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.
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”.
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!
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)