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Last Thursday I took a day trip to Philadelphia to begin work on a new costume commission for the all female flamenco troupe, Pasion y Arte.

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Rosario Toledo, acclaimed international flamenco performer and choreographer, is in town for three weeks to set a new work for six women. While they have only been in the studio for a week, Rosario has described the heart of the work to be “defending the dance of the woman”.

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I spent the afternoon watching rehearsal and was mesmerized by their creative process in the studio. To me, it was so different from the start/stop that is involved in learning or creating a new ballet. Rosario showed movement and stomped out rhythms constantly and the dancers, in turn, never stopped moving in their learning process. They were truly as much like a band practicing and improvising as they were dancers perfecting technique and executing steps. The process was the marriage of creating music and dance simultaneously!

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Now, as I start to get design ideas–based on Rosario’s call for something simple and elegant, not something for the stage or for the street but in-between, and hopefully I have not lost too much in the translation–I am throwing myself head first into this book on the history of flamenco. The director, Elba Hevia y Vaca, gave a copy to each designer and so far it is as fascinating to me as Apollo’s Angels. Elba has a brilliant feminist vision and mission for her company, which I applaud.

I return to Philly again this Thursday to see their progress and I look forward to posting more about it! (you can follow me on tumblr or twitter and/or instagram, both @clthomps, for short updates on this and other projects)

Written by Candice Thompson

After more than a decade in Brooklyn, Candice Thompson is now an Atlanta-based artist and writer. Prior to dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet Company and ad hoc Ballet, she trained with Kee Juan Han at the School of Ballet Arizona and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She founded LOLAstretch Dancewear in 2000 and has designed costumes for a variety of theater and dance companies across the country. She recently received a masters degree in Literary Nonfiction from Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program and more of her dance writing can be found in the pages of Dance Magazine, Pointe, and Dance Teacher.