Colmena Flamenca

Ana Maria Cornejo in performance at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, Flamenco Certamen USA 2021. Photo: Lisa Greenberg

Year: 2021-2022
DanceForce Member: Carlota Santana
Artists: Leslie Roybal, Carlota Santana
Community Partners: Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana; Lake Placid Center for the Arts; NY Public Library for the Performing Arts
Audience: 243
Counties: Essex. New York

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana’s project, Colmena Flamenca (Flamenco Hive), is a two-tiered development program for rising flamenco artists. Composed of the Artist Development Series (ADS) and Flamenco Certamen USA, the Colmena Flamenca nurtured rising flamenco artists in their path to deeper learning within the art form while providing them with integral tools necessary for a professional flamenco practice. Together, these two programs offered a unique trajectory for rising Flamenco artists. ADS supported an artists’ transition from the studio to the stage and the Flamenco Certamen USA provided the opportunity to perform. This project had particular significance in that no support of this type currently exists for dancers wishing to enter a professional practice with flamenco as the central focus.

The Artist Development Series was a year-long program serving fifteen (15) flamenco student artists chosen through an application process and selected based on an exhibited commitment to artistic growth. The artists attended virtual group and one-on-one meetings to discuss their goals, challenges, and practices with peers and program director, Leslie Roybal. They took online and in-person classes featuring a network of professional artists and live musicians from both the U.S. and Spain. Course studies include foundational flamenco technique, flamenco music and history, among many other focus areas. Each artist was assigned an established professional mentor with whom they worked regularly over the course of six (6) months. In small groups and one-on-one, mentors supplied artists with integral skills and feedback to develop their own baile (dance solo). The year culminated with a 5-day in person residency at Flamenco Vivo’s Studios where participants worked with live musicians, took daily technique class, and explored new choreographic practices which culminated in an open showing (June 26-30, 2022).

The Flamenco Certamen USA competition took place at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the NYPL for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on October 15, 2021. Eight (8) selected finalists competed for cash and other prizes in two levels: Estudio (student) level and Tablao (pre-professional) level. Prior to the competition, the finalists attended a weeklong residency at Lake Placid Center for the Arts in Lake Placid, NY, where they received daily classes, mentorship and individual studio time in preparation (Oct 9-14, 2021). Working one-on-one with esteemed professional flamenco dancers, Fanny Ara and Briseyda Zarate, and musicians, Jose Moreno and Pedro Cortes, each finalist was given the opportunity to not only develop their choreography skills but build relationships with experts in the field. The intimate space of LPCA gave finalists the opportunity to engage and develop relationships with one another, altogether promoting a positive and supportive learning environment. On October 13th, the finalists performed an informal dress rehearsal for the community members of Lake Placid inside LPCA’s main theater. This opportunity gave the finalists a chance to rehearse their competition dances in front of a live audience.

“Flamenco Vivo took us to a sacred place in ourselves to work and transform.” – Joanne Bockemuehl, Participant