The Esencia del Flamenco is in the air

The Flamenco Louisville dance troupe is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Derryberry Auditorium stage. Co-founder Diana Dinicola is leading a quick-start introduction to Flamenco dance workshop open to all students at 11 a.m. Tuesday on the Derryberry Auditorium stage. “This Spanish dance form is an exciting way to express your feelings with beauty and strength,” Dinicola said.

“La Esencia del Flamenco” is a 90 minute to two-hour production that includes two or three musicians, one or two singers, and three to six dancers. The performance showcases cante (singing), baile (dancing), and toca (playing of musical instruments) and incorporates elements of melody, poetry, rhythm, and movement. The performers utilize fans, shawls, hats, and castanets during their shows.

“The costuming is great. It’s a very important part of it,” said Leslie Burk, history department secretary, whose idea it was to bring Flamenco Louisville to Tech.

“La Esencia del Flamenco” includes original works and “pieces created from the shared imaginations of some of the great living masters of the form,” according to Flamenco Louisville’s promotional package.

The workshop begins with a short Flamenco dance demonstration before attendees try the moves themselves. Flamenco dance elements for men and women are covered.

Brazeo: arms and upper-body movement

Zapateado: footwork

Compas: Flamenco’s rhythmic underpinning

The structural path toward improvisation

These elements will be combined into a short choreography.

“Bring your creative self, your cultural curiosity and get ready to shout ‘Ole!’,” Dinicola said.

Workshop participants are urged to wear the proper shoes. Shoes with a stable heel and a secure instep strap are ideal, as are character shoes, a dance shoe similar to heeled mary janes. Ankle boots or cowboy boots are also acceptable. Do not wear flip flops or tennis shoes. Going barefoot is also not allowed.

“The class will offer a taste of culture and a dance for both men and women,” Burk said. “It really promotes being connected to your body.”

Traditionally, female Flamenco dancers wear a full skirt while performing, and you are encouraged to do so for the workshop.

Flamenco dance and music originated in the Andalusian region of Spain. It is a blend of native Andalusian, Islamic, Sephardic, and Gypsy cultures with Latin American and Cuban influences. There are more than 50 Flamenco music styles, palos flamencos, classified by such criteria as basic rhythmic pattern and geographic origin.

“It’s a complex art form,” Burk said. “It’s beautiful to watch, challenging to do, but so rewarding.”

Dinicola has an advanced-level intensive training diploma from the Cristina Heeren Flamenco Art Foundation in Sevilla, Spain and returns to Spain for continued training annually. She is a Flamenco Louisville co-founder and an active educator who teaches Flamenco dance in Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, and the surrounding cities, as well as for Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts.

“I saw [Diana] perform and studied with her in a workshop she sponsored. It was clear to me that she was excellent at what she does.”

More than five years later, Burk began trying to bring the troupe here, working with Center Stage as a member of the programming and publicity subcommittee for the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

“I study Flamenco and am interested in it,” Burk said. “It made sense for Center Stage because they focus on cultural subjects.”

This is a Center Stage event hosted by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, which provides educational opportunities about specific issues and events that enhance a general awareness and appreciation for diversity on campus. The commission also promotes an awareness of women’s issues and oversees Tech’s Women’s Center.