On learning patience, humility, and the art of flamenco
When Rosario Flamenco was founded in 1989 by Rosario Ancer and Victor Kolstee, it was with the aim of creating a platform for flamenco dancers to flourish in Vancouver. Nourishing local talent and supplementing it with guest artists from around the globe, Flamenco Rosario has become known for its spirited, fiery, creative and original performances and collaborations and has developed a loyal following over the past twenty years.
While Rosario Flamenco wows audiences on the stage, much of the work is done behind the scenes at Centro Flamenco, the dance school that Ancer and Kotlsee founded at the same time and provides classes for children, teens and adults. There is also a professional program for select students.
One Centro Flamenco student that has gone on to not only become a principal dancer in the performing company, but an instructor herself, is Nanako Aramaki. When Rosario Flamenco celebrates its 20th Anniversary with the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival June 28 to July 5, Aramaki will be performing in the Local Favourites show that kicks off the event at the Waterfront Theatre as well as at the Vancouver Playhouse performances.
In Her Own Words
Like many young girls you studied piano and ballet. What got you interested in flamenco?
Actually my mother had been taking flamenco lessons from Rosario Ancer for a few years before me and she finally convinced me to take classes when I was 16. I stuck to it because it was so challenging compared to what I was doing up until then: ballet, jazz, and hip hop.
What was it like studying with Rosario at Centro Flamenco?
Rosario is the Mother of flamenco in Western Canada and it’s a great honour to dance under her mentorship. She was very strict at times but has kept me humble. She has taught me not only the beauty of flamenco but also integrity and humility.
Flamenco is a very passionate and rhythmic art form, especially compared to classical Japanese dance for instance. Yet many Japanese seem drawn to it. How do you explain that?
My theory is that the Japanese are very restricted in how they are allowed to express themselves in Japanese society. Flamenco is their excuse and channel of expression. Interestingly, there are more flamenco academies per capita in Japan then anywhere in the world!
What is the first thing you learn when you begin studying flamenco?
Patience. It may be shocking to some who have had previous dance experience, like myself, who are used to picking up dance fast. You won’t pick it up right away and that’s the beauty of it.
What is the most difficult technique or concept to master?
That is hard to pin point. It would be easy to say footwork but I believe it is to dance from your heart. There are so many amazing technical dancers out there and so little that actually feel what they do technically.
In June and July, Rosario Flamenco is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a flamenco festival. Are there any highlights that you personally are looking forward to?
We’re all so excited to have the opportunity to not only study with one of the flamenco goddesses, Isabel Bayón (from Spain), but the honour to perform alongside her and her company (July 4, Vancouver Playhouse). She is a huge name in the flamenco world and I encouraged everyone to come see her performances (July 3 & 4).
What part of the festival would you recommend for readers who want to experience flamenco for the first time?
Come out to see the free performance and lecture demo at the Vancouver Public Library on June 29, 2009. If you end up enjoying that you know it’s worth coming out to all the other events.
Anything else you would like to add?
For those that do come to any of the shows, don’t be shy and shout out “Ole!”
Vancouver International Flamenco Festival
with special guest from Spain Isabel Bayón
June 28 to July 5
Performances, demonstrations, master classes, workshops, exhibits at various venues.
Tickets available at Ticketmaster for the Vancouver Playhouse and Waterfront Theatre events at 604.280.3311 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca
For more Info on the Flamenco Festival and for tickets to the Closing Event and to book the Master Classes / Workshops call: 604.737.1273