Dance Preview: Flamenco Forms

By Garth Paulson

Let’s get something straight right away: this story is about dance. Yes, dance, that devilish series of body gyrations some people do for a living, more people submit to at the bar and everyone does in front of their mirror behind closed doors. Even though we all flail a leg to a good beat if no one’s watching and find ourselves inexplicably doing the robot from time to time, dance still has a hefty stigma attached to it, leaving many befuddled and the rest hesitant to approach it in the same way they would other art forms.

“My approach is that I know it can be intimidating to someone who has no clue what a dance performance is all about,” explains Rosanna Terracciano, co-producer and headlining dancer of Flamenco Forms. “The main thing is to get people to understand that education doesn’t mean that you have to come to this performance and understand everything we’re doing. All that you need is to have an open mind and let yourself experience. Ultimately, it just comes down to basic human emotions, and everybody has them.”

Terracciano’s words are more than mere theorizing, she has discovered dance’s emotional resonance first hand. A few years ago it would be more common to find Terracciano’s contemplating the structural integrity of bridges while studying to become a civil engineer at the University of Calgary than mulling over the intricacies of movement. As soon as she took the leap and enrolled in dance classes she was hooked, to dance in general and to flamenco in particular.

“I was always drawn to it, it was always in my household,” she remarks. “My parents are from southern Italy and there’s always been a fascination of flamenco culture with them. I always had that influence so I always knew I wanted to do it. Once I actually started studying [flamenco] it was just an art form I could really connect to in terms of expression. I was really able to relate to it. It’s a very emotive and sincere art form.”

If you’ve been to university for more that 13 seconds you’re probably scratching your head in bewilderment right now. Engineers aren’t supposed to say words like emotive and sincere and they’re certainly not supposed to be coordinated–much less physically fit–enough to dance at a professional level. Terracciano recognizes the somewhat bizarre position she occupies and thinks she’s all the better for it.

“The thing that I always say about myself in terms of my left brain and my right brain [is that] I’m sort of right in the middle,” she says. “Most people are dominant in that they have access to one side or the other but I’m quite balanced that way. Some days I think it’s a good position to be in. I’m in a unique position to help inform people from one side of the world what it’s like on the other side. When I’m among engineers I can [try to] get them to come out, promote the arts and see what culture is all about in Calgary. Whereas among the arts community I can try to open some eyes about how maybe engineers don’t always fit into a certain stereotype.”

See, accepting dance as a legitimate art form and pursuit isn’t too hard. If Terracciano can unite such disparate fields as engineering and flamenco surely you shouldn’t have much trouble slipping into the robot in front of a few more people and appreciating someone putting your robot to shame on stage.

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