Late this summer, she reserved the dance studio at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and invited her friend, a singer/songwriter, percussionist (and fellow Flamenco dancer), Barbara Jo York to come along for the recording session. Both ladies teach within the Centro Flamenco de Pittsburgh program, and told me that although the Flamenco community here is small, it’s certainly growing. They felt it important to underscore a niche of global culture in Pittsburgh by sharing these tones within the project.
I asked Carolina how she learned Flamenco. “Performance is just part of my nature. I started taking Flamenco classes in college.” I also asked her to tell me some things about Flamenco dancing that most people would not know. “It’s interesting–the dance form was born out of resistance–it came from a group of people who were outcasts in Spain at the time of the Catholic Inquisition. It’s a mix of dance from people who were Gypsy, Jewish and the Moors–it’s comprised of many traditions melting together over a period of several centuries. Flamenco has the lament (“lamento” or lamentation form) at its core. This music and dance expresses grief. The other thing I’d share with people is that Flamenco is not just one dance-it’s a family of about 40 rhythms. This very complex artistic expression has an array of histories, rhythms, people and stories behind it.”
My personal favorite of the tones has playful rhythmic lyrics–the Toma que Flamenco Tone. “The Spanish verb ‘tomar,’ is to hold something,” Carolina said. “It works well as a ringtone, I think because in Spanish you’d say something like ‘Toma el telefono’–‘Take the telephone.'”
The second tone we recorded was the Flamenco Alegria Tone–a purely rhythmic dance piece.
Thanks to Carolina and Barbara for contributing the first dance (and probably only Flamenco) tones to the project! And thank you Pittsburgh Center for the Arts for allowing us to record this tone in the dance studio.