The dance of life | Ingrid Sciberras

We speak to Ingrid Sciberras, director of Alegria Dance Company – which specialises in flamenco – ahead of their upcoming production, Una Forma de Vivir, taking place at the Salesian Theatre, Don Bosco Street, Sliema on 1 and 2 December.

The upcoming show by Alegria Dance Company, Una Forma de Vivir (meaning ‘A Way of Life’) aims to express the all-encompassing lifestyle of flamenco. Photo by Stephen Busuttil.
The upcoming show by Alegria Dance Company, Una Forma de Vivir (meaning ‘A Way of Life’) aims to express the all-encompassing lifestyle of flamenco. Photo by Stephen Busuttil.

What makes flamenco appealing to local dancers?

Flamenco dance has been growing in Malta for a number of years now, with more visiting artists coming to give workshops and perform. Direct flights to Andalucia have also made it easier to go and experience the real thing.

The Maltese are very musical and therefore understand beats a great deal. Our cultural similarities may also have an influence for the attraction of the art. It could be a number of reasons. However, the Mediterranean passion and our fiery characters fit in perfectly with the role that exists in flamenco and I find this may be the major attraction that the Maltese have with this dance form.

What would you say is flamenco's enduring appeal, when compared to other forms of dance?

I would say that it is its freedom. Flamenco, just like any other dance form, has its own discipline, however it is not restricted with particular requisitions such as age or size. Fitness is a necessity, but it also requires a sense of security with oneself and an attitude which portrays the endurance of hardship. The dance can be very intense, thus facial expressions normally bring out a lot of emotion from within the dancer who transmits to the audience.

This is the freedom I mean - that each dancer can be capable to dance freely and release his or her emotion, yet keeping to a discipline which requires a lot of stamina, sustenance and suppleness.

What would you say are some of the key elements of 'Una Forma da Vivir', and what do you hope audiences will get out of the show that's perhaps different to previous Alegria productions?

Una Forma de Vivir - meaning 'A Way of Life' - has a very significant part in the world of flamenco. Every gypsy flamenco will tell you that it is a way of life... you must live it in the street, in the bar, in any religious function, in the festival, in the village square, its everywhere and its everyday of your life. I want the audience to understand that we all have our lives to live and everyone chooses their own pastimes, yet those choosing flamenco are making it part of their lives... they find the time to fit in their class once or twice a week, even though they have children, husbands and careers to deal with, and it has become their way of life.  The first half of the Performance will be called 'Vivir' - to live - and this is what the members of the academy will be doing, living through dance.

What led you to single out the figure of the woman as a prominent element of the show?

The second part of the Performance is called 'Mujeres' - Women. The idea came about when myself and Estelle - my colleague at the Academy and the Director of Choreography - were talking about our lives and how we grew into women quickly because of our childhood experiences; how the teachings of life are transferred from generation to generation.  

It was then that we decided to work on a project centred around women. This section will be performed by the Alegria Dance Company and will have 10 women represent five different walks of life - the well-off woman who does not need to work, the academic struggling with studying, the career facing competition and deadlines, the young teenager, full of energy and rebellious and the mother figure portraying hardship, pain and maturity.  

Apart from the company members, there is a group of six senior dancers choreographed by Mavin Khoo who will be portraying the unity of all women within society.

The fact that we are portraying women does not mean that flamenco is feminine-centric at all and there are many famous male flamenco dancers. Regrettably, there are a very few Maltese men who take up flamenco. Which is a pity, because it is in fact a very 'macho' dance... 

Performances start at 20:00. To book tickets to call 99 495187 or email [email protected] For more information on Alegria, log on to their website.