WHEN, in 1985, Carolyn Holden opened her Estudio de Baile Español and founded La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre in 1990, her work and performances became synonymous with Cape Town’s flamenco scene. Her sudden death in 2013 – resulting in La Rosa’s demise – rocked local dance communities into believing that without her driving energy and dedication this city’s flamenco and Spanish dance had passed away.
True, long time Spanish dance exponents and teachers Dame Mavis Becker and Veronica Williams were still in harness. But both, nearing retirement, were not quite as active as they once were.
So it is with great pleasure that I introduce Ché Adams, 24, who in 2014 formed her own flamenco dance company – Tierra Flamenca. That year her first show took place at Nassau Theatre, in Newlands. Her second was at the Garden Court Theatre in Woodstock. Now she, along with company dancers Demi, Kiki and popular flamenco guitarist Bienyameen Camroodien, are presenting their newest show Lunares at Artscape Arena from May 26 to 28 at 8.15pm.
Bursting with youthful vigour and energy Adams is so passionate about flamenco that she goes regularly to Spain for refresher courses and learnt to speak Spanish to better absorb Spanish culture. A pupil of Williams, Adams holds her Tercer Año Estudiante Flamenco (final dancers examination), as well as obtained her teachers qualification Instructor de Baile in 2010.
Asked how she became a flamenco enthusiast Adams answered, “Like lots of young girls I dreamt of becoming a ballerina and started lessons at pre-school later on attending lessons with Ingrid Carlson. Oh! how I loved classical ballet. I visualised myself dancing all the great classics until it dawned on me I was not quite the right build, nor as technically proficient as I needed to be. That was a big disappointment. To ease my heartache when my mother, Caroyn, started Spanish dance lessons with Veronica (Williams) she badgered me to join in. Somewhat reluctantly I did.”
“Among other aspects, I simply couldn’t fathom why dancers pulled such intense looks when they started dancing. However, gradually as I learnt flamenco’s history, to understand the complexities of the rhythms and technical intricacies I fell under flamenco’s spell. It wasn’t love at first lesson, but is now my undying all absorbing passion.”
Asked what Lunares means and how three dancers can carry an hour long flamenco programme Adams smiled, “Lunares means polka dots... no prizes for guessing what fabric patterns costume designer Demi uses. I do agree, three performers aren’t many. But pure flamenco is best translated in solos – it feels more true and honest. It also gives audiences an opportunity to get to know each dancer. Between Demi, Kiki and myself we have choreographed dances either in solo or group format. Among others we have a farruca, a martinete, tangos and rumba. Don’t forget the musicians. Bienyameen is a past master on flamenco guitar. We have flamenco singer Lorean – South Africa’s only flamenco singer who, happily for us lives in Cape Town. On cajon is Mandisa.
Hoping to complete her BA English and Psychology through UNISA in 2017, in between performances Adams teaches at her own studio in Hout Bay, twice a week at Dance for All in Athlone and also regularly flies to teach at Pretoria’s Spanish Dance Theatre and Academy.
While dancing with La Rosa Spanish Dance Theatre in 2011 Adams took the role of Amelia in Holden’s Bernarda presented at the Hiddingh Hall.
She was a soloist in Pena Flamenca at The Masque Theatre and performed in En El Tablao Flamenco at The Oude Libertas and at Artscape – the last shows before Holden’s death.
“No one can ever replace Carolyn, but I am determined to keep the flamenco flag flying as best as I can.”
With such dedication, enthusiasm and intelligence there is little doubt that Adams will succeed.
l Book: 021 421 7695, or 0861 915 8000. Information: tierra.flame @gmail.com