The Gustavian Weekly

GAC experiences culture of Spain through Flamenco

By Kim Krulish Staff Writer | November 1, 2013 | variety

Students and professors alike enjoyed Zorongo’s performance of “Sol y Luna.” Gus Murrillo

Students and professors alike enjoyed Zorongo’s performance of “Sol y Luna.” Gus Murrillo

Music, dancing, tradition, culture. All this and more was presented at the exotic Zorongo Flamenco event on Wednesday, Oct. 30 in Alumni Hall.

Attendees were treated to an exciting experience and a chance to see first-hand the sultry traditional Spanish flamenco dancing. The event is a recreation of the ambience of Café Cantante of the 1900s in Spain, when flamenco dancers, singers, and musicians would perform for patrons in cabarets.

Zorongo Flamenco is a dance Theatre and school based in the Twin Cities. Founded by Palma in 1982, it is one of the American Spanish dance companies that presents traditional flamenco and original work. The company and its ensemble of artists are renowned for bringing the culture of Flamenco to American audiences.

Zorongo Flamenco combines the traditional dance of Spain with the spirit and innovativeness of America. The company mixes social justice with the arts and the performers dance in a traditional style that portrays modern life. Zorongo Flamenco also works to relate to contemporary audiences in a way that few others do.

Organized by Spanish Professor, Ana Adams, with support from the Office of Marketing and Communication, the event was open to the public, and was filled with traditional Spanish Flamenco dance and music. The show ran about seventy minutes without intermission.

Antonio Arrebola, Deborah Elias, and Colette Illarde danced to music by master guitarist Chuscales, vocalist Vicente Griego with choreography by Susana di Palma, founder of Zorongo Flamenco. Three of these performers were guest artists: Arrebola and Chuscales are from Spain, and Griego is from New Mexico. These three flew to join the group in the Zorongo’s Arts Flamenco Show, which is supported by the State Arts Board’s Arts Tour Minnesota program and the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Amendment funding. Gustavus is one of seven Greater Minnesota communities to receive the show this year.

The name “Sol y Luna” means ‘sun and moon’ in Spanish. In this case, the sun and the moon symbolize passion, and the heat and the cold that they symbolize  bring out the spirit and feeling of the dance. This particular presentation will also be performed at the Ritz Theatre in Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 8.

“There will be more focus on traditional flamenco dance.At this department, students come to study Spanish, so this event is part of the cultural aspect of the curriculum of our program. We want our students to learn more about and experience international cultures in every way possible. Since I am Spanish-born, I always try to bring flamenco to Gustavus whenever I can. This type of event doesn’t come to St. Peter very often, but we like to find unique performances to  present to our students,” Adams said.

Senior Dance Major Rebecca Stewart can personally attest to the captivating ability of the performers.

“I actually saw Zorongo once in high school and got to take a workshop from Susana di Palma, and was absolutely captivated by their presence and the way they are able to carry themselves in the dance,” Steward said.

Zorongo Flamenco has performed at Gustavus in the past. On Feb 23, 2009, the company performed, “An Evening of Flamenco,” with dancers Palma, and Sachiko Nishiusi, guitarist Pedro Cortes, and singer Jesus Montoya. Adams herself has both collaborated and performed with Zorongo Flamenco before as a singer and the company notified her of the opportunity for this event.

For more information about the Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and School and other events, visit the school’s website