The eight-person troupe of Flamenco Vivo twirls around the Smothers stage during the final group performance, “Sin Fronteras” (Without Borders), on March 21. The finale brought distinct dancers and props together after the performance highlighted the individuals’ initial differences. Photos by Lucian Himes
The fast-footed dancers of the Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana company graced the stage at Smothers Theatre on March 21, showcasing the traditional Spanish art form of flamenco dancing. The company celebrates 40 years of flamenco this year with “FRONTERAS” (Borders), a traveling tour around the United States which aims to honor, invigorate and expand the art of flamenco, according to the Center for the Art’s site.
Sophomore Sofia Reyes said she thoroughly enjoyed Flamenco Vivo’s innovative dance technique and attended the show after gaining interest in the traditional Spanish dance style.
“I tend to forget how many unique live shows are brought to Pepperdine,” Reyes said. “I loved seeing how invested the audience was in the characters the dancers were putting on.”
Through interactions with several elemental props like abanicos de mano (traditional folded hand-held fans) and faldas (flowy flamenco skirts), the company presented 13 distinct dances concerning human division and unity. Flamenco Vivo seeks to understand which is stronger — what divides people, or what unites them, according to their company website.
As the curtains rose on Smothers stage, the eight-person company emerged in all-black dresses and button-downs, with each unique article of clothing adorned with subtle neon lining for contrast.
Two guitarists and two percussionists doubled as singers and accompanied the troupe during the performance. The musicians’ talents supported the dancers’ snappy footwork as they swirled, stomped and spun all around the stage to the audience’s delight.
Flamenco Vivo’s opening number, titled “Encierro, Unidad y División” (Confinement, Unity and Division), showcased the company’s skill sets as a whole. Together, the troupe flowed as a harmonious unit — each dancer’s limb an extension of anothers.
After the troupe’s introductory piece, each dancer was highlighted by their solo performances alongside a predetermined prop. Individuals executed diverse choreography centered around their specific object, donning items like a “sombrero cordobés,” (a wide-brimmed Cordovan hat), and “bastón” (cane) or “manton,” (silk shawl). Through these prop distinctions, the troupe’s solo performances highlighted the humanistic divisions that often separate people from unification.
The troupe finally came back together for the final numbers, respectively titled “Conciliación y Intercambio” (Reconciliation and Exchange), “La Unión” (The Union) and “Sin Fronteras” (Without Borders).
These final numbers reunified the oppositional individuals once more, with each dancer swapping their props with each other to signify a restoration of harmony.
Flamenco dancing is an art form that knows no borders, according to Flamenco Vivo’s show program. Its physical expression is one that brings people together, while also setting them free.
An enchanted audience celebrated the program’s end with claps as the lights came up and they took their final bows.
Rebecca Carson, managing director for the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts, said the show was fantastic and was pleased with the troupe’s first performance at Pepperdine.
“The feedback from the audience was really good,” Carson said. “People appreciated that the troupe took a lot of the traditional elements of flamenco but added a contemporary twist.”
As the troupe travels and continues staging innovative Spanish dance, the company hopes to cultivate a space where, according to the show’s program, “gender is not limiting, religion is inclusive and social hierarchies do not exist.”
Flamenco Vivo seeks to surrender individual attachments that divide and share their values to enrich the lives of the community around them. With four shows in the “FRONTERAS” tour set for spring, the dance troupe will continue exhibiting their technical works in the coming months around the United States.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Emma Ibarra: email@example.com