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Next up in our Discover Dance! series is Karen Flamenco Dance Company. We sat down with Artistic Director Karen Pitkethly to chat about her dance career, the inception of her company and what we can expect during their upcoming performance.
When and how did you discover flamenco?
I discovered flamenco at a summer dance intensive that I attended at Arts Umbrella in 1991. I then went on to study under the guidance of Rosario Ancer at Centro Flamenco here in Vancouver. I fell in love with the mystery of the art form. I was so curious to learn more about the relationship between the singer, guitarist and dancer, the intricate rhythms and Spanish culture of flamenco dance.
Briefly describe your dance career to date.
Flamenco slowly became my everyday. I walked through any door that would open whether it be teaching or dancing. Eventually I was dancing at local flamenco dance venues 4 evenings a week, and teaching as much as possible. I took a few trips to Spain to study from many different artists, learning as much as possible. In 2009 I opened my own dance school in the heart of Mount Pleasant and am still there. The Karen Flamenco Dance Academy now runs two studios and a small traditional Tablao theatre. We train students to become teachers and professional company dancers. As well as adult students our dance school teaches over 80 children and we have a junior intensive company training program. All of the dancers in our current company have gone through our junior company training program to become teachers and professional dancers in our company. With the Karen Flamenco Dance Company I produce two shows a year. Our Fall production tends to be a collaborative effort where we hire dancers in a different art form to help highlight the similarities between dance worlds and expand flamenco to wider audiences. Some of our past productions include: Grease, The Magic Flute, Carmen. Our Spring Production is our year-end showcase for all the dancers in the studio, from our 3 year-olds and up. I usually place the classes into a themed show such as Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella to make it a fun experience for audiences and all involved.
Tell us about the work you’ll be sharing for Discover Dance!
For this production we will be showcasing both traditional and modern flamenco dance numbers placed into a short story. I will be placing some of our favourite dance numbers into a fun storyline which takes place in a doll maker’s store, and the journey two dolls follow. We are fortunate to have Gerardo Alcala play flamenco guitar and singer Justine Reinhart join us. Our dancers will include company members and a few of our up and coming dancers from the Junior Company program.
If you didn’t have a career in dance, what might you be doing?
Hmmm? I did do a degree in fashion design and still have a passion for anything fashion or costume-related. Probably something in that realm – I need to be creating.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I am not Spanish 😳 My background is Scottish and Ukrainian 🙂
What is your next project?
Currently we are working on the Nutcracker Suite which will be presented in our newly-built Tablao. A one-hour flamenco dance interpretation of the holiday classic, all set in a traditional style flamenco tablao. Live flamenco music and song mixed in with the favourite Nutcracker music. This cabaret-style theatre seats up to 30 audience members. Spanish wine and tapas are served to give you an authentic Spanish experience. This will be taking placing every Friday evening through November and December.
The Dance Centre presents the Discover Dance! series
Karen Flamenco Dance Company
Wednesday November 23, 2022 | 12 noon
Scotiabank Dance Centre
Photos by David Cooper Photography