By Sarah Lochhead
Spanish dance has had apresence in Canada for manydecades. Canadians were seeing the great Spanish dancers, such as Argentinita and Carmen Amaya, as early as the 1920s as they toured North America via impresario Sol Hurok, and one
Claire Marchand/Photo by Steve Salnikowski of Chronic Creative
could go to New York and train in Spanish dance and then bring it back to Canada. Conchita Triana had a Spanish dance studio in Toronto by 1953 and was performing locally in the late 1930s. Barbara Beck was her real name; she was born in Toronto and grew up in Rosedale. Her instructor, Elisa Lopez, also had a studio in Toronto from the late 1920s. In the 1950s, Kay Armstrong was teaching Spanish dance in Vancouver. Armstrong studied with Helen Crewe and her daughter Joan, who taught Spanish dancein Vancouver in the 1930s.
Many immigrant and Canadian born artists have followed in their footsteps, though indirectly. This composite portrait provides a glimpse of flamenco artists currently involved in this art form across the country. Though this collection focusses solely on the dancers, in fact talking about the dancing without reference to the music would never occur in the practice of flamenco itself. The two elements are inherently interconnected. Here, however, we wanted to reveal some of the connections between dancers and teachers in order to begin tracing the genealogy of flamenco in Canada. Organized geographically, each biographical entry is followed by a list of the artists’ main teachers and influences and the city in which the dancer studied with them (not the teacher’s home city). The same instructors are mentioned repeatedly in different biographies, as the artistry of flamenco dance is shared and passed on, and as it evolves from one generation to the next. The information offered here is by no means a complete picture of the depth and breadth of the Canadian flamenco scene. What is your flamenco connection?
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Profiles of our Canadian Flamenco artists will be featured by province in up-coming blogs to help people find their local talent.
This article was originally published in March 2009 and is reproduced with permission from The Dance Current.
Get your tickets to see Rubén Olmo Live at the 2011 Toronto International Flamenco Festival on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.