Certamen Consorcio Artist Q&A

Laura Sánchez

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

A:  Covid-19 has not only affected the flamenco industry but the arts in general. Dance studios, theaters, tablaos, and art spaces closed at the beginning of the pandemic taking away the work of dancers, musicians, teachers, as well as all those who work on production and backstage. As artists, we are used to living with uncertainty but this time the situation went beyond rational limits. Within days we had to become “experts” in the digital world, learn how to teach online, make live presentations on Social Media to talk about our work, and find new ways to share our art, without necessarily having any economic return. The lack of financial aid that could compensate for the loss of so much work, at least in Spain, pushed flamenco artists to found an association that would watch over their rights and demonstrate that this group deserves recognition in the society. The union of the professional flamenco artists in such difficult times was a vital necessity and a milestone that will definitely mark the future of flamenco in a very positive way.

The pandemic has “forced” us to stop and question who we are, the stories we want to tell, and how this situation has marked our identity as artists. Covid-19 will affect the future of flamenco because artists are not, nor will be, what we were before the pandemic, so art cannot be the same as it evolves with the artist. The pandemic has pushed us to think out of the box and find new ways of creating art, which provided an opportunity for many artists to find their true essence and create art “in their own personal way”. However, traditional flamenco will continue to exist in its purest form because of its cultural roots and also because, now more than ever, flamenco artists have come together to fight for it.

I personally believe that the pandemic will mark a before and after in the way we look at the world, relate, communicate and exist, and this will be reflected in the future of the arts in general and flamenco in particular.

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

A:  Life is change and transformation and the arts have to evolve with it to tell the stories of “today”.  However, respecting the tradition of flamenco is not only important but necessary to allow our culture to persist through its art.

Likewise, allowing its evolution is necessary to be able to adapt to the times we live in. It is necessary because artists evolve over time and their lived experiences, such as this pandemic, will mark the way they do art. Allowing the exploration of this art in other contexts such as contemporary art has become a vital need in recent months.

I personally believe that allowing experimentation, while respecting flamenco traditions, brings opportunities to foster creativity and allow artists and creators to find their “voice” thus enriching our culture.

Q: What is it like to be a part of the flamenco community? Who does it, why, and what are their intentions for being a part of it?

A: Belonging to a group or community is, according to Maslow, a fundamental human need.  As a flamenco dance educator, the idea of ​​community is everything because it means “family” to me. Building my community of students around flamenco is one of the most important aspects of teaching and what I have been working on since I started teaching in Boston back in 2014. Allowing that community of students to remain connected virtually during the pandemic was fundamental to cope with the lockdown and get the support we needed to move forward. We even extend our community beyond physical borders as we have welcome students from all over the world.

Through my classes, I have also been contributing to expand the local Flamenco Community of Boston. Community that has also given me the opportunity to continue my training with teachers such as Isaac de los Reyes, Nino de los Reyes, La Lupi, Belén Maya, Jesús Carmona, Lucia Campillo or Triana Maciel, among others. In addition, I have collaborated with local artists to continue building community together and sharing our love and respect for flamenco with our students in collective community events.  Fostering the flamenco community locally is very important to create opportunities for flamenco artists to perform internationally at Flamenco Festivals and teach worldwide through flamenco workshops.

Likewise, belonging to a national network of flamenco professionals such as the Flamenco Vivo Consocio, is something that I needed as an independent artist to feel supported on this path that can sometimes be very lonely. During the past few months, I have learned from my colleagues, we have shared our projects, our ideas and together we have become a little stronger.  This group has inspired me by the love that we all share for this art and how we strive to continue sharing it despite difficulties.

In addition, this pandemic has shown us how important it is to formalize this Flamenco Community at a more global level, putting all flamenco professionals on the same page through the “Unión Flamenca”; association to defend the rights of this group and fulfill a historical need. This huge event will mark an important milestone in the prevalence of this art due to its cultural importance and its international hallmark.