World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Pasión Flamenca

DANCE ORIGIN: Spain/ Andalucia
GENRE: Flamenco
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2006

Originating in Andalusia, Southern Spain, flamenco did not become a codified art form until the 18th century. It blends influences from the communities that inhabited the region in earlier centuries, including Romans, Greeks, Visigoths, Sephardic Jews, Moors and Gypsies, with their ancestral Indian heritage. Once considered the most prosperous and cosmopolitan region from Europe to Damascus, Andalusia was a celebrated center of culture, science, and the arts during the Moorish Empire, from 711 to 1492. During the culminating years of the Christian Reconquest of Spain, Andalusia became a turbulent land. The prior period of tolerance rescinded, and remaining Moors and Jews were forced into conversion while Gypsies, who had already arrived in Spain, were further persecuted. By the 16th century, Andalusia became one of the most impoverished areas of Europe where extreme destitution, famine and illiteracy prevailed. It was out of these severe conditions that flamenco arose.

The cante (song) was the first aspect of the art to emerge. It was the soulful expression of impoverished communities of gitanos (Gypsies) and other lower class Andalusians in post-Inquisition Spain. Flamenco became a way to express and transform suffering and maintain dignity in the face of oppression. Capturing the attention of the ruling-class bourgeois, this unabashed form of expression began to emerge from the ghettos. As the art progressed and blended with other Andalusian folk traditions, flamenco moved from clandestine social gatherings to intimate nightclubs, eventually landing on the global world stage and becoming an international phenomenon well loved by audiences the world over.

Artistic director, Mónica, is a leading Bay Area flamenco dance teacher having studied and toured internationally with Spain’s foremost artists including the acclaimed Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company. She began Pasión Flamenca (formerly Arte y Compás) in 1999 to present traditional style tablao (nightclub) flamenco. The company performs throughout the Bay Area and has toured in Hawaii, Alaska and Northern California.


DANCERS: Marina Elana, Lea Kobeli, Sara Moncada, Mónica
MUSICIANS: Ricardo Diaz-Guitarist, Roberto Zamora-Singer

There are many different rhythmic-song forms in flamenco referred to as palos. Tientos, performed in a sustained 4/4 time signature, is majestic, profound and sensual. Believed to have first developed in the port city of Cádiz during the late 1800s, tientos typically ends with the up-tempo Arabic-influenced palo, called tangos. Pasión Flamenca performs a traditional tientos. Most typically done as a solo form, this company transforms it to a group choreography playing with rhythmic calls and responses between dancers, guitarist and palmeros (hand-clappers).

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