By Indrani Kar
Only in Calgary would things like jazz shows and flamenco dance still be considered avant-garde. But since it is, why not take advantage of it! There is a special quality and ambiance to dance productions that are a bit off-the-radar in even well-known genres that isn’t always evident amidst better-known dance companies. Some artists in this city have dedicated themselves entirely to developing in a genre that few might consider delving into. That genre, in this case, would be flamenco. Rosanna Terracciano and her sister Graziella have been involved in the dance scene in Calgary for some years now, either by virtue of advanced training and teaching, or producing their own work in the form of choreographing dance shows and fundraisers based on dance. Rosanna is the main dancer in the show and is herself an alumna of the University of Calgary–in Civil Engineering no less–and returned here subsequently to study contemporary dance.
My Flamenco: A Dancer, Her City, and Her Art encapsulates some of what can be great about the very low-key Calgary arts scene–it’s fun, sometimes irreverent, and often moving. This is the duo’s fourth foray into dance production in our fine city and includes collaborations with musicians David Matyas (flamenco guitar), Erin Beach (cello), Andrew Cull (percussion), Jay Stanley (trombone), as well as filmmaker Ramin Eshraghi-Yasdi and contemporary dancer and choreographer Taryn Javier. The Terraccianos and Matyas have all spent extensive sojourns in Spain to hone their respective crafts. Hence we are not dealing with amateurs but rather trained and inspired artists that bring with them both international and fusion-inspired perspectives.
My Flamenco uses the media of dance, music, and film to convey one artist’s journey of flamenco in Calgary. Interspersed within each dance piece are short film clips of Rosanna in elaborate flamenco vestments posing in downtown Calgary, at bus stops and in cafes, while passers-by look on or ignore as though they are protecting themselves from the ranting of a homeless person. This adds a bit of comic and ironic interlude, a testament to a city that is often belligerently ignorant of artists or anything a bit outside of what is considered normal, often a failure to even acknowledge what is out of the ordinary.
Along with this unique use of film there are of course the dance pieces themselves. The four pieces in this show are all quite minimalist in presentation but rife with expression. The passionate Spanish music and singing itself are almost enough to tell each story, but the dance adds a deeper component that brings out the audience’s pathos. Most notable in their funerary expression of anguish are the pieces Peteneras: The Story of an Outcast and Siguriyas: A Graveside Song. In contrast, Alegrias: Joy and Celebration is a party song, one can almost imagine someone bringing out a blindfold and piÃ±ata and it’s very difficult to not join in on the performer’s clapping and revelry of an unknown fÃªte. Farruca is a contrast piece in that it is actually traditionally danced by men. The piece begins with Rosanna changing into a men’s Spanish dance costume onstage while one of the short film clips plays on in the background. She dances the whole piece in this outfit while examining a hanging flamenco dress in the foreground of the stage.
Though this particular production has had a very short run, the Terraccianos will doubtless be collaborating again on future flamenco shows. Posters for this last production were advertising at the U of C, but those unlucky enough to have missed them and this show need only wait for their next production.
For more information on future productions, check out www.rosannaflamenco.com.