DANCE ORIGIN: Spain
TITLE: Caminando a Zaafra
Caminando a Zaafra—Walking to Zaafra, begins with a contemporary flamenco number, choreographed for the stage. Then the dancers begin to sing in unison, as they walk down a Spanish road—
Camino la feria Zaafra
caminanan dos Extremeñas
van vendiendo sus canastas
Traveling to the Zaafra fair
are walking two women from Extremeña
to sell their baskets
—and they sing themselves into the past, into the small town of Zaafra, where the feeling is decidedly different. In friendship and close community, the dancers transition to the traditional flamenco form. Graceful dance, zapateado footwork, clapping of palmas, and cante song are all improvised on the spot. The result is an intimate conversation between melody and movement, dancer, singer, musician, and audience. The spontaneity and passion of this performance speaks to flamenco’s origins. The dance developed as a form of soulful protest among Spain’s fifteenth century marginalized communities of Romani, Sephardic, Byzantine, Spanish, and Moors.
Caminando a Zaafra is performed in the style of jaleo extremeños from Extremadura in western Spain. Poor and sparsely populated, Extremadura is known for its flamenco and tango and for a relatively large population of Roma people. Jaleos Extremeños is an archaic song style that is not usually danced. Its songs have resurfaced among the region’s Romani singers, and have been popularized by Porrina de Badajoz, Ramon Porrina “El Portugese”, and Guadiana. The songs are party songs usually accompanied by palm-clapping and cries of encouragement and admiration— with lyrics about love, working, traveling, and being together in family. The style is related to the palo bulería, with a monotone cadence and a relaxed 12-beat scheme with 6-beat and 3-beat sections. In this piece, the dancers sing together, unusual in flamenco performance.
Yaelisa choreographed the piece, with soloists creating their parts. Jason McGuire “El Rubio,” accompanies on cajón, a traditional box instrument. Special guest singer Kina Mendez is from the Mendez dynasty of flamencos in Jerez, Spain: she carries a long tradition.
TITLE: Contratiempo…A La Luz De La Luna
TITLE OF PIECE: Sol
Andalucia in particular is experiencing a renaissance. This in part is due to the booming business that flamenco has become. Foreign students flock to flamenco studios and international festivals, vendors of flamenco music, costumes and shoes sell their wares the world over. New forms of flamenco are emerging with the Spanish youth wishing to extend the boundaries of flamenco and mixing it with jazz, Latin and African music. The latest form to hit the music industry is chambao, which combines relaxed flamenco with electronic "chill out" music, exploring the passionate qualities of ambient sound.
Yaelisa's Sol y Viento draws on traditional flamenco movement vocabulary but transforms it by placing it in a modern choreographic setting and by using chambao music. The piece explores the sensuality and playfulness of women, while connecting to the qualities of chambao music — smooth fluidity and images of nature, the sun and the wind.