ballerina to bailaora: a gypsy soul evolution…
When planning the new-look-launch of A Passion for Dance Magazine, I was seeking something out-of-the-ordinary…an artist who exemplified a dancer’s passion…an artist with extraordinary dance-perspective.
In researching and planning – my own dancer’s spirit kept calling me back to (my own) roots in Flamenco. Flamenco was the dance-genre which entered my life unexpectedly (even reluctantly) but overtook me, and resonated so intensely with my desire to express my (dancer’s) self through the deepest, purest form of soul-filled emotion.
At the age of 17, enrolled at the insistence of my mom, within my first class…this soul-rich, ferociously deep genre became the backbone to all the other dance-forms I performed, taught and choreographed. (My mother, no doubt, had her own intuition as to the destiny of my dancer's soul!)
It is incredible how synchronicity can come into play when one expresses to the universe and the laws of attraction bring us our wishes ;-)!
A wish…a game-plan…a swift coincidental connection…my new-launch premier desires & Artist-Interview falls gracefully into place.
Enter a Dance-Artist…Ms. Karen Pitkethly – training steeped in Ballet, and Contemporary – who through random action, reveals to herself, an internal destiny of a Gypsy’s spirit…to transcend from Ballerina…to Bailaora*.
Ms. Karen Pitkethly
photography: lorilee jane keller
photography: david cooper
The back-story to how I connected with the fabulous west-coast based dance company, Karen Flamenco, and its prolific Artistic Director, Ms. Karen Pitkethly, is as amazing, as is the story of this unique and diverse company immersed in Flamenco with infusions of other genres and stylings.
For now – the focus will be on my recent interview with Ms. Pitkethly…but I will share this – our back-story reminds me that anything is possible ;-)!
And as for Ballerina to Bailaora?
Another example of the universe’s resounding possibilities:
In Dance…In Joy…In Life…Enjoy!
Ronelle Roode-Brothers, Editor/Owner - A Passion for Dance Magazine
* Definition - Bailaora: Flamenco Dancer
AP4D interview’s: KAREN FLAMENCO…
AP4D: Share with us a bit about your dance background…
My Dance training started in ballet. I studied the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) ballet training from the age of 5 through to teenage years and then went on to become a registered RAD ballet instructor.
Later I went on to study Modern dance technique through Simon Fraser University – working in Martha Graham and Contemporary dance training.
My first introduction to flamenco happened in Vancouver at a summer dance programme. It began as a hobby and eventually turned into a profession. Consumed with the desire to learn more I travelled to Sevilla, Spain to take classes and be inspired from watching performances. I joined a local flamenco dance company and trained intensively with continued trips to Spain to further my knowledge. I continue to travel to Spain on a yearly basis to stay technically savvy and see what the current trends are.
In 2009, I opened my own dance studio in the heart of Mount Pleasant and have been teaching flamenco to dancers of all ages. I was also able to build a dance company of committed strong flamenco dancers showcasing professional level productions in Vancouver. This company performs 2 productions throughout the year at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre. Karen Flamenco has gained recognition in the Vancouver dance scene with their interpretation of popular storylines such as “Romeo & Juliet”, “Swan Lake” and this season’s “West Side Story” November 28th & 29th at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre.
photography: david cooper
photography: david cooper
onstage involves many moments which are derived from the soul, the inner spirit
– Do you have a particular memory that had a profound (emotional) effect on
you? A moment that felt exhilarating? Or
a moment that deeply moved you?
One dance that I perform quite regularly is called “Alegria”.
Alegria literally means “Happiness”. There is a singer that I work with regularly named Don Jose Lara – he is 82 years old and originally from Madrid, Spain. When he sings “Alegria” for me something magical happens. We touch the audience and are able to charm our audience to feel “Alegria”.
For me it is always about the audience’s reaction. If I can reach them then they will give back to me and make me perform at my best.
Another emotion or moment that comes to mind is the absolute overwhelming proudness I feel at the end of a production. To see the audience overjoyed by watching something that we have created. The absolute joy of seeing dancers that have worked so hard throughout the year on stage performing to their best ability. Quite often I am holding back tears while supporting them with palma’s (hand clapping) and jaleos (shouts of encouragement) Ole!
What was it that drew you to delve so intimately with Flamenco – to establish such a devotion to this genre?
The desire to learn more. Flamenco is such an intricate art form that one needs to devote years to learning. The complexity of the music and patterns and the beautiful culture behind it is what drew me in.
There is a fantasized picture that I feel many girls envision of the free spirited “gypsy” girls dancing passionately. Yes, this was also part of the attraction however one year into learning this dance one realizes that it takes complete devotion and study to master. There is not so much room for the whimsical aspect. To become a professional flamenco dancer you will need to develop strong musicality, technique and the passion to learn. I never intended to make flamenco my livelihood – flamenco chose me.
As the years moved on – and in your life legacy to other dancers & artists - What would your personal quote/motto be?
Stay true to your vision, follow your dreams and love your life.
“There is no greater feeling than moving to a piece of music and letting the rest of the world disappear.” - unknown
photography: david cooper
Anything else you’d like to share?
One of my goals in what I do is to bring flamenco dance more into the forefront. Flamenco is a rather new dance form to North America often unknown and misinterpreted.
I am surprised at the amount of people I come across that do not know what flamenco dance is. Flamenco has been gaining more popularity within the past 20 years thanks to multi-media and touring acts.
Having grown up in a Canadian dance academy structure I have chosen to interpret flamenco dance much the same way a ballet company would. Flamenco has a vocabulary much the same as ballet and can be used in the same manner.
Another objective that I try to attain is the level of flamenco in Vancouver and to celebrate the local talent. Canada, in general, has a high level of flamenco musicians and dancers that should be highlighted and enjoyed as much as an artist who comes from Spain.
There seems to be a lot of attention on bringing in talent from Spain and selling flamenco in this manner as opposed to celebrating the immense talent right in our own backyard.
Personally, I am thrilled
and excited to follow Karen’s artistry, dedication, and plans to further
establish the Art of Flamenco within the west-coast and Canadian Arts &
Thank-you to Ms. Karen Pitkethly, Artistic Director of Karen Flamenco! – Ronelle, Editor/Owner – AP4D
Photos below are from performances by Karen Flamenco - the Company and Young-Artists from her Studio.
Please Note: Errors or Omissions are unintentional.
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