Hailed as “The Keeper of Flamenco” by Dance Magazine and honored by the King and Government of Spain with La Cruz de la Orden al Mérito Civil for “all the years of passion, excellence and dedication to the flamenco art,” Carlota Santana is an internationally-renowned flamenco and Spanish dance artist and educator. In 1983, she co-founded Flamenco Vivo with Roberto Lorca; following his death from AIDS in 1987, she was determined to continue their work. In the decades since, she has led Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana’s growth as one of this country’s most successful flamenco companies, with a mission to promote flamenco as a living art form and a vital part of Hispanic heritage.
Under Santana’s artistic direction, Flamenco Vivo has premiered more than 25 original works, offering commissions to numerous flamenco artists from Spain and the United States; important creations include Bailes de Ida y Vuelta, depicting flamenco’s journey through Latin America; Mano a Mano, a tribute to the bullfighter Manolete; and the contemporary flamenco story-ballet Federico, a celebration of the life of Federico García Lorca. Ms. Santana created the company’s innovative arts-in-education program, integrating Spanish dance and culture with academic curricula, and has pioneered bilingual education initiatives targeted to immigrant populations, as well as other programs addressing the special needs of students with disabilities. Beyond the company’s on-going work, she has also been the driving force behind a series of unique special projects, including two flamenco symposia produced in collaboration with Duke University’s Dance Department and the “100 Years of Flamenco in New York” exhibit mounted in partnership with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The first-ever curated museum show on flamenco in the U.S., “100 Years” ran for five months at The Vincent Astor Gallery at Lincoln Center; in his review, New York Times chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay praised the “vitality and pride” of the show, noting: “This vivid collection enriches our ideas of both this genre and this city.” Santana is on the faculty of Duke University and has taught at Long Island and New York Universities.