Durban – Taking a trip down memory lane and showcasing all styles of Spanish dance as they celebrate 35 years. That’s Memorias Flamenca, the annual production of the Linda Vargas Spanish Dance Company, at the UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music from December 14 to 17.
This week, founder of the dance company and legend in the Durban dance industry Linda Vargas told The Independent on Saturday that while the festive season show was a rich celebration of 35 years “bringing together the best in terms of dancers, musicians and choreography”, it was also about taking dance into the future.
“Memorias Flamenca will see the launch of our new young dancers project Siyanda (Zulu meaning ‘we are expanding’). The show will include some fresh interpretations of previous highlights, some old favourites, but also some new contemporary choreographies,” she said.
Having started ballet classes when she was 5 years old, Vargas fell in love with Spanish dance when she was 10 and went to a show featuring Spanish dancing.
“I know children are exposed to dance on social media, but it is not the same as going to a live performance and it’s important children get to experience this for themselves.
“With our new young dancers, Siyanda is just the beginning. I have been working a lot with schools and inter-cultural dance.
“We all go back to that primal stamp dance and have taken on many forms and cultural patterns. I have been looking for the commonality in different dance styles and stamp dance is making the links. It’s all very exciting and we will be launching this next year,” said Vargas, who completed her Master’s degree in the multicultural origins of dance.
As an example, the castanets used in Spanish dance have their origins in ancient Arabian dance form. As well as flamenco dance, Vargas also performs folk, traditional, classical and neoclassical styles of Spanish dance.
When she was younger, she would practise up to eight hours a day, but has now reduced it to two hours a day.
Vargas has travelled all over the world, as well as touring South Africa extensively over the last 35 years.
“I have examined dance styles all over the world and I’m always fascinated by the beauty of traditional dance in all its forms. I love being surprised and finding dance that is breaking the boundaries, pushing the edge technically or artistically.
“I’m very easily inspired by anyone who shows a level of excellence whether in dance or music. I love music and work closely with musicians in every production. I drive them nuts because I also like to push the boundaries and Durban has some amazing talent in dance and music.
“Dance is almost like an act of meditation, a connection between mind, body and soul.
“When you dance, it can be very profound and powerful. Whenever you give someone a rhythm and they start to use their feet, within a few minutes they are dancing. No matter what your age, the response is the same,” said Vargas.
Memorias Flamenca will be backed by musicians Demi Fernandez and Neil Gonsalves, joined by Bryan Stone on percussion and singing by Gemma Schumann.
There will be four shows, with performances at 7pm and a final show at 3pm on Sunday, December 17. Tickets are R130, students and pensioners R100 and can be booked through [email protected] or contact 031 201 0750 (mornings only).
The Independent on Saturday