Certamen Consorcio Artist Q&A

Ania Bartelmus

Q: Has Covid-19 affected the Flamenco community, dance/arts scene, industry, programming etc? And how might this influence the future of Flamenco?

A:  Yes, COVID-19 has significantly affected the dance and arts scene. Theaters and live venues are closed, they may never reopen and even go out of business. Most dancers and musicians only perform virtually, which does not always translate to any monetary compensation. Times are really tough for US artists. In Spain, tablaos are closed, which in a long term could mean the end of traditional tablao style shows and that only established flamenco artists creating for big theaters will survive, as theaters are still open in Spain. In the US, flamenco might go out of context even further, as we no longer can perform live in any form. Flamenco dancers might shift to working alone to pre-recorded music, similar to dancers of other disciplines.

Q: Beyond understanding history, how does one learn and become a part of flamenco culture? Is Flamenco accessible to everyone? Is appropriation an issue to the flamenco industry?

A:  To learn and become part of flamenco culture it is essential to live for a longer period of time in Andalucía. Once you go back to your own culture it’s not possible to still be part of flamenco culture because it is a culture tied to a region and its people. It can be transplanted but it would never be truly the same.  Flamenco has not always been accessible to everyone because it is not as common as other dances. As a result of COVID-19, flamenco is more accessible. You can now watch flamenco shows from Spain and take classes with world-famous flamenco artists from the comfort of your home. Appropriation is an issue in flamenco because in many circles a dancer that doesn’t look and pretend to be a Spanish gypsy is not considered to be flamenca enough.

Q: How or does Flamenco continue to evolve? What are the arguments for traditional flamenco vs. contemporary flamenco?

A:  Flamenco is an ever-evolving art form. What is now considered traditional used to be considered contemporary. Some of what is now considered contemporary might be considered traditional in the future. I believe that while we experiment with contemporary flamenco we should always make sure to preserve the traditional way. The way flamenco was danced in the beginning of its creation and before any modifications.

Q: Is flamenco valued everywhere? Are their particular locations or places where flamenco is supported more than others and vice versa? Do Flamenco artists feel limited in where and how they can succeed?

A:  No, flamenco is not valued everywhere including some circles in Spain. At one point in history, flamenco was raised to the level of Spanish identity and then to one of the best Spanish exports but some Spaniards have never bought to that idea even when flamenco was named a UNESCO cultural heritage. Worldwide, many people do not know what flamenco is and therefore do not know how to value it. Locations with strong flamenco communities value flamenco more than those without. Finally, flamenco dance is not treated equal to dances of other disciplines. I have come across several dance festivals and other dance opportunities seemingly open to all dancers that would not agree to feature flamenco dance. I believe that discrimination of flamenco comes from the fact that flamenco is viewed as a folkloric dance and not as an art form and a legit dance genre. All that happening definitely limits flamenco dancers.