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DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: Emilio Ochando Prepares Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana for The Joyce Theater and The Hollywood Bowl

DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: Emilio Ochando Prepares Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana for The Joyce Theater and The Hollywood Bowl
Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram
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Published on June 12, 2024
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. Photo: Steven Pisano

Tradition, Innovation, and New Projects

WHO: Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana

WHERE: The Joyce Theater

WHEN: June 18 - 23, 2024



Appearing at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic on August 8, 2024


Speaking of Alegrías, his favorite flamenco palo (style), Emilio Ochando says with a mischievous grin, “For me, it suits my personality. Alegrías is full of joy but also of restlessness, of taste, of intention, and, also, there’s a rogue element,  a…mmm…I’m here!” 

At the age of three, Ochando pronounced to his mother in Valencia that he wanted to dance: “Fue serio, serio, serio y. Y lo empecé así y todo. Así que en mi familia, mis abuelos, muy aficionados, sobre todo mi abuelo, era muy aficionado al cante y todo el.” (“It was serious, serious, serious. And I started like that in my family, my grandparents, who were big flamenco aficionados, especially my grandfather, he was very fond of singing and all that.”)

Roberto Lorca and  Carlota Santana,  co-founders of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, with Melinda Marquez. Photo courtesy of the company

Now living in Sevilla, Emilio Ochando is becoming a multi-percussionist and a choreographer in demand. While his specialty has been castanets, he taught himself to play spoons during the pandemic. This year, he designed a jacket covered with bells. Now he is exploring ways for Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (FVCS) to manipulate shawls as though they were the train of a skirt. All these elements are all integral to his new work EQUILIBRIO (Clásica/Tradición) for FVCS’s season at the Joyce Theatre June 18 - 23, 2024. His unusual score was composed with Daniel Jurado and features Boston-based-multi-instrumentalist Gonzalo Grau playing live.

Emilio Ochando with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana at work. Photo: Alec Himwich

Ochando’s EQUILIBRIO balances innovation and tradition, with three sections devoted to danza española, flamenco, and coplas, songs derived from poetry that flourished in the 1930s/40s. Inspired by his grandmother’s love of folklore, he is dedicating EQUILIBRIO to her. For example, cