More than 500 years of historical dance converge into one flamenco performance at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Tennessee Tech University's Derryberry Auditorium. "La Esencia Del Flamenco" — the Essence of Flamenco — is a performance featuring choreography that is both collaboratively created and improvised on the spot. Flamenco is a style of music and dance native to the Andalusian region of Spain. The performers hail from Flamenco Louisville, an organization devoted to all things flamenco — including classes, workshops and professional performers. Diana Dinicola, a co-founder of Flamenco Louisville, will be part of the performance group as well.
"We've been creating and rehearsing like crazy," said Dinicola. "We can't wait for that moment when the whole performance connects with the audience."
Dinicola, who has extensive training from multiple flamenco programs, has traveled the world to perform and interact with other celebrated flamenco artists. She is also an active educator, teaching flamenco in underserved communities in Louisville, Ky., and throughout the state through ArtsReach. The performance repertoire is based on a system of song forms, or "palos," which allow improvisations around commonly known musical structures. The artists will perform via "cante" (singing), "baile" (dancing) and "toca" (playing of musical instruments). "La Esencia Del Flamenco" incorporates elements of melody, poetry, rhythm and movement into one complete presentation. It is a Center Stage event hosted by the President's Commission on the Status of Women, which provides educational opportunities about specific issues and events that enhance a general awareness and appreciation for diversity on campus. The commission also promotes an awareness of women's issues and oversees the TTU Women's Center and programming of interest to women in the community.
Leslie Burk of the TTU history department staff and member of the programming and publicity subcommittee for the commission, wrote the Center Stage request to bring the dancers to TTU. Burk has danced in the Middle Eastern style for nearly 20 years and the flamenco style for seven.
"Part of our focus with the commission is bringing diversity to campus through educational programming," said Burk. "This performance is a great mix of multicultural diversity and empowerment. Flamenco is a very empowering dance."
In conjunction with "La Esencia," there will also be a quick-start introductory flamenco class taught by Dinicola during dead hour the day of the performance. The class, to be held in Derryberry Hall Auditorium, is open to everyone – all ages and skill levels – and will cover three elements of flamenco: "brazeo," the movement of the arms and upper body; "zapateado," the footwork; and "compas," the rhythmic underpinnings of flamenco. The event is free and open to the public.