World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


La Tania

GENRE: Flamenco
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2002

La Tania is an international flamenco dancer and choreographer. She grew up in Andalusia, Spain, and became a professional dancer in Madrid, performing in traditional tablaos and with Mario Maya, and Paco Peña, and sharing the stage with El Cigala, Javier Baron, Juana Maya, Alejandro Granados, and Belen Maya. In 1993 La Tania moved to the US and toured with her company, earning many awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship; James Irvine Fellowship in Dance; National Endowments for the Arts; and two Bay Area “Izzie” awards. She directs the La Tania Baile Flamenco Company and school.


GENRE: Flamenco
TITLE: Alas Al Viento
Roberto Aguilar (guitar), David McLean (guitar), Jesus Montoya (vocals)

Imagine an evening in the Mediterranean
port of Cadiz. Perhaps you will catch the
scent of the salt sea air, the rustle of the
wind in the sails, the rhythm of the waves,
the seductive rhythm of flamenco...

Flamenco artist La Tania gave the final stage performance of her career with Alas Al Viento, a lively flamenco alegrías from southern coastal Spain. Strong and elegant in her bata de cola dress, La Tania demonstrates expert escobilla footwork, floating and spinning a delicate mantón de Manila shawl. In flamenco, dance and music are one art, a tightly improvised collaboration between dancer, singer, and guitarist.

Flamenco’s elements can be traced to the Spanish Inquisition in Andalusia, where marginalized communities of Romani, Greeks, Visigoths, Sephardic Jews, Africans, and Moors expressed protest and hope in song. Today’s polished form developed in Spain’s sophisticated 19th-century cities. Artists gathered in lively Café Cantantes, shaping spontaneous dances into forms with
choreography and improvisation, and flamenco continued to evolve. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Treasure and is often presented in large theatrical productions.

In Spanish, “alegría” means “happy,” and this palo (song form) with its 12-beat rhythm tends to be happy and loud. The form emerged in Cadiz around 1812, with faster-paced soleá rhythm, influenced by the jota aragonesa style of dance and music during French occupation. Its sections are: the salida entrance; the paseo walking around and/or letra verse; silencio, where adagio guitar invites the dancer to highlight a graceful upper body; castellana, accelerated dancing; escobilla virtuoso footwork; and finally, the Bulerías de Cadiz, where the dancer plays with the traditional song. These lyrics are from the letra/verse section:

Last night at sea
a sailor cried and sang the Soleá/What do you
want from me, even the water that I drink I have
to beg you for...

La Tania’s dress is a style now considered traditional Andalusian. It was adopted at the turn of the 20th century, when Spanish-Romani women wore ruffled calico gowns to the Prado de San Sebastián, the annual Sevilla Fair.


TITLE: Alas al Viento
GENRE: FlamencoAlas al Viento
MUSICIANS: Roberto Aguilar (guitar), Kina Mendez (vocals), Clara Rodriguez (palmas)

La Tania takes us on an intimate flamenco journey entitled Alas al Viento, an excerpt from the suite, Despertar es un Color (Awakening is a Color). Traditional flamenco movements and music blend with modern stylings to create a rousing atmosphere and tell a story of a shared passion for music and dance, and of unexpected cross-cultural communities.

Flamenco’s lamenting lyrics and melancholic melodies are usually traced to 16th-century Andalusian communities, from a people impoverished and marginalized by the Inquisition. This dance and music form echoes indigenous Andalusian or Iberian traditions, the music of Sephardic Jews in Andalucia, Moorish forms, and music developed in the Spanish new world and modified by the Romani. Flamenco songs have distinctive rhythms called palos. Most palos—there are at least sixty-five—have roots in several sources, but they are categorized by their most prominent cultural origin and related rhythms. The style of palo used in Alas al Viento is an Alegrias, from southern Spain.

La Tania’s choreographic style is deeply rooted in traditional music. She says, “I dance to escape the reasoning mind, the intellectual self. I create movement that feels organic, instinctual, musical, and visceral. Dancing is about learning to execute a musical score with your feet and interpreting the nuances of the singing.”

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