The passion of Spain’s native dance takes center stage this Saturday night as Flamenco En Rouge brings the heat to the Company House in Halifax. Recently we spoke with Martine Durier-Copp of the troupe about what audiences can expect.
What got you into Flamenco?
There is a universal nature to flamenco, akin to the blues. It speaks of human experiences and emotions in a way that cuts across national boundaries and language. I first saw flamenco in Spain in my late teens, and it left me speechless. The raw emotionality, the drama, the expressiveness resonated in a way that no other art form had. My continued, frequent travels to Spain have only intensified that passion. And, as you may know, Flamenco was declared a Universal World Heritage by UNESCO, underlying its universal appeal!
Are they the same reasons you do it today?
Totally, but with life’s experience, with time and maturity, one can further understand some of the pathos and more tragic elements of flamenco jondo (deep) in a way that perhaps eluded one in the past…
What are the challenges involved?
It is a highly complex and demanding art form, which is very demanding on body, mind, and emotion. It needs to be learned directly from teachers in Spain. Flamenco is transmitted through an oral tradition, and therefore is not “codified” in textbooks or manuals. The only way to truly learn and understand is to study in Spain. There are so many “traditions’ related to how apalo (form) is danced, sung or played on guitar. Each major city in Andalucia has its own style and nuances. A major component is improvisation, but improvisation within established and traditional structures! Again, taught through oral tradition! For a dancer (bailaora), flamenco is demanding in terms of zapateado (rhythmic footwork), with respect to body positioning which is very different from other dance forms, and in terms of the emotionality which must be conveyed. The entire body dances, while supported by complex and technically demanding rhythmic patterns which are produced by the footwork. The baile must convey what is sung in the letras (words). Most importantly, it needs to draw from that great font of history, tradition, collective memory and convey those to audiences in a way that is alive, inspiring, and authentic. For me, flamenco is a deeply spiritual experience.
What are the rewards?
Beyond words! Flamenco nourishes the soul in a way that is difficult to describe. One attains a state of “universality” with the emotions and feelings, words, and music conveyed in a way that must be experienced. Audiences feel it. At the end of a performance, they will be moved and if those emotions have been effectively communicated, there is a “communion” of the spirit.
When did the troupe come together?
Some of us have been together for over ten years!! Interestingly, our guest artist, Irena Dumicz and I go back to over a decade, and then life ‘s circumstances took us to different parts of the country. That is why our October 3rd show is call Flamenco reunion (Reencuentro flamenco). Flamenco en Rouge was born over two years ago, with a shared common vision of musicians and dancers to communicate authentic, traditional flamenco in a way that keeps this art form alive.
What can audiences expect this Saturday night?
Audiences can expect a vibrant, dynamic and colourful show that will showcase the range of flamenco forms – from deeply sorrowful, to playful, to joyful…Irena Dumicz, who has studied flamenco cante and baile in Spain, will be our guest artist, and will perform a beautiful Bolero, a Farruca, and will, of course, accompany the dancers in several pieces.
Is enough being done to promote Flamenco here in Halifax and Atlantic Canada?
There are several schools and students of flamenco here in Nova Scotia. I would like to see more grants available for dancers, singers and musicians to study in Spain. Irena had a Canada Council grant to study in Sevilla for over 6 months. I train annually in Jerez de la Frontera and Algeciras for a month. More funding support for artists would be welcome.
What's next on the troupe's agenda?
We are developing new choreographies, and have quite a busy winter, with several performances lined up….we are always moving on to our next project!!
Flamenco En Rouge
Saturday, October 3, 8pm
The Company House, Halifaxwww.flamencoenrouge.com
Photo Credit; Anne Launcelott