I Am Who I Am: Singapore Flamenco Festival

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Flamenco Sin Fronteras’ inaugural Flamenco festival, “I Am Who I Am,” kicked off on Friday, October 18. This year’s festival is a collaboration with Singapore Association for Mental Health, and features both works inspired by and performed by clients of the association. The festival program showcases traditional and contemporary Flamenco, and avant-garde multidisciplinary works.

A few thoughts on the performances I’ve seen thus far:

“FlamencAsian” celebrated the diversity of Asia-based Flamenco companies and schools.  FlamencAsian 1 featured Spanish classical dances by Rose Borromeo Spanish Dance Company (the school at which I study), Flamenco Flamingos, and Flamenco Sin Fronteras. FlamencAsian 2 presented new choreography by Suellen De Villiers of Artitude Dance Studios and Chang Hsiao Min of Le Grand School of Dance, including a contemporary Bata de Cola piece and a dazzling percussive duel between Flamenco and tap dancers.

“Flamenco Puro” showcased the best of traditional Flamenco dance and music with guest artists Angela Espanadero (dancer), Antonio Fernandez (singer) and Jorge Padilla (guitarist) from Spain, and artists from Singapore-based Flamenco Sin Fronteras. Toshi Konno and Mamiko Nakane of Flamenco Sin Fronteras had such stage presence in the opening dance sequence, “Cinco Caminos.” Guest artist Espanadero’s “Alegrias” was an utter joy to behold—a potent cocktail of explosive footwork, haunting singing, virtuoso guitar playing and percussive hand clapping! And, throughout, the small, but knowledgable audience, participated in jaleo, or vocal encouragement to the performers, and called out such phrases as, “Ezo!, Arsa!, Olé!, Toma!, Vamo!” It made for an intimate and memorable event.

“I Am Who I Am” continues through to Sunday, October 26 with “Elements,” a Flamenco repertoire to represent and the moods and emotions associated with each of the five elements of Chinese philosophy, and “Ten Layers of Frills/Breaking Silence,” an experimental Flamenco theatre piece and a multidisciplinary theatre production made in collaboration with the Singapore Association of Mental Health. The material used “Breaking Silence” is shaped from interviews conducted with SAMH’s clients regarding the social stigmas of mental illness and involves a combination of various dance genres (Flamenco, contemporary, and butoh) and contact improvisation, along with drama, physical theatre and visual arts set to Flamenco music and rhythms. It also includes a special performance by the clients of Singapore Association of Mental Health developed from a eight week workshop conducted by Flamenco Sin Fronteras. See you there?