photo credit: Contigo Photos + Films
photo credit: Contigo Photos + Films

Pasion y Arte, Anatomy of a Tablao, Nov. 19 & 20

Pasión y Arte (PyA), Philadelphia’s premier all-female flamenco dance company, is pleased to present Anatomy of a Tablao. Taking place November 19th and 20th at the Asian Arts Initiative at 1219 Vine Street, Anatomy of a Tablao will feature a traditional Tablao flamenco performance, including a pre-performance discussion with PyA Artistic Director, Elba Hevia y Vaca, and artists where the various components that make up a Tablao are dissected. Tickets are $35 General Admission; $25 for Students and Seniors. Tickets include one glass of complimentary Spanish wine.

Like the atmosphere once created when beat poets gathered to recite verses, Tablao refers to the casual venues where flamencos showcased their dancing until the art was institutionalized in theatrical performances. Flamenco emerged as a unique art form in the 15th century. Spanish Gypsies (or Roma) danced flamenco privately in their rural homes. The dance gradually migrated from the countryside to the cities in the south of Spain, where Gypsy artists performed on the streets and in plazas. By the 1840s, nightclubs called “Cafes del Cante” began to host flamenco Tablaos, giving flamencos the opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary skills at improvising movement within the confines of strict musical and rhythmic structures. The cafes were the first enterprises to pay flamenco dancers, singers, and musicians and as a result commercial flamenco was born. These performances helped flamenco to grow and introduced non-Gypsy audiences to the art form.

Anatomy of Tablao will recreate the feeling of the original Tablao setting by using the intimacy offered by the Asian Arts Initiative black box theater. This reiteration of Anatomy of Tablao will feature performances by Pasión y Arte artists, including Barbara Martinez, Caron Acuna Olvera, and Hector Martinez (cante), Adrian Alvarado (toque), Alex Shaw (percussion) and dancers Paloma Rios, Elba Cena, and special guest, Phyllis Akinki. The artists Caron Acuna Olvera and Phyllis Akinki will be performing Friday evening only.

Phyllis Akinyi is a Danish-Kenyan dancer, choreographer, performance artist, and dance researcher. Akinyi started studying flamenco in 2004 in her native Copenhagen, before moving to Madrid to further her studies. She has since become a sought after flamenco performer and teacher, and divides her time between Northern Europe and Spain. She works with traditional and experimental flamenco that highlight African and African Diasporic expressions within flamenco. Her general artistic practice investigates the ‘betwixt and between’, or more specifically; the entanglements of movement, culture, and identity, from an anthropological lens of bodies caught in cultural ‘in-betweens’.

During the introductory discussion component, Elba Hevia y Vaca will analyze and break down the various elements found within a Tablao and will highlight how it is that the dancers and musicians communicate with one another throughout their dance. Some of the topics discussed and answered will be: What does one look for in the artists as they communicate with each other with very specific codes? What are these codes? How and when does the artist call the singer? How does the artist decide to call the guitar or close it? How does improvisation work during different sections? What is going on inside of the artists’ mind throughout the different sections of the dance?

A mixture of performance and education, Anatomy of a Tablao will bring audiences closer to the flamenco art form during a lively evening of dance, music, and song.

For 20 years, Pasión y Arte (PyA), Philadelphia’s premier all female contemporary flamenco dance company under the direction of Artistic Director Elba Hevia y Vaca, has been embracing artistic excellence in performance, education and community engagement focused on modern feminist flamenco. Deemed “world class” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pasión y Arte continues to strengthen flamenco’s legacy as a classical form while also expanding the trajectory of modern feminist flamenco through its conservatory classes, performances, and national tours. In ten original productions and its presentation of the 2012 and 2014 Philadelphia Flamenco Festivals, PyA empowers women through self-expression by embracing bold experimentation that challenges traditional flamenco gender stereot

Anatomy of a Tablao Performance
November 19 & 20 at 7:30pm
Runtime: 75 minutes
Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA
Attendees must be vaccinated and wear masks during the performance.
Tickets: $35 General Admission | $25 Students & Seniors
Purchase online at
Tickets include one glass of complimentary Spanish wine.

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