La Tania Baile Flamenco, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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La Tania
Photo by Adrian Arias

‘Despertar es un Color’

La Tania Baile Flamenco
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
April 22, 2012. 7 PM

We have waited a long time (almost three years, in my estimation) for a return of the amazing La Tania. Thus, the audience and this reviewer felt amply rewarded by the production of “Despertar es un Color” for its one and only production, April 22. For this event, La Tania brought together a company of local dancers and herself, singers and instrumentalists who accomplished an elaborate performance, giving us new dimensions in flamenco dance.

The usual image of flamenco is that of a cabaret dance offering a powerful man twirling around a lively woman who stamps while the man claps. A singer and a guitarist usually accompany them. Erase that image. In La Tania’s show, all the dancers were strong, beautifully skilled women accompanied by two singers, Felix De Lola and Kina Mendez (a man and a woman), one guitarist, Roberto Aguilar, and a violinist, Tregar Otton.

Not only is the dancing unusual for the strength and range of movement in the arms, feet and torso, but La Tania has choreographed patterns in space and for ensemble that are exciting, for this dance style and indeed, for any other.

Part I provided the opportunity for three dancers to perform solos, following the opening trio “Martinete.” Sandra Gabas, tall and strong, gave us “Alegrías”; Gina Giammanco, small and light, danced “Solea por Bulerias”; and La Tania finished with “Soleareas,” holding stage with her extraordinary style and presence.

Part II used the show’s title, “Despertar es un Color,” (Waking Up Is a Color) indicating that there was an awakening, if not for the dancers certainly for an audience who was learning to see the expanded range of flamenco (see promotional video, below, for excerpts). For each section, color was varied helping us to see fashion not only in costume but in style.

The first part, “Despertar (Solea)” brought all the dancers on stage dressed in red with white skirts with trains, long extensions of the skirts. It is remarkable to watch the footwork possible and the “tails” being kicked.

Then, Gabas, Giammanco and Lea Kobeli did a trio “Tierra (Farruca),” dressed in purple tops and black pants exhibiting astonishing use of feet and arms. The surprise hit of the evening was La Tania’s solo “Alas el Viento (Alegrías)” as she swept across the stage, her long shawl swooping like a ship’s sail, her white dress, also with a train, rapping around her feet as she bent, turned, paused with so much accomplishment. The finale “Colores (Tangos/Tientos),” danced by the entire company, brought the audience to its feet with delight and great appreciation for this remarkable work.

Throughout the performance, the singers and musicians interacted with the dancers, their rhythms here indicated by the words in the parentheses, e.g Alegrías. The rapport between them was delightful.

La Tania is teaching classes in San Francisco and Oakland and will appear at the Ethnic Dance Festival June 16 and 17. Do go see her!

Company members are: Sandra Gabas, Gina Giammanco, Sara Moncada, Lea Kobeli, Sachiko Morino and La Tania. Costumes were by Sachiko Morino and Flamencur; the fine lighting by Matthew Antaky.

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