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Dancing on the new flamenco wave

Montreal’s La Otra Orilla pushes flamenco’s traditional limits.


“It’s not at all traditional flamenco.” - JIM COLEMAN
  • Jim Coleman
  • “It’s not at all traditional flamenco.”

If you think about flamenco dance, your image of the form is likely quite traditional—the woman with the swirling red dress, the man in black pants stomping his feet, that percussive guitar propelling the classic motions. But more and more dancers and musicians are trying to extend those perceptions these days, Montreal dance company La Otra Orilla among them. Travelling to Halifax for the first time to perform Moi & Les Autres Wednesday night, the company works in contemporary flamenco, combining dance, music and theatre.

Moi & Les Autres is a four-person show, comprised of dancer and choreographer Myriam Allard, singer and director Hedi Graja, and two musicians. "It's not at all traditional flamenco," Allard explains. "It's very contemporary, very theatrical." The show doesn't use a narrative, but instead has a "theme that develops," allowing viewers to create their own narratives. "Every performer at one point becomes a protagonist. In that way, it's theatrical, because there is a lot of work on interpretation and presence on stage. The musicians are not only musicians in this piece, they really take on a character."

The show was developed through a collaborative process in vignettes around a theme. Moi & Les Autres is a piece about "how we relate to one another," Allard says. "How relationships can lift you and bring you to be a better person, a stronger person, or sometimes relationships can be all the opposite. It's a piece about relations with the music, with the public, with the set."

This is La Otra Orilla's third contemporary flamenco production (the company loves and performs traditional flamenco as well) and Allard has met with resistance. "Some people are really attached to the traditional format and they get really upset when that's not what's presented.

"But other people, of my generation, are trying to get out of that sort of traditional way of  doing things. There's sort of a wave that people are surfing—there is an openness to something different and more personal." She encourages viewers to bring an open mind.

Moi & Les Autres
Wednesday, March 30, 8pm
Spatz Theatre, 1855 Trollope Street

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