Big in Japan—and Halifax

Dancer David Romero returns to Halifax for the Atlantic Flamenco Festival.

Romero, back by popular demand.
Romero, back by popular demand.

David Romero
Friday, November 4, 9pm Saturday, November 5, 1pm

Thirty-two years ago David Romero was at home in Andalusia, located in southern Spain. His mother was in the kitchen singing along to flamenco music. Romero began dancing, and didn't stop.

Now an accomplished flamenco dancer based in Barcelona, Romero was a featured artist at the Atlantic Flamenco Festival in 2012. This week he's back by popular demand.

"Halifax loved him, it's one of the most successful shows we've ever had," says Maria Osende, the Atlantic Flamenco Festival's artistic director.

"Flamenco is rooted in the Spanish government's oppression of gypsies," says Osende. The style, which has been around for over 200 years, is a "release of emotion."

Romero splits his time between Barcelona and Tokyo, saying that flamenco is big in Japan. He speaks Japanese and Spanish and spends a lot of time working and living in Tokyo, so the culture informs his work.

A recent performance, "Porque No? (Why Not?)", featured Romero wearing a kimono and a long flamenco dress. The dress is called barta de cola and requires honed technique to manoeuvre and dance with.

"Everybody is surprised, no matter where I go. It's not just the dress—I'll dance with a fan or with a shawl, too," Romero says. "I use a lot of feminine things."

Romero is one of the first male dancers to wear a flamenco dress while performing. He added the dress, which is traditionally only worn by women in flamenco, to his wardrobe in 2004.

He credits world-renowned flamenco dancer Joaquin Cortés with starting the trend about 20 years ago. Romero also designs and makes his own flamenco outfits and also makes them for other dancers. It's been a passion of his for years.

Though the reaction he gets to his style is largely positive, there have been people who respond negatively to some of his more feminine styles because of how traditional flamenco is. He doesn't let it bother him, though.

"It's very vulnerable and fragile," Romero says. "If I weren't able to be open, I couldn't be a flamenco dancer." —Allie Graham

Maria Osende translated for Romero.

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