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Compañía Azul

Photo by Paul Vienneau
Fans of flamenco are in for a real treat this weekend as Compañía Azul takes over the Neptune Studio Theatre on Friday and Saturday night for two soirees of Spanish passion. Recently AE spoke with one of the troupe’s principal dancers Sandra Bornemann about what audiences can expect to experience.

What got you into flamenco?
I have always loved dancing and have studied dance since the age of 4. However, the first time I saw flamenco dance, I was blown away! The passion, rhythms, unapologetic emotions and brazen attitude - it drew me in and I craved more. Initially I was too intimidated by the complex hand movements and footwork technique to try it out myself. Eventually however, in my mid-twenties I found a flamenco school and began taking classes. That was 8 years ago and there's been no looking back!

Are they the same reasons you do it today?
Definitely! And the reasons I do it have only increased with time. I love the power and confidence embedded within the femininity of the movements. I love that deep emotion and strength are intertwined.  I love that there is no body ideal or age limit in flamenco dance and that flamenco dancers are rather considered to improve with age. Additionally, through teaching flamenco dance in Halifax and now in the Annapolis Valley, I love that I have the opportunity to meet and connect with many amazing people who are drawn to the art form for many of the same reasons as myself.

What are the challenges involved?
Flamenco is certainly a demanding art form - and finding ample time to dedicate to the study and training of flamenco can be challenging, especially now that I have a young child at home. There are also physical demands (I have lost my fair share of toenails!) that present challenges But at the same time flamenco has also given me the ability to build strength both in body and character that I never had before. 

What are the rewards?
Flamenco has proved to be an incredible physical and emotional outlet! Having flamenco in my life has allowed me to explore deep emotions and push my body to its limits, while at the same time also keeping me grounded and functional. 

“I love the power and confidence embedded within the femininity of the movements. I love that deep emotion and strength are intertwined.  I love that there is no body ideal or age limit in flamenco dance and that flamenco dancers are rather considered to improve with age.”

Why so long between performances for you?
Although it has been just over a year since performing in Halifax, in that time Compañía Azul has had the opportunity to showcase performances across the country. Additionally, the time in between our Halifax shows has been spent both in bringing our existing material to the next level as well as working on creating new material.  I personally am very much in awe of Megan and the musicians in the group (Dan, Bob, Sean and Ian) who have all worked so hard in creating new original music and choreography for this performance. I know that we are all excited to be sharing that work with audiences at these upcoming shows.

What can audiences expect this weekend?
Eighty minutes of beauty, intensity, strength and passion. 

What is the response like generally from audiences?
Incredible! I find that many people are moved by flamenco music and dance much as I always have been, and responses are usually overwhelmingly positive. My favourite performances are when audience members are so inspired by the music and rhythms that they join in with shouts of "Ole!"

Are we doing enough to promote flamenco here in Halifax and Atlantic Canada?
I have been impressed by the ever increasing interest in flamenco across Atlantic Canada and am thrilled to see sold-out shows and seats filled with engaged audience members.

What can we be doing better?
More opportunities for flamenco! I find that I still run into many people who do not know what to expect from a flamenco performance. The more that flamenco music and dance can be showcased and shared with audiences, the better!

What's next on your agenda?
I have already begun working on new ideas and pieces to add to Compañía Azul's repertoire for future performances. As we continue with that work for our next show(s) as a group, I will also be focusing on teaching flamenco dance classes in Wolfville, NS (my hometown) and building further opportunities for flamenco dance here in the Annapolis Valley.

Compañía Azul
Friday, September 20 & Saturday, September 21, 8pm
Neptune Studio Theatre, Halifax

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