WORDS: ANGELA WALCOTT
Wearing a full-length black dress, Lina’s ruffled hem bounces and curls with the powerful stomp of her heels. Arms poised overhead, she circles the stage; claps her hands, pauses and then draws delicate circles in the air. With a sudden spin, Lina taps her fingers along her waist in sync to the rising and falling melody of an enchanting Flamenco beat.
Lina Kazan, principle dancer and Executive Director at Flamenco Borealis is ready to share the art of Flamenco clapping, foot stomping and body tapping with Culture Days audiences. With lots of percussive beats and quick combinations, things can get a little complicated in this ancient dance. But, clapping isn’t the hardest part. “What is difficult,” points out Kazan, “are the rhythms; the structure; where to put the accents and how to follow a performer; singer or a guitarist.” Although, rest assured, the Saskatoon-based performer will focus on clapping and body percussion basics over a two-day period. “I am going to be tackling coordination work – adding some body-tapping to the clapping,” Kazan says, “it adds a bit of texture to the rhythm and introduces people to the body part of Flamenco.” Flamenco consists primarily of dancing and music, but clapping is a major component of the Flamenco experience. Essentially, the dancer assumes the role of percussionist which is why learning the proper claps is so important.
Committed to promoting Flamenco as an art form, Kazan began Flamenco dancing back in 2004 while living in Montreal and immediately fell in love. Flamenco Borealis stages music and dance performances as well as educational programs. Kazan, who was invited to perform at a Culture Days event on a previous occasion, hopes to share her passion for Flamenco with the wider community. A first-time Culture Days event organizer, Kazan was eager to participate by developing her own activity. As the winner of Culture Days’ Spring Registration Contest, her enthusiasm paid off. “When I saw the Culture Days announcements I thought, ‘what can I do?’ I really want to be a part of that and offer something unique,” she says. Kazan wanted to organize an activity outside of the sphere of traditional dance classes that was accessible, fun and hands on.
“Culture Days offers people a chance to try something new. It helps them to feel involved even if they don’t have experience in dancing or Flamenco music,” says Kazan of her upcoming workshop.” Another plus is the fact that Kazan’s Flamenco Beats program is a drop-in session, allowing participants to come and go as they wish. Hopefully this workshop will give participants a bit of a taste, to see if they like it or if they want to pursue more in a Flamenco class.” Kazan’s Culture Days activity is important in many ways. “In our community, we don’t get a lot of variety of programs, so I thought this is a good way to introduce people to something different.”
As with many aspects of the arts, workshops offered by Culture Days organizers can have many positive impacts on participants. “It’s a good mental exercise; it’s a good artistic exercise. There are a lot of benefits to artistic programming,” says Kazan. “And it’s free so people can try it without financial pressure.” Kazan notes that there are also no limits on age or physical ability. Anyone can participate!
Kazan is hopeful that her new workshop will help to enrich the community’s arts and culture scene. She is keen to introduce Flamenco as a fun, exciting, and complex art form that can be enjoyed anywhere by anyone. Ultimately, she wants to raise awareness about Flamenco and connect the community, one foot (and clap!) at a time. Click here to learn more about Kazan’s Culture Days Flamenco Beats program.
Watch this Flamenco piece presented at Al Andalusi, a production by Flamenco Borealis, to see an example of Flamenco hand clapping! To see more videos by Flamenco Borealis, click here.
Photos of Lina Kazan (in order of appearance) taken by: Ken Greenhorn; Aloys Neil Mark Fleischmann
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