A fusion of flamenco and poetry, of old and new | Bettina von Brockdorff

Pasión is a dance production from Maltese company, Inspiración Flamenca. TEODOR RELJIC interviews Artistic Director Bettina von Brockdorff, who has headed the group since its foundation

Bettina von Brockdorff.
Bettina von Brockdorff.

Could you tell us more about how Pasión came to be?

As is evident from the production's name, 'Pasión', reflects and portrays the passionate dimension of flamenco and Spanish dance - passion through expression. Many times our perception of Spanish dance and flamenco is that of the depth and extent of expression in the dancing, singing and music.

The original idea for this production came to me with the above ideas in mind. In my opinion, passion is the most marked and striking aspect of flamenco and Spanish dance. The second idea was to combine different passions. These are from the artists involved in this production. Caroline Caruana and Robert Scicluna will be performing with me as soloists. Acclaimed author and poet Walid Nabhan will be participating as guest artist.

There are a number of styles for flamenco dancers. Caroline and I have had full-time training in Spain, after being awarding the Malta Arts Scholarship. The Spanish dance and flamenco styles that will feature in Pasión are danza estilizada, 'puro', or traditional flamenco, and 'nuevo', or modern flamenco.

What sources and concepts did you draw on for the show?

Certainly the choice of music and the costumes is essential. The music must complement the styles being portrayed and the type of expression being reflected and transmitted to the audience. The music in the show is extremely diverse and certain choices may be rather unexpected. On the other hand, the costumes have been made both locally and in Spain.

Another valuable source was the artists' individual experiences and knowledge. The extensive use of the Spanish dance and flamenco accessories, including castanets, the tail skirt, the flamenco shawl and fan will be seen. These accessories contribute to a vibrant and holistic performance.

During the show, will you be drawing on traditional flamenco elements or playing with new concepts?

It is essential, I believe, to incorporate traditional flamenco elements, those of puro flamenco. These are going to be evident, particularly in the second act through the 'palos'. However, concepts of danza estilizada - classical Spanish dance, which is seldom performed - will also be in the first act. On the other hand, new concepts will be explored: modern, contemporary and percussion concepts of flamenco will also be fused together.

What led to the decision to include Walid's poetry?

I have known Walid for several years now and have followed his writing and poetry. In general, I find his writing extremely intriguing and particularly enriched with intense imagery. For this reason, I asked Walid to write a poem in Maltese related to flamenco a few months ago. The path of discussion led to the conclusion that while this poem is recited, I will dance an innovative choreography, creating a fusion between the poetry and the dance. This is a novel concept for the dance scene in Malta.

Tickets are available from www.sjcav.org or at the ticket booth at St James Cavalier, Valletta. The performance will be at St James on 28 September at 20:00.


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