Who says flamenco needs to be stuck in its 18th-century Andalusian roots? Like any other art form, this dance could die on the vine without contemporary refertilization. That's why Directo al Corazon (Straight to the Heart), an original piece from Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, is such a fresh take on a classic model.
Ballet Flamenco is a local troupe, founded by University of Miami theater grad Ilisa Rosal, that combines a different mix of musicians, dancers, and styles from both sides of the Atlantic for each of its performances. For this Arsht Center for the Performing Arts premiere, Rosal has -- loosely -- scripted and choreographed a work based on Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, a unique combo of Scandinavia and Sevilla, theater and dance.
"Plays like this are not often interpreted in flamenco," says Rosal during a practice break. "I have a background in theater, and something like this has been in the back of my mind for years."
Her company has danced pure versions of the Spanish dance in what are
called tablaos, or small flamenco clubs in Little Havana, as well as
contemporary variants on international stages.
After Rosal settled on
this latest idea, she took off for Spain. That's where she found the
guitarists -- the music would guide the rest of the performance. "I had a
script, then music, then the dancers started to improvise from both,"
she explains. "There are no real lyrics in dance; the movement needs
to tell the story." She says this is an organic process -- the dancers
and musicians help create the final product. "It's an emotional
development as well ... and with the improvisational quality, it's really
She also landed her star female lead, Spanish flamenco
master La Truco. When it all came together, 19 dancers and musicians
from the United States and Europe combined to make up this particular
troupe -- but the casts are always fluid in Ballet Flamenco La Rosa.
Collaboration and input from various sources is part of Rosal's process.
For instance, last year she created a flamenco ballet based on Macbeth,
which included guest artists from Ireland and the Middle East.
al Corazon is part of the Arsht Center's Arte Flamenco festival, which
will also include a performance based on a Federico Garcia Lorca work
from another locally based company, Siempre Flamenco, called Furia de
Color Flamenco. To underscore flamenco's popularity, in Miami and
globally, the Arsht will host another flamenco fest in March).
al Corazon starts at 8 p.m. for two performances on Thursday, Jan. 12,
and Saturday, Jan. 14; Furia de Color Flamenco starts at 8 p.m. on
Friday, Jan. 13 at the Arsht Center for
the Performing Arts. Tickets cost $38; call
305-949-6722 or go to arshtcenter.org.