by Marcel W. Foster for The Dance Journal
Philadelphia’s second bi-annual Flamenco Festival will have its two-week run from March 1-16, 2014, boasting a series of lectures, film screenings, master classes and performances by internationally acclaimed contemporary flamenco artists from Spain, Israel and Pastora Galván, and Rosario Toledo.
Presented by Pasión y Arte (PyA), Philadelphia’s premiere all-female flamenco dance-company, the festival will showcase new groundbreaking work by “one of flamenco’s greatest mavericks,” Israel Galván. Galván will present two evenings of solo performances, and two evenings of choreographed solos—which will be danced by his sister, Pastora Galván. Modern-feminist flamenco artist Rosario Toledo will make her triumphant return to Philadelphia by presenting three performances of “TAPAS”, a series of works to be developed by Toledo and performed by Philadelphia-based artists Eun Jung Choi, Meg Foley and Germaine Ingram, during Toledo’s featured residency with PyA. Toledo will additionally perform “Vengo”, a new performance art piece, and “Cómplices”, a piece she originally choreographed for PyA during the 2012 Festival.
The Festival’s educational components, spearheaded by Educational Curator, Michelle Heffner Hayes, PhD, will feature lectures and a symposium led by experts with diverse perspectives on flamenco’s history, traditions, import and trajectory. Structured as an interactive discussion and supported by rich audio and visual examples, the symposium will present the work of dance scholars Lynn Brooks, Ninotchka Bennahum and Meria Goldberg. The Festival will also host screenings of critically acclaimed films that speak to flamenco’s past and present. Post performance reflections will be curated and led by residency consultant/writer Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, PhD. For newcomers, the “Flamenco for Everyone” lecture will instructionally dissect and examine complex rhythms and provide a behind-the-scenes look into the art form. Other educational opportunities include master classes with Ms. Toledo and Ms. Galván, and special master classes with Israel Galván, who has not taught a class in the United States in over a decade.
The 2014 Philadelphia Flamenco Festival is supported by cultural and educational partners throughout the city and beyond. Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University’s Mandell Theater, Longwood Gardens, the Kimmel Center, International House Philadelphia, WHYY, Temple University and the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will all be hosting exciting festival events. Event tickets range from $10-$35 with Festival Passes starting at $90.
“Building on the extremely successful first Philadelphia Flamenco Festival in 2012, this year’s Festival will continue to develop new audiences and understanding of the evolving flamenco art form by bringing internationally renowned flamenco performers/choreographers to Philadelphia,” said PyA Artistic Director, Elba Hevia y Vaca. “We are thrilled to be able to feature the artistry of the Galváns and Rosario Toledo, who, by offering differing perspectives on flamenco’s century’s old aesthetics, keep the form relevant and revitalized in the 21st century.”
Acknowledged worldwide as a major force in revolutionizing flamenco into a serious contemporary art form, Israel Galván was honored with Spain’s prestigious National Dance Award. His work represents a new vision for flamenco. Galván’s work respects the form’s many traditions, but it is also embraces elements of other dance forms. Humor, narrative, and theatricality are additionally added to Galván’s artistry; purposefully expanding the traditional form of flamenco and speaking to new audiences.
Pastora Galván, a key part of the Galván Legacy, is an internationally renowned artist who has been celebrated for her extraordinary skill as a traditional flamenco dancer. In “Pastora”, which will be presented on two separate nights, Ms. Galván disobeys flamenco archetypes of female beauty by embracing ugliness, vulgarity and absurdity. As she digs into the more physically strenuous aspects of Flamenco, vigorously stamping out the zapateado (foot percussion) and exaggerating female characterizations with irony and relish, Ms. Galván uses the character work to bend the frame of dramatic narrative.
Rosario Toledo’s radical investigative work uses humor, theatricality, and deconstructed gender roles with a creative process inspired by phrase work and improvisations. Toledo masters the strict vocabulary of flamenco while re-imagining and re-purposing it in her own distinctly expressive voice. In her continued pursuit of a new, modern flamenco, Ms. Toledo has ardently collaborated with theater artists, modern dancers, and musicians from outside of the flamenco world. The 2014 Festival will host Toledo in a special artist residency in which she will engage the PyA Company and Philadelphia artists from other dance genres in a “dance laboratory”. The collaboration will expand the artistic capacity of each dancer as they create new hybrid forms of expression under the skilled creative direction of Ms. Toledo. The residency will culminate in a series of “TAPAS” performances.
“Rosario’s residency and the Festival will continue our objective to build connections to the new Spanish flamenco masters in order to inform both our region’s audiences and dance community,” continued Hevia y Vaca.
Pasión Y Arte (PyA), founded in 2000 by Elba Hevia y Vaca, seeks to simultaneously challenge, preserve, and strengthen flamenco’s traditions with a deep respect for the form’s classical artistic integrity. PyA pushes flamenco’s boundaries, embracing the tension between modernist and traditional approaches, while drawing from her personal and professional experiences. Using traditional technical flamenco knowledge coupled with the assimilation of other dance forms, mixed media, and explorations into narrative and symbolic story telling, PyA brings new dance approaches to the American flamenco and dance communities, exploring knowledge beyond flamenco’s ancient Gypsy heritage with its strict conventions of dance, production styles, and gender stereotyping. Ms. Hevia y Vaca creates flamenco in a feminist context, re-situating characteristics of strength and dedication, which have historically been centered on the male dancers, musicians, and singers of flamenco. PyA’s mission is to bring the flamenco tradition into the 21st century by addressing the role of women and by exploring avant-garde approaches to the art form.
The 2nd Philadelphia Flamenco Festival has been made possible with support from the James L. Knight Foundation through the Knight Arts Challenge. Nuevo Flamenco: The Galvan Legacy has been supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage as part of the 2nd Philadelphia Flamenco Festival.