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Live flamenco stomps back to stage for Sunday series

A local dance company kicked off Asian Heritage Month with a sold-out “flamenco dim sum” show, and is launching an ongoing series at Anne MacDonald Studio in North Van.

After getting a spark from a provincial grant, the performers of Mozaico Flamenco are stepping back on the stage for a year of live performances.

Last Saturday (April 30), the dance outfit performed a “flamenco dim sum” show at Vancouver’s Chai Lounge restaurant to kick off Asian Heritage Month in May.

That show was sold out 48 hours in advance, says prima bailaora Kasandra “La China” Lea.

“We were really surprised, but I guess there is maybe some pent-up demand for flamenco,” she said.

Then on May 1, her company launched a “Sunday Salon Series” that will bring regular flamenco shows to the Anne MacDonald Studio in Lower Lonsdale.

Attendees can expect lively Spanish music, flowing dresses and rapid-fire footwork. The show opens with an initial performance, followed by a question-and-answer period where the audience can get to know the artists over red wine. Then, the evening is capped off by forming an "artistic circle" where the audience is encouraged to dress in flamboyant garb, and lend their voices and clapping hands to the performance.

Lea’s interpretation of the dance style incorporates traditional elements, while adding some fanfare from Chinese culture.

The Spanish have their own “abanico” fans, Lea explained, which are used by old ladies around Andalusia because it was too hot and there was no air conditioning. From there, the fan got a little larger to be made of lace and fabric.

“And then my extension to that is I perform with a fan that has much, much longer tails,” she said. “The largest ones [are] called Chinese silk fantails, and they're about four-feet long.”

These fantails are intended to mimic the movement of dragons. “And that's something unique we've integrated in quite a few numbers.”

While there are quite a few people of Asian heritage doing in Flamenco in Canada, Lea is fairly certain she’s the only one who’s been doing it for 25 years.

“I have a little bit of notoriety there,” she said.

The flamenco shows were made possible by a one-time, emergency Arts Impact grant from the BC Arts Council.

Mozaico Flamenco Sunday Salon Series

When: June 5, June 12, July 3, July 10 and repeating on select Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Details available on Mozaico Flamenco's website.

Where: Anne MacDonald Studio, Presentation House Theatre, 333 Chesterfield Ave, North Vancouver 

Cost: $20 for adults; $15 for children, students and seniors in advance. Cash only at the door.

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