World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco

GENRE: Flamenco
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1979

Founded in 1966 by Adela Clara, now directed by Carola Zertuche, Theatre Flamenco was conceived during a flowering of cultural pride in the 1960′s that led to the revival of Latino arts; the company’s purpose was to fill what was then a dearth of Spanish dances in the Bay Area. The first American dance company to stage full productions of Spanish dance in the US, it is one of the oldest dance companies in California. Theatre Flamenco presents an annual performance season in San Francisco, serving as a beacon of cultural pride, a reservoir for diverse traditions of Spanish culture, and a vital source for artistic collaboration. Carola teaches flamenco classes for adults and children at her San Francisco studio.


DANCE ORIGIN: Andalusia, Spain
GENRE: Flamenco
TITLE: Rondeñas Compás
DANCERS: Bianca Rodriguez, Cynthia Sanchez, Radha Svetnicka, Carola Zertuche
MUSICIANS: Roberto Aguilar (guitar), David McLean (guitar), Jesus Montoya (vocals)

Rondeñas Compás presents a flamenco time-machine of sorts, as it looks simultaneously to past and future. Dancers in contemporary dress join vocalist, guitar, and percussion. This new choreography—by Artistic Director Carola Zertuche—reinterprets a famous flamenco cante (song). It redefines the flirtatious language of flamenco, and adds streamlined, strong movements. The dancers expand on traditional flamenco repertoire, playfully creating new
shapes and forms with a bright palette of flamenco abanico fans.

Theatre Flamenco’s performance also honors traditional music as the heart of flamenco performance. Rondeñas has origins in the fandango malagueño, perhaps the oldest fandango known. The musicians in this performance—guitarists Roberto Aguilar and David McLean, and vocalist Jesus Montoya—are inspired by Ramón Montoya’s famous Rondeñas for solo guitar. Montoya (born 1880) performed with flamenco singer Antonio Chacón in Spain’s 19th-century Cafe Cantantes, creating most forms of flamenco cantes. When he composed Rondeñas, Montoya was following the lead of the great Spanish guitarist Julián Arcas (1832 -1882), who created variations on familiar airs. Ramón Montoya introduced arpeggios to flamenco guitar music; his nephew Carlos Montoya made solo flamenco guitar music famous.

Many flamenco songs are older than we know, with sources in old songs of Spanish Gitano/Roma people; Persian-Arab forms; classical Andalusian orchestras of the Islamic Empire; Jewish synagogue chants; Arab forms, like the zayal foundation for the fandango; and Andalusian folk songs. A song style is a palo, each with a typical hand-clapping pattern. Rondeñas has a generally free beat and a returning 3-count compás, or unit of rhythm.


Theatre Flamenco2012 PERFORMANCE

Una Nota Para Dos
Cristina Hall and Carola Zertuche
Jose Valle “Chuscales” (composer/guitar), Alex Conde (piano), Cristo Cortes (vocals), Tregar Otton (violin)

Una Nota Para Dos summons nostalgia for the beauty of the ultra-feminine, with an unusually soft and dreamlike performance of flamenco. The dancers are barefoot and they dress as elegant Spanish women. The dramatic bata de cola dress adds stunning and graceful curves as its long ruffled train lifts and flies around with the dancers. With an air of graceful sensuality, the dancers kick the cola behind them or lift it up into their hands. Spanish fans convey pride and power, as they echo the movement of the skirts and punctuate the rhythms.

The dance form is a milonga. In the Americas, the milonga is known as an Argentine, Uruguayan, and Southern Brazilian form which preceded the tango. In Spanish flamenco, the form musically derives from the Cantes de Ida y Vuelta, literally, the roundtrip songs.

The essence of flamenco is cante, or song. Cantes de Ida y Vuelta are flamenco forms that were born in Spain, carried to Latin America by Spanish immigrants and softened and sculpted by America’s African and Indigenous rhythms. The songs were then carried back to Spain, and reintroduced to flamenco. They are known for their slow and easy rhythms.

The origin of flamenco is traced to the time of the Spanish Inquisition in Andalusia, southern Spain. For centuries, persecuted and marginalized communities of Romani, Greeks, Visigoths, Sephardic Jews, and Moors expressed their suffering, protest, and hope in song. In the nineteenth century, in Spain’s sophisticated cities, flamenco artists gathered in lively Café Cantantes. There, their spontaneous dances evolved into today’s highly-polished art form, a tightly improvised collaboration between dancer, singer, and musicians.


