CONTACT: Elaine Ray, News Service (415) 723-7161
"José Greco, of course, is from Brooklyn," John Harris tells a reporter who has just revealed her limited knowledge of flamenco dance. "When you see some of these other people who still live in their little villages in Andalusia but have a worldwide reputation because of their ability, you understand the difference," says Harris, a former SLAC staffer and producer of Flamenco Week.
Members of the Stanford community can try their hands (and feet) at authentic flamenco dancing when Flamenco Week comes to Roble Gym July 21-25. On July 31, world famous flamenco dancers will perform at Dinkelspiel Auditorium. The events are sponsored by the Stanford Dance Division and Danza Española, a student group.
Students ages 12 to 80 and from all over the state have signed up for Flamenco Week's 10-class workshop in Roble. Those who can't make it during the day can take evening walk-in classes Monday through Thursday of that week.
"This is an opportunity for them to come in and have an intensive week with first-class international teachers," Harris says of the daytime sessions. He adds that with approximately 20 flamenco teachers, the Bay Area is rich with offerings. The workshop is aimed at people who live outside the Bay Area's population centers and don't have access to these teachers.
Unlike the more theatrical versions of the dance form, which have been popularized by performers like Greco, the version of flamenco that will be spotlighted at Stanford is closer to the style performed in southern Spain.
"Jose Greco is of the theater form of flamenco, which is, of course, for financial reasons, where you have to be if you're going to make money," Harris says. "But the traditional venue for flamenco is in the cafes and bars of small towns and large towns of Andalusia. It's also very much a family art."
The events scheduled for Stanford are a family affair as well. Internationally acclaimed dancer José Galván, of Sevilla in Andalusia, will teach and perform along with his wife, Eugenia de los Reyes, a dancer in her own right. Their daughter, Pastora de los Reyes, will also teach and perform. Their troupe also includes guitarist Manuel Parejo. Other local and international dancers and musicians will perform as well.
The three components of flamenco are "baile," or dance; "toque," instrumentals; and "cante," song. Although flamenco has its roots in southern Spain, it has taken on rhythms, melodies and chants of other cultures, including Indian, African and Jewish. Traditional dances from northern Spain, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia have also been incorporated into the art form. Although many contemporary flamenco performers are not gypsies, flamenco remains largely a gypsy tradition. "Since it's an art that is not documented and keeps changing all the time, you don't really know what it was even 100 years ago," Harris says. Some of today's flamenco performers have fused traditional moves and music with modern dance and jazz.
Harris, who now works as a management consultant to SLAC, became interested in flamenco five years ago and began taking a weekly class at the Palo Alto Cultural Center. "Flamenco is something that takes hold of you and draws you in," Harris says. "You start out just wanting to learn a little dance, but soon you find yourself learning music and Spanish and researching the history of the gypsies and Arabs in Andalusia. "
For more information about Flamenco Week, call Harris at 493-6314. There are a few spaces available in the week-long workshop for advanced or professional dancers. Registration for the workshop is $270. Walk-in evening classes are $28 per dance lesson and $32 for guitar. Tickets for the July 31 performance at 8 p.m. in Dinkelspiel Auditorium are $15 for students and seniors and $20 for general admission. They can be purchased at the Stanford Ticket Office, 723-4317.
By Elaine Ray