A contemporary flamenco concert brings to light African influences of flamenco, with choreography by international artists and live music.
About this Event
November 11, 2023Concerts at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Emory University Performing Arts Studio1804 N Decatur Rd, Atlanta, GA 30322
Featuring Yinka Esi Graves, dance
B. MOORE DANCE, contemporary dance
Alfonso Cid, vocals and flute
Guillermo Guillen, guitar
Flamenco Black is presented during the Atlanta Flamenco Festival. Full festival lineup and details: www.atravesarts.com
A Través proudly presents Flamenco Black during the Atlanta Flamenco Festival. After debuting in Dallas in 2023, this special production will travel to Atlanta, where artists will perform two concerts on November 11, 2023, at Emory University Performing Arts Studio. The concerts feature live flamenco music and singing, as well as choreography by international dancers Yinka Esi Graves, Antonio Arrebola and Bridget Moore. Choreography has also been set by Artistic Director and Producer Delilah Buitròn Arrebola.
Flamenco Black combines the art of flamenco, contemporary dance, and traditions of the African Diaspora. Dances reflect African influences on flamenco in the New World. This important and little-known aspect of flamenco demonstrates – on two sides of the Atlantic Ocean – ways in which communities are connected across geography and history. It is a surprising element of flamenco, an art form that for many is synonymous with Spanish culture and its Moorish and Romani influences.
The idea for Flamenco Black came from a child’s question. Delilah Arrebola, Director of the Flame Foundation, which presents flamenco arts in Dallas, explains that her son, who is Black and Mexican-American, asked why he never saw anyone who looked like him on the flamenco stage. He began dancing flamenco as a young child and has always been surrounded by flamenco artists, including his parents and their Spanish colleagues. Arrebola set out to address her son’s question, and in the process found a world of African influences on flamenco that is exciting because of the immediate answers it brings and the possibilities for expression that it offers for the future. Her discoveries have led to the collaboration among the principal artists, musicians, and company dancers who are bringing this production to the stage.
Flamenco has roots in the African Diaspora, which moved music and dance between the continent of Africa, the places that we now call North and South America, and Spain for hundreds of years. Scholars have connected specific flamenco movements, musical sounds, and communal behaviors to specific traditions of African peoples in the New World. More information about the African influences on flamenco is coming to light, at the same time that the erasure of the history of slavery in Spain is getting attention in Europe. The same interplay of influences is relevant in the southern U.S.A., because similar African influences are present in jazz, hip-hop, and the blues. Understanding how a “Spanish” and “European” art form is part of the African Diaspora, shows how no single artistic expression is born in a single place, but rather emerges through the exchange of ideas that happens when communities come together.
The use of contemporary dance in Flamenco Black is an emerging addition to flamenco styles, one that is now presented frequently in major theaters and festivals in Spain and Europe. Although traditional flamenco is still alive in Spain, the art form has changed as artists pushed the movement and music through new boundaries over decades, based on experimentation and influences that arrive through technology and travel. Artists create new song lyrics, new sounds for the guitar, introduce additional instruments, and even question what to wear on stage as they showcase perspectives of their own generations, farther and farther from flamenco’s origins as its own art form in the mid-1800s. As these changes arrive, few existing styles are abandoned, creating a wide range in the esthetic of flamenco arts. Showing flamenco as part of contemporary dance is important, because it makes flamenco relevant in many artistic circles. It demonstrates how dancers and musicians break apart and reconstruct the components of flamenco to express issues that are important to our lives in the 21st century. Thus, flamenco exists not only in its tight-knit circles of artists and cabales (well-informed flamenco fans), but also thrives in the world of art outside of those boundaries, where dancers and musicians are recognized as modern creatives who are tackling problems through the arts. Specifically, using flamenco with contemporary dance, site-specific performance, and innovative musical changes, including electronic instrumentation and new song lyrics, flamenco artists are starting conversations for audiences about economic crisis, feminism, racism, and accessibility.
Scholarly research now includes the roots of flamenco in the place once called the New World. A Través Executive Director, Julie Galle Baggenstoss, has been researching flamenco history for 20 years and has found gaps in widely available facts about the formation and evolution of the art form. For example, a set of songs and dances called ida y vuelta, were said to have been created after flamenco formed, with influences of songs and dances of Latin America. (Ida y vuelta is a phrase in Spanish that refers to a round trip, as to say the songs developed when flamenco left Spain, went to Latin America, and then returned to Spain with new, Latino influences.) The repertoire of ida y vuelta was considered flamenco ‘lite’ and separate, from the core songs and dances of the art form. However, songs of ida y vuelta were among the first recordings made by Thomas Edison starting in the late 1800s. While there were also other flamenco songs on the recordings, those of ida y vuelta were strongly represented and were sung by some of the prominent artists of the time. Separately, experts mapped much of the flamenco canon to one of the songs of the ida y vuelta group – the guajira. It is one of the very songs on Edison’s recordings. The research shows how the song’s rhythm influenced much of what we now enjoy in flamenco. More scholars have been publishing work that explains how music and dance traditions of the New World influenced the early days of flamenco. Thus, the songs and dances that decades ago were said to have a minor presence in flamenco are actually a major part of the origin story of the rhythms, melodies, and movements that gave rise to the art form as people and their traditions mixed across the Atlantic.
Flamenco Black will be provocative because most people know about the Moorish and Romani influences of flamenco, but not the African roots. A Través hopes the surprises in this performance will be educational while entertaining and that they can help individuals find common ground through (a través de) the arts.