Title: Pasión Flamenca
: Juan Siddi, Carola Zertuche
: Kerensa DeMars, Stephanie Narvaez, Juan Siddi, Carola Zertuche
Roberto Aguilar (guitar), Felix de Lola (vocals)

Pasión Flamenca is an alegrías, a high-spirited flamenco from Spain's Port of Cadíz. This older form is known for its ceremonial entrance, a series of strolling steps to a guitar melody in a minor key. It’s also noted for its zapateado—a rhythmic striking of the toe, sole, and heel of the foot—and its peaceful adagio segment known as silencio. Alegrías show the celebratory side of flamenco: they're danced simply for the joy of the dance. For even more happiness, costume designer Juan Sidi added flowers to the traditional polka-dot lunares.  

In Spain's sophisticated nineteenth century Café Cantantes, flamenco's popularity soared. It was there the cante (song) for this alegría was created. Cantador Ignacio Espeleta created the song, and it's said he invented his signature opening, “Tirititrán tran, tran,...,” one night when he forgot the lyrics. Those lyrics, called coplas, are eight-syllable verses, with a few juguetillos (variations) playfully added.

Juan Siddi and Carola Zertuche created Pasión Flamenca in 2009.


Title: Encuentro
Choreographers/Dancers: Juan Siddi, Carola Zertuche
Felix De Lola (singer), Kerensa DeMars (palmas), Keni “El Lebrijano” (guitar), Cela Luna (palmas)

In Encuentro (Encounter)an enormous red rose adorns the traditional shawl—the mantón de Manila—as a symbol of passionate love. In this flamenca caña, a couple falls in love (or dreams it) and dances an intense and intimate duet, with tightly responsive footwork. When the couple parts, they leave the rose mantón on the stage. So the ending of love is like a death; when the beloved is gone, something beautiful is left behind.

Cuando yo canto la caña
When I sing the caña

El alma pongo en el cante
The soul is in the song

Porque me acuerdo de ella
Because I remember her

Creo que la tengo delante
And I think she is here with me now.

The delicate mantón de Manila is a hand-embroidered silk shawl named for the city of its origin. When Spain colonized the Philippines in the 16th century, Manila became a busy port of call. Spanish workers and aristocracy began wearing dainty shawls made in nearby China, and eventually they brought the style to Seville.

Carola Zertuche and Juan Siddi created and choreographed Encuentro in 2008 for the Juan Siddi Flamenco Theater Company, and performed it in 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico; at the Fountain Theater in Los Angeles; at The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; and at the Cowell Theatre in San Francisco.



TITLE: Al Compas del Tiempo
DANCERS: Roberto Aguilar, Kerenca DeMars, Juan Del Valle, Estefania Narvaez, Marina Scannell, Carola Zertuche
MUSICANS: Pablos Albiac (vocals), Benjamin Woods (composer/flamenco guitar)

Carola Zertuche choreographed the flamenco piece, Al Compas del Tiempo. The music and costumes are traditional, and the piece uses the Cante grande to play with the timing of different eras. Varied flamenco rhythms explore the contradictory demands of modern life—from a frantic rush to the serene nature of contemplation. The dance also comments on contemporary woman—how she risks losing an older sense of feminine ease as she participates in today's fast-paced life.




TITLE: Rodeñas
DANCERS: Melissa Cruz, Kerensa de Mars, Eliza Llewellyn, Estefania Narvaez, Carola Zertuche
MUSICIANS: La Gwen (palmas), El Moreno (singer), Benjamin Woods (guitarist/composer)

There are many different musical forms of flamenco referred to as palos. They are classified by their basic rhythmic pattern, chord progression, and geographic origin. Theatre Flamenco performs a modern version of Rondeñas done in ¾ time from the mountainous region of Ronda in Malaga. The traditional bata de cola (long, elegant dress train) is manipulated with the hands, leg kicks, and turns. The bata is a symbol of extreme adornment and feminine mystery; it requires special skill and artistry to maneuver its heavy ruffles.

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