The biennial Philadelphia Flamenco Festival, the second so far, continues through March 16th. Check it out here! But be prepared. Flamenco has a tendency to change your life in a heartbeat.
This week, Jill speaks with Elba Hevia y Vaca, artistic director of the festival, and executive and artistic director, and founder, of its presenting organization, Pasión y Arte. Elba's hope is to empower women through the art of Flamenco. As she notes on the Pasión y Arte website, "I create and dance feminist Flamenco. My choreography and direction excavates the truths that I have always felt and resonated with as a woman- strength, passion, and determination. Historically, these attributes have centered on the male dancers, musicians and singers in the flamenco tradition. I have chosen to use the flamenco language to unleash the feminist truth and peel away at these limits. I draw upon my cultural experience (Bolivian-born, Spanish, Indian and American) and the lives of contemporary women to keep the art form relevant in the 21st Century. My work celebrates women as the protagonists of their own story and not just a form of seductress, sexual object or a love object. I challenge all the historical roles that have been placed on women in this art form, and uncover the ever present truths."
Elba Hevia y Vaca was born in La Paz, Bolivia, where she studied classical Spanish dance from ages of five to thirteen, when she became enthralled by the power of flamenco. She traveled to Spain to study flamenco for the first time at the age of 15. While attending college at Georgetown in Washington, D.C., Hevia y Vaca studied and danced with master dancer Ana Martinez of the Ana Martinez Flamenco Dance Company, including touring nationally. Later, Hevia y Vaca danced with Washington’s Raquel Peña Spanish Dance Company, appearing as a soloist at various venues throughout the U.S., most notably the Kennedy Center. Hevia y Vaca moved to Philadelphia where she continued her study of modern dance, jazz, contact improvisation from various Philadelphia artists. In 2000, Hevia y Vaca founded Pasión y Arte out of a strong and intensely personal conviction that highly-stylized traditional Spanish flamenco dance is a perfect vessel to empower women.
Along with the conversation, Jill plays music from one of the festival's performers, and one of today's most acclaimed flamenco composers and superstar guitarists, Dani de Moron. Perhaps he's ready to pick up where the late Paco de Lucia left off?
De Lucia passed away February 25th, just before this year's Philadelphia Flamenco Festival opened, at the way too early age of 66. De Lucia was one of the current superstar standard bearers of Flamenco music, along with Paco Peña, and turned the Flamenco world on it's ear, so to speak, with his performance and vision. Last week we turned back the clock two years to Jill's interview with de Lucia; this week we pay tribute, one last time, with one of his major works.
Crossover airs Saturday mornings at 11:30 on WRTI-FM, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7 on WRTI HD-2. Both airings can be heard on the All-Classical webstream at wrti.org.