If Flamenco is synonymous with passion, then last night’s cabaret said ‘wait a minute, what if it wasn’t, and what else is there?’. As the act unfolds, to the surprise of the viewers and the performers themselves, many of the elements I expect to see in a Flamenco performance disintegrate and a whole world of new possibilities appears. As Calgary’s Rosanna Terracciano lays on the floor, arms and legs flailing, missing one shoe, abandoning the proud carriage of a Flamenco dancer, I begin to form an image of a rebel, breaking rules long held.

As Terracciano bursts into wild abandon and then collapses, Montreal’s Myriam Allard continues to maintain her beautiful carriage and satisfies the aesthetic eye. But the curiosity inherent in improvisation takes her further, as she takes off her teal shoe and proceeds into a one shoe Flamenco frenzy, her face serious and blank. I hardly manage to hold back my laughter.

Elements of humour begin to appear everywhere, and I notice that there is an inside joke shared between the dancers, singer and musicians that I am not privy to, but I don’t care. The intensity of their connection becomes a focal point of its own.  The exchange of smiles, penetrating looks, and occasional conversation, highlight the focus and presence of each artist as they try to tune into the flow of improvisation. Later, when I talk to the percussionist, Miguel Medina, he says that ‘you have to be present all the time’. He tells me that they know the language, body and rhythm; however, when improvising, the language becomes the backbone, and what happens in between the notes and rhythms is where the magic begins.

For the music lover, the cabaret is a source for enlightening conversations for days to come.

Caroline Plante’s Flamenco guitar is the highlight for my partner, a musician, who is again reminded how expressive and powerful flamenco music can be. Hedi Graja, an accomplished Flamenco cantor and part of La Otra Orilla with Myriam Allard, is my highlight, singing haunting melodies, interspersed with ‘La fromage’ cries. And finally, Chris Dadge, a multi-instrumentalist from Calgary, creates ambient sounds from a combination of funny looking tools that accompany his drum set. As I found out later, this is the first time Dadge has sat in with the group, and he does not actually know Flamenco music. But his ear, evidently, is well practiced, because not for a moment does he looks out of place, or tune.

And lastly, a surprise video from world renowned Contemporary Flamenco dancer Juan Carlos Lerida: It’s in Spanish, and apparently played backwards. No idea what he says. But in this one-hour cabaret these surprises are everywhere. And I am left a better woman for it. 

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