Rosario Ancer has done something quite amazing. With her late husband, Victor Kolstee, she lit a flame for flamenco in Vancouver in 1990 that burns more brightly than ever.
On Monday (September 18), the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival will launch its 33rd edition with a free masterclass at 6 p.m. at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. The teacher is none other than the bailadora herself, Ancer, the artistic and executive director of Flamenco Rosario. That’s in addition to her role as cofounder and director of the long-running festival.
“There was no funding in the beginning,” Ancer tells Pancouver by phone. “So with the first flamenco festival, my husband and I financed that with our credit card.”
Little by little, others took notice. According to Ancer, the Simons Foundation was one of the first to provide financial assistance. Then the City of Vancouver decided that this was an event worth supporting, followed by the province and the federally funded Canada Council for the Arts. She expresses appreciation to all of them, along with Granville Island for serving as the host of the event.
“So we have lots of supporters,” Ancer says. “Our audience has been amazing and loyal.”
Moreover, there have been thousands of volunteers over the years.
At her Monday lesson, Ancer plans to offer flamenco instruction to beginners. They will learn how to make hand-clapping sounds, known as Palmas. In addition, Ancer will teach some fancy footwork (Zapateado) and arm and handwork (Braceo) that are a hallmark of the art form.
Flamenco fest features Myriam Allard
On the following Saturday (September 23), Montreal-based flamenco artist Myriam Allard will offer an intermediate class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. Tickets are $80 for the general public and $70 for festival members.
Allard will also dance at 8 p.m. on September 23 with her group, La Otra Orilla, which includes Hedi Graja, Caroline Planté and Miguel Medina. According to Ancer, Allard is a very versatile dancer but her show this year, called RITE, is “very much flamenco”.
“We are so proud to support our Canadian flamenco artists,” Ancer says. “Myriam is an amazing dancer.”
Tickets for RITE cost $42 (general admission) and $31.50 (student admission).
The festival’s first ticketed event Is Quairo, which is a seven-person music and dance ensemble that will perform at the Fox Cabaret on September 20. The dancers, musicians, and singers are from France, Spain, Turkey, and Canada. General admission tickets are $26.35 and this show is only open for those 19 and older.
Contemporary and Cuban influences
The following night on September 21, Calgary-based dance artist Rosanna Terracciano will be at the Waterfront Theatre to perform a “solo trilogy of cities”. They’re called Calgary – a ghost story of love and hate; Napoli – a folk dance of language and seed; and Sevilla – a lullaby to another life. Allard, Barcelona-based Juan Carlos Lérida, and Terracciano are each choreographing one show.
Ancer says that Terracciano’s show is ideal for those who love contemporary dance but may not care so much about flamenco. That’s because she brings a modern flair to her performances. Tickets are $42 (general admission) and $31.50 for students.
On September 22, traditional flamenco and Spanish Latin songs will come together in a Cuban-style show at the Waterfront Theatre. For this performance, cantora Jafelen Helten will join Mexican bailadora Marien Luevano. Again, tickets are $42 (general admission) and $31.50 for students.
Ancer is excited about Rocío Molina shows
The festival will close with four performances by one of the most talked-about flamenco artists in the world, Rocío Molina. The Spanish choreographer will dance solo in the 90-minute Fallen from Heaven (Caída del Cielo). In this show, she inhabits several characters.
According to Ancer, about once every 50 years, a flamenco artist comes along and changes the game—and Molina is certainly one of these choreographers and dancers.
The festival will present Compañía Rocío Molina in partnership with DanceHouse and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre from September 27 to 30. Tickets for Molina’s show are available through DanceHouse.
In addition to the ticketed shows, the festival will offer free daytime performances at Picnic Pavilion on Granville Island on September 23 and 24. The lineup includes many of B.C.’s most admired flamenco artists, including Peter Mole and friends (Claire Marchand, JUstine Reinhart, Davide Sampaolo), Jhoely Triana Flamenco, and Flamenco Rosario dancers Katia Flores and Yurie Kaneko. They’ll perform with Flamenco Rosario’s professional training program students. For the time of each performance, visit the website.
The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival runs from September 18 to 30 at Granville Island and the Fei and Milton Wong Theatre in the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. For more information, visit the festival website.