“Oh my God, I can see that nun’s underwear!” I remember thinking as the Flamenco dancers fired themselves across the stage, deafening all ears around them with astounding heel-toe impacts upon the floor. Spinning like turbines, they whirled and flipped their dresses, or should I say habits, in every possible direction. No, these were not real nuns, not at all, but part of the poetic performance on the opening night of Lisner Auditorium’s annual Flamenco Festival. This year’s opening brought forth the talent of Sara Baras, Spain’s most celebrated contemporary dancer, noted for her story-driven style of intense ballet Flamenco.
The show is held every year in celebration of Andalucia, the southern region of Spain known for giving birth to the flamenco art of dance and music. This year, the festival brings the talent of Baras, Farruquito, Juana Amaya and Tomatito, performers known internationally for their fiery and intense style of dance and music.
Flamenco itself was born in the tradition of the gypsies that inhabit the Andalucian region of Spain. The region holds a rich cultural history stemming from the Greeks, Visigoths, Arabs, Jews, Romans, gypsies and Phoenicians. This culturally rich and diverse background was a tinderbox during Ferdinand and Isabella’s conquest of Granada, where the persecution, expulsion and execution of such deviant groups as the gypsies was witnessed during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. It was under this harsh reality that flamenco was born, a time when brutality, oppression and repression were commonplace. With such a foundation, the art has earned a reputation for speaking about life’s more harsh realities through the medium of passionate dance and music.
The house was packed opening night and the show ignited a thunderous roar of applause from the audience at every available moment. The Festival is planned to last through Saturday, Feb. 7, in Lisner, offering a beautiful bit of culture packaged in an exciting few days of performances.