noun: collaboration; plural noun: collaborations
1. the action of working with one or more persons to produce or create something. synonyms: cooperation, alliance, partnership, participation, combination, association, concert. The process of working together to the same end.
The collective spirit manifests beautiful things. When knowledgeable, open-minded spirits collaborate, the freedom to experiment and explore together creates a crucible to meld inspirations and ideas. For this series I have invited trusted artists to join me in creating ‘El Encuentro’ (The Meeting) , a flamenco dance and music piece that incorporates elements of improvisation within the highly structured flamenco form. Improvisation and collective response is the heart of traditional flamenco. Rooted in the creative and emotional exchange between singer, dancer and musicians, flamenco is also about community. To me, flamenco dance is never truly a ‘solo’; in order for the piece to flow, all the creative partners must have the technical knowledge, artistic sensitivity and generosity to participate. We seek creative freedom within the structure. My collaborators - Shirlita ‘La Pili’ Pincay (singer), Juan Dino Toledo (guitarist) and Amilia Cervantes (violin) have provided a secure and inspiring space in which to work.
I have been immersed in traditional flamenco for my entire adult life. For many years my starting point for choreography was the song style and rhythm. In late 2016, I began seeking different entry points for creation - tapping into the possibility of storytelling or exploring concepts using flamenco vocabulary. My focus shifted from working with my musical community to writing and researching.This led to a more cerebral approach to the artform, and experimentation with deconstructed movement, non-traditional accompaniment and/or recorded non-flamenco music. It continues to be an illuminating study and I am grateful for it, though I find it isolating at times. This sense of isolation helped me develop a deeper appreciation for the inherent understanding between flamenco artists, an understanding I had taken for granted. Last December, my family hosted a music jam at our house. Returning to this environment reminded me of the magical elements of live music and the exhilaration of connection. This flamenco collaboration is the result of a good, old-fashioned house party jam - fitting considering the origins of flamenco. El Encuentro’ is about responding to the song, music or movement that each person brings to the collective and the artistry they inspire in others.
More than a ‘creative process’, my work on this project has been a kind of homecoming. A moment to appreciate the dialogue between artists, enjoy the thrill and intensity of working with live music and to fully embrace the emotional response this engenders. The risk inherent in creating in the moment is counterbalanced by the rich possibilities that arise when we truly listen and respond to the collective. We step into the fire with open minds and hearts, ready to burn away all pretence and celebrate the expression of our unguarded spirits.
Photo featuring Angela Déiseach (Dance), Shirlita ‘La Pili’ Pincay (Vocals), Juan Dino Toledo (Guitar), Amilia Cervantes (Violin); Photo by: Alex Usquiano