We love all kinds of music at Alma Mater, and especially the way that live music can bring people together. It's fair to say that we've all had experiences at rock shows where we feel united in chorus with everyone in the audience, and there are few things that live up to that sensation. When it comes to more traditional forms of music, though, some people find themselves to be a little intimidated – whether it be classical music, opera, or any other art form that can be perceived as stuffy or exclusionary.
In stark contrast to those styles of performance, though, is flamenco; while flamenco is deeply rooted in tradition, its tradition comes in the form of a joyous, communal experience that connects the audience with the performers. If you've never seen a flamenco performance, take the opportunity to see Oleaje Flamenco come through and light up Fawcett Hall.
The Spanish art form dates back to the 1700s, and typically features a dramatic mixture of music and dance, suffused with percussion and emotion. Oleaje (their name meaning “a surge of waves”) has become a prominent company in the Seattle area, and they'll be joined by Ana Rosa Meneses, the director, instructor, choreographer, and prima ballerina for lauded Cuban company Compania Flamenco Esos.
Emilie Claire, co-owner of SOL&ECO – producers of this event, and collaborators with Oleaje – spoke with us about what makes flamenco performances so uniquely electric.
“A flamenco performance is kind of different from many other kinds of live music or theatre that you may go to, in that the audience is invited to participate and be part of the moment, of the experience, by way of giving spontaneous shouts of approval and encouragement,” says Claire. “The aficionados – the people who love flamenco music and understand it – anytime they see or hear something that they think is really great, they don't wait until the end of the number to applaud or shout.”
That element of feedback between the crowd and the artists lends an added element of thrill and connection to the performances – as the audience is free to voice their approval of what they're experiencing, the performers can feed off of that and know that their art is inspiring a reaction.
“Flamenco is really an art form that rose out of populations who were subjugated, so this came from their struggles and experiences, as a way of celebrating life and the continuity and joy of living,” says Claire. “Flamenco is an expression of that – it is a musical and movement celebration of living, and it spans every possible emotion of human experience. And that's something that the audience can feel really engaged in, and maybe feel that they're being given a vehicle to express themselves through that lively interaction.”
What Oleaje Flamenco has planned for Fawcett Hall is a real treat, as they bring with them Meneses, one of the great flamenco artists of Cuba – a big feat, as Claire notes, because of how difficult it can be to have things flow smoothly between the US and Cuba.
“It's really a special honor to have somebody of her caliber and reputation here, and offer the members of Oleaje to be her support for this performance,” says Claire. “It's really a fantastic experience that we're all having, and we're very happy to share that with the audience.”
If you see or hear something that strikes a chord with you at Oleaje Flamenco's show, let them know that they've touched your heart. But, if you'd rather sit back and let it all wash over you, feel free to let the music move you however it will.
Grab your tickets to see Iva & Alyosha ASAP, they’re playing October 25th here at Alma Mater!