The First Philadelphia Flamenco Festival

Pasión y Arte, Philadelphia’s all-female flamenco dance company, will host the First Philadelphia Flamenco Festival on March 19-April 1 at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106.  The festival features the work of Rosario Toledo, an internationally renowned Spanish dancer/choreographer, as well as film screenings, master classes, a symposium of expert panelists, and post-performance discussions and receptions.

Performances on Thursday through Sunday will feature Rosario Toledo’s new commissioned work for Pasión y Arte, “Cómplices,” and the US premiere of the highly acclaimed “Del primer paso” performed by Rosario Toledo & Company.  Several free events are offered during the two weeks of The First Philadelphia Flamenco Festival: a symposium, a movie night, and master classes with Toledo at three local universities.

The symposium (March 24th) features expert panelists Robert Browning (founder of the World Music Institute) and Michelle Heffner Hayes (dance faculty at the University of Kansas and former Artistic Director of the Colorado Dance Festival) in conversation with Ms. Toledo.  Flamenco Movie Night (March 26) features a short cut of the work-in-progress documentary, “Inheritors of a Burden,” by Carolina Loyola-Garcia, as well as Lise Raven’s  “El Proceso,” a short documentary on PyA’s residency and collaboration with Toledo.  Also, three free Master Classes with Rosario Toledo will be offered at Temple University (March 19), Swarthmore College (March 27), and Bryn Mawr College (March 28): pre-registration required.

Tickets to the performances are $25 General Admission/$18 Student/Children/Dance Professionals and $15 for groups of 10+, and are available by calling 215-921-8126, by website: or at

Photo credit: Mike Hurwitz

The hosting company, Pasión y Arte, is an all-female flamenco dance company created by Executive/Artistic Director Elba Hevia y Vaca in 2000.  Hevia y Vaca is compelled to create challenging, provocative, innovative and original works of flamenco with the goals of preserving and strengthening the tradition while empowering women.  Her work, though deeply steeped in the rigorous study of the Old World culture of flamenco baile (dance), cante (deep song), and toque (guitar), also incorporates New World flamenco practices and a feminist sensibility. Through performance and residency activities, Pasión y Arte fosters a unique awareness of women’s presence, practice, and content in a form that has been dominated by male performers since the 15th century. Pasión y Arte’s work is a contemporary manifestation of the Flamenco tradition moving towards a new aesthetic—Neo-Flamenco.

“Pasión y Arte has achieved a reputation for staging groundbreaking contemporary Flamenco dances deeply steeped in the traditions and teachings of masters in Southern Spain, while simultaneously addressing the role of women,” said Artistic Director Elba Hevia y Vaca, who founded the company in 2000. “This Festival will advance Pasión y Arte’s mission to bring the flamenco tradition into the 21st century.”

Rosario Toledo is an innovator.  A master dance artist, she re-imagines traditional flamenco through layered storytelling and humor, challenging the limitations of gender roles.  Initially trained in Spanish dance and Classical ballet in the Conservatory of Dance in her hometown of Cadiz, Rosario Toledo graduated from the prestigious Conservatory of Dance in Sevilla.  She began her professional career in a production of Charo Cruz in 1994, and the following year performed with Manuela Carrasco, a major accomplishment for a young dancer. Toledo has worked with top flamenco artists, including Israel Galvan, Antonio Canales, Javier Latorre, Eva la Yerbabuena, Belen Maya, Manuela Carrasco, and El Guito, among others. She has collaborated with internationally renowned singers and musicians such as Jose Merce, Miguel Poveda, Duquentde, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, and Arcangel.

“Rosario’s approach to flamenco creation is unique and modernistic, utilizing other movement techniques and styles to create a personal vocabulary that re-imagines flamenco,” explains Hevia y Vaca.  “Her probing of borders between flamenco, ballet, modern dance, theater, and performance art will deepen the Philadelphia community’s appreciation and understanding of the trajectory of modern flamenco.”

Toledo’s approach has been lauded internationally.  In 1998, Toledo won two awards at the 15th National Flamenco Art Competition in Cordova, and performed at the 10th Bienal de Flamenco in Sevilla—the latter in a production by the renowned dancer, choreographer and director, Mario Maya. Toledo is frequently invited to share her immense talent across the globe; she performed a series of solo performances with Joaquín Grilo, Javier Barón, and Israel Galvan in locations such as Tokyo and Paris.  Toledo’s dance and choreographic work has been seen at numerous international festivals and venues, including the Biennial of the Art of Flamenco in Sevilla; the Festival de Jerez in Cadiz; the Festival of Ciutat Vella in Barcelona; the Crec of Barcelona; the Festival of Flamenco in Monterrey, Mexico; the House of Culture in Paris, France; the Teatro Central de Sevilla; the Centro Cultural del Monte in Spain; the Gran Teatro Falla in Cadiz; the Festival Grec of Barcelona; the International Festival in Volubilis, Morocco; and the Wuppertal Festival, Germany.

Photo credit: Mike Hurwitz

(Christ Church Neighborhood House, unless otherwise noted)


Thursday*-Saturday, March 22nd -24th, 8pm

Sunday, March 25th, 3pm

*Thursday, March 22nd, 2012: Opening Night Post-performance reception to



Monday, March 19th, 11:20-12:50pm, Temple University  


Thursday-Saturday, March 29th -31st, 8pm

Sunday, April 1st, 3pm

         SYMPOSIUM (followed by reception) FREE and open to the community

Saturday, March 24th, 5:30pm

FLAMENCO MOVIE NIGHT FREE and open to the community

Monday, March 26th, 7:30-9pm, Christ Church Neighborhood House


Tuesday, March 27th, 1:15-2:45pm, Swarthmore College

Wednesday, March 28th, 7-9:00pm, Bryn Mawr College


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