.”
It was soon after this that Grainger started taking Flamenco classes. She did this for a year before going to Spain to immerse herself in Flamenco for six months.
“I came home and started performing and then just kept going back to Spain. The thing is, the more you know about Flamenco, the more you know you don’t know. A lot of it is improvisation and communication between the musicians and the dancers,” Grainger said.
When asked what inspired her to commit to Flamenco full time, Grainger points out she isn’t the first person to make this art form into a career.
“It kind of becomes an addiction, a way of life,” she tells me. “It’s not something you learn and take classes in (although you can). For many people it becomes who you are.
“It’s what I want to do. It’s a really passionate and intense art form. Basically the way I feel when I do it is more rewarding than anything else I do. When I’m performing, there’s this emotional involvement and exchange between the performer and the audience.”
The Fin de Fiesta Flamenco ensemble, including guitarist Dennis Duffin, will be appearing in Revelstoke on August 7 at the Revelstoke United Church along with a wide range of talented guest artists from across the United States and Canada. This tour features acclaimed dancers Michelle Harding and Maria Avila, Los Angeles-based singer Daniel Azcarate, and flautist Lara Wong.
Tickets are $17. Show starts at 7 p.m.