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 Merito 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, the Company has premiered more than 20 original works, offering commissions to numerous flamenco artists from Spain and the United States; recent 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/Hispanic dance and culture with academic curricula, and has pioneered bilingual education initiatives targeted to immigrant populations, as well as additional programs addressing the special needs of disabled youth. 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 (2012 and 2015), 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 (2013) in 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 has served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, is a member of the New York Dance Force and North Carolina Dance Alliance, and is a recipient of a Choreographer fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. She is on the faculty of Duke University, has taught at Long Island and New York Universities and participated in the creation of the NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.