About the principal artists
YINKA ESI GRAVES, CHOREOGRAPHER AND FLAMENCO DANCER
Yinka Esi Graves is a British Flamenco dancer and educator whose choreographic work explores the links between flamenco and other forms of corporeal expression in particular from an African diasporic and contemporary perspective. Having studied ballet and Afro-Cuban dancing in her youth, Ms. Graves has dedicated the last 13 years of her life to flamenco in Madrid and Seville, studying with some of the most important artists in the art form. Having performed flamenco extensively in both the United Kingdom and Spain, Yinka co-founded contemporary flamenco company dotdotdot dance in 2014. The company presented Ms. Graves´ work “I come to my body as a question,” a reimagined song form called guajira with spoken word artist Toni Stuart, in SAMPLED 2017 at Sadler's Wells and The Lowry, following their Wild Card at the Lilian Baylis.
In 2015, Yinka began a collaborative creation named “CLAY,” with former principal Alvin Ailey dancer Asha Thomas. Various European festivals presented the piece, including Dance Umbrella’s ‘Out of the System’ in the UK (2017). Yinka was also featured in Miguel Angel Rosales’ documentary film “Gurumbé:
Canciones de tu Memoria Negra” (2016), the first Spanish film to highlight the influence its African
population had on Spanish culture, particularly flamenco. Yinka has subsequently performed alongside
the film on its tours to the U.S.A., Africa, Latin America, and Europe.
Yinka is currently involved in a number of major productions Chloé Brulé and Marco Vargas’ Cuerpos
Celestes and Origen and Dorothée Disappearing Act, presented by the prestigious Bienal de Flamenco in Seville and at the Nimes Flamenco Festival in 2023.
ANTONIO ARREBOLA, CHOREOGRAPHER
Born in Málaga, Antonio Arrebola began dancing at the age of eight. He trained in flamenco, ballet clásico, and clásico español at the Conservatorio Superior de Danza in Málaga, and studied with prominent flamenco artists in Spain as an emerging artist. Mr. Arrebola has been dancing professionally since the age of 15. In addition to performing in many prominent tablaos in Andalucía, such as the renowned Christina Hoyos Flamenco Museum, Mr. Arrebola has performed throughout North Africa, North America, Japan, and Europe, where he toured with his own company for years. He also worked with the Maria Serrano Company in the popular production “Flamentango” in Canada. Mr. Arrebola headlined the Dallas Flamenco Festival in 2010, 2012, and 2013 and was featured in the Dallas Flamenco Festival and Ochre House Theater’s productions of Perro y Sangre, El Conde Drácula, and Buñuel Descending and Picasso: Matador de Málaga.
BRIDGET L. MOORE, CHOREOGRAPHER
A native of Dallas, Bridget L. Moore has received national and international recognition for her choreography. Ms. Moore´s choreographic works provide both cultural and kinesthetic experiences rooted in African-American and global dance aesthetics. Her most recent commissions include, “The Sound of Music” and “The Odyssey,” produced by Dallas Theater Center. Moore is a recipient of a 2016 Princess Grace Professional Development Award in Arts Administration and a 2012 Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Fellowship Award. Moore has also been featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for her role as a leader of “This Woman’s Work” in New York. In addition, she has received commissions from Ailey II, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Urban Bush Women, TITAS, DBDT, Bruce Wood Dance, and Red Clay Dance, to name a few. Ms. Moore's work has been presented at the Fall for Dance Festival in New York, the Inside/Out series at Jacob's Pillow , Ailey Citigroup Theater, Winspear Opera House, Moody Performance Hall, and Wyly Theatre, among others. Ms. Moore’s professional dance performing career includes Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE (1999-2009). Ms. Moore was a Visiting Professor at Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, South Korea, Artistic Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Joffrey Ballet School Texas, and Tri-Cities High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Atlanta. She also served on faculty at her alma mater Booker T. Washington HSPVA, and was the Director of the African and World Dance Ensemble. Moore holds a BFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and an MFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, CHOREOGRAPHER
DELILAH BUITRÓN ARREBOLA is a native Texan from Laredo and received her BA in Theatre and Television Communications from the illustrious Hofstra University in New York. Upon graduation, Ms. Arrebola moved to Spain where she studied Spanish Classical and flamenco at the Isabel Quintero Conservatory, as well as at the internationally acclaimed Amor de Dios school of Flamenco. Ms. Arrebola has since performed in Mexico City’s production and tour of "Carmen," The Dallas Opera’s production of "La Vida Breve" under the direction of María Benitez, as well as portrayed the Cuban Salsa Legend “La Lupe” in Martice Enterprise’s musical production of "La Lupe: My Life, My Destiny." Other Dallas theater credits include her portrayal of Gerarda in Southern Methodist University´s production of "La Discreta Enamorada," Shakespeare Dallas' musical production of "A Midsummers Night’s Dream" and "As you Like It." She has been seen in Ochre House productions "Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo," "MEAN," and "Cicerone," and was featured in the Dallas Flamenco Festival and Ochre House Theater’s productions of "Perro y Sangre," "El Conde Drácula," "Buñuel Descending," and "Picasso: Matador de Málaga." Delilah was a recipient of a 2013 “Dallas Observer Mastermind Award” for excellence in artistic endeavors.
Performing Arts Studio, 1804 N Decatur Rd, Atlanta, United States