Ché Adams really wanted to be a ballerina when she was little, but when she started taking flamenco lessons alongside her mother at the Wilvan School of Dance, she was beguiled by the Spanish dance form.
A trip to Spain after matric sold her on the idea: “If I could, I would dance all the time,” she said.
Since this isn’t possible, she is studying English and psychology through Unisa, running her own dance school with the help of her mother in Plumstead, and dancing part time with La Rosa Dance Company.
She tackles the role of lead dancer in La Rosa’s forthcoming performance …en el Flamenco Tablao, with the “tablao” referencing a wooden stage.
This production has been choreographed by the Madrid-based choreographer Eliezer Truco Pinillos, also known as La Truco, who came to Cape Town last year to work with La Rosa.
Adams is familiar with La Truco’s work, having attended workshops with her in Spain, but says it was still quite intense to have one-on-one lessons with the flamenco mistress.
“Her English is not that good, and my Spanish is not that good, but there were people to translate.
“She taught the choreography to everyone and then went in-depth on the characters with the dancers and the story we were trying to dance,” explained the 21-year-old.
Being able to draw on Geoffrey Hyland’s acting lessons from working on Bernarda (she played the Amelia character) also came in handy.
“Each of us has our own character and most of us play dancers which we can relate to, but we still have to act,” she explained.
…en el Flamenco Tablao falls somewhere between Bernarda – which was a theatre piece which used the flamenco dancers to act out specific scenes – and La Rosa’s earlier work such as Peña Flamenco, which drew on the idea of a social get-together of flamenco dancers.
So Tablao has a narrative of sorts, as the dancers act out a story, while still getting the chance to show off their dance skills.
Adams’s character is that of the diva who wants everyone to watch her shine and the setting is a restaurant where people come to drink, eat and watch a show.
“There’s a mix of customers and little stories that develop throughout. So there’s a bit of a love story, and two guys who fight over a woman. And it’s Spain, so there’s lots of drink,” said Adams.
She distinctly remembers watching a La Rosa show as a teenager and being enamoured of a black and white costume and thinking that she’d love to wear something like it. Now her wish comes true as the dancers are using some of the more elaborate La Rosa costumes from years gone by to supplement the 1940s costumes they’re using on stage.
“That helps us as characters. Each person, whether my diva or a guy watching the dancing, has a character and the costumes and the hair and the make-up are from the 1940s.”
The show explores the Spanish nightlife of that time and while the costuming will set the scene, it’s up to the dancers to draw the audience into the story: “Flamenco is about the emotion and the feeling, more than the steps,” said Adams.
• …en el Flamenco Tablao is on at Artscape from Thursday to February 23. Tickets: R120 to R140 at Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat: 021 421 7695.