Dancing for cancer research | Ingrid Sciberras

Alegria Academy – the only school in Malta specialising exclusively in flamenco dance – will be holding its Academy show next weekend, proceeds of which will go towards cancer research through the Malta Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT). We speak to Alegria’s director Ingrid Sciberras about Aire Flamenco, which will showcase the Academy’s work alongside musical collaboration with Walter Vella.

Aire Flamenco will take place at Teatru Salesjan, Sliema this weekend
Aire Flamenco will take place at Teatru Salesjan, Sliema this weekend

Why do you think the Maltese dance scene boasts a strong flamenco element?

Over the past decade flamenco dance has become very popular, with more students showing an interest to take up this dance form. There are various reasons for this attraction, the main one being that the Maltese temperament is perfect for the mood and expression of flamenco. We have had many locals who left Malta for Spain to make a career out of it and many others who went to Spain for a number of months or years to study intensively. 

Recently we have also invited various flamenco artists to perform in our local theatres or to give workshops, thus intensifying its popularity.

How would you say Alegria has evolved over the years? What are some of its most notable factors as an Academy, and how will these come across in the school?

Alegria was founded in 2000 by Rosana Maya and since 2009 has been taken over by myself. It is now Malta’s only dance school which specialises in flamenco dance and has since seen an increase in students. Occasionally it offers specialised courses in other dance genres like Indian Classical Dance and now also boasts a class in flamenco percussion. 

It regularly invites flamenco artists to give intensive workshops at the school and is a member of Jerez Puro Internacional, alongside, Paris, Germany, Spain and Italy. This collaboration concentrates on giving the Senior Dance Company Members intensive training. Jerez Puro performed at the Manoel Theatre in 2013 with two members of Alegria Dance Company as guests. 

Being a specialised school, we give our students a very sound foundation of flamenco including its history, song and music. We train our students in stage presence and prepare them to be able to take courses in Spain. 

We annually attend the Festival de Jerez and many students from Alegria achieve great results.  Above all, our intention is that all students enjoy themselves whilst learning the authenticity of flamenco dance.

How will the Indian elements be incorporated?

Although there is not much evidence to support this, but there is enough to say that the roots of flamenco dance are from northern India, from the gypsies of Rajasthan and a lot of moves in flamenco are influenced from Indian classical dances, as are the colourful costumes. Having lived in India myself, I had enough time to be able to research this and attend some Indian classical dance classes.

For the first time in Malta, Alegria will be presenting four of its local students who, in the forthcoming performance, will be displaying a short piece of Bharat Natyam, one of India’s many classical dances and choreographed by Mavin Khoo.

How would you describe your collaboration with Walter Vella?

Since my first Academy production as director of Alegria, I have always wished to have an element of Music with some of Malta’s great talents. This year the performance will welcome Walter Vella who will be playing the flute and saxophone. These instruments, being air instruments have a connotation with the title of the performance and also will give a jazzy feeling to the evening.

What will audiences get from this particular performance?

I would like the audiences to appreciate the hard work that all the members have gone through to be able to give the public a true feeling of pure flamenco. All the choreographers have trained in Spain and are all members of Alegria Dance Company and they have brought out the best in all of their groups.

Although predominantly flamenco, the audience will have a variety of moods, music and visuals to enjoy. There will be a display of a variety of drawings of our dress rehearsal by Jeni Caruana. Proceeds from the tickets sold will be going towards cancer research through RIDT and the whole performance will be dedicated to the memory of Sharon Sapienza who dedicated her life to Spanish dance and Flamenco.

Aire Flamenco will take place at the Teatru Salesjan, Sliema at 20:00 on November 29 and 19:30 on November 30. Bookings: 99495187, [email protected] 

More in Theatre & Dance