Feel the power of Flamenco

Dancer Lia Grainger was once a collegiate-level basketball player in her hometown of Vancouver, and then an award-winning journalist

  • Jul. 22, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Fire of flamenco: Trained in Seville

Dancer Lia Grainger was once a collegiate-level basketball player in her hometown of Vancouver, and then an award-winning journalist. But she threw it all away to become a professional flamenco dancer, a feat that once seemed impossible for the 6-2 blond-haired, green-eyed Canadian.

No sooner had Dennis Duffin graduated with a PhD in Astrophysics from McMaster University, he left Ontario to pursue his love of flamenco and went to live in Seville, Spain to study guitar with the best in the world.

The two artists who are behind Fin de Fiesta Flamenco turned their backs on “normal” lives in order to devote themselves entirely to their true passion, flamenco. Today, they spend as much time in Spain as they do in Canada. They aren’t the only foreigners to make this move. Seville is populated by almost as many flamenco students as tourists. There are dancers and guitarists, young and old, from all around the world who have chosen to give up everything and move to Spain to commit themselves full-time to the study and performance of flamenco.

In 2012, Grainger decided to bring this Spanish inspiration to Canadian soil by forming Fin de Fiesta, an ensemble of esteemed Canadian and American flamenco artists who divide their time between North America and Seville. Fin de Fiesta has been presenting electric performances with a wide range of guest artists at festivals and theatres across the continent ever since.

On this, their first B.C. tour, Grainger and Duffin (who is also a member of Canadian Folk Music Award-nominated band Ventanas) will be joined by Los Angeles-based singer Daniel Azcarate, who has been making waves in Seville in recent years, performing to rave reviews at the flamenco city’s famed local clubs and theatres.

Performing with them will be British Columbia flamenco dance sensation Michelle Harding, who has been wowing audiences for years as both a soloist and member of Vancouver‘s Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre. Another well-respected Vancouver dancer, choreographer and teacher Maria Avila will also join them for several dates.

Grainger began her career dancing with Harding in Vancouver and met Avila while they were both living and studying in Seville. All three dancers share a similar physique unusual for flamenco – tall and slender – and all three embrace an aggressive and precise esthetic.

“I’m thrilled to be bringing the music and dance of Spain to B.C.,” says Grainger. “We’ve worked so hard in Spain to create this work, and I feel lucky to be able to perform it in my home city, and in the places I visited and loved as a child.”

The name Fin de Fiesta translates as “end of the party,” a reference to the open jam session that happens at the end of a traditional flamenco show in Spain. This is when the true improvisational and spirited nature of flamenco shows itself. It is this lively spirit – unpredictable and unrestrained – that inspires their work.

With the help of an Ontario Arts Council Grant, members of Fin de Fiesta have been hard at work recently in Spain, planning their current production. With choreographic inspiration from maestra Manuela Rios and maestro Manuel Betanzos, principal bailaora Grainger has been working with Duffin and Azcarate to create “suerte,”or luck.

This production examines questions that are fundamental to any artist: What comes to us by chance? What comes to us because we choose it? Does destiny exist?

Fin de fiesta takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 at Shuswap Theatre. Tickets are available for $17 in advance at www.findefiestaflamenco.com, or $20 at the door.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mould mitigation at Sicamous elementary school near complete

School District #83 superintendent says health concerns have been resolved

Snowy softball in Sicamous

The 2020 snowpitch tournament took place at Finlayson Park on Jan. 18 and 19.

Sicamous Eagles have late-season struggle ahead to maintain playoff hopes

A loss against the Columbia Valley Rockies on Jan. 18 put the Sicamous squad further in the hole.

House show in Sicamous a country cure for the winter blues

Space is limited for the Feb. 1 show from Dirt Road Opera.

Son of Stomp planned for July in Silver Creek

Previously the event was held in Sicamous for 30 years

Suspect arrested in brazen North Okanagan armed robbery

Employee suffers minor injuries from incident during the middle of the day

Osoyoos RCMP officer charged with indecent act to have RCMP hearing held in-camera

Const. Ryan Fulcher of the Osoyoos RCMP is being investigated internally for an alleged indecent act

Poll suggests some don’t think Canada should send troops to stop genocide

The findings are being released just before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Secondary dwellings in North Okanagan’s ALR not banned: Ministry

Provincial changes require additional approval for mobile, manufactured homes on farmland in RDNO

Investigation into highway barriers between Summerland and Peachland

Petition to install barriers garners nearly 15,000 signatures in just days

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Queen Silver Star’s top royal talents revealed

Three candidates named finalists following talent showcase

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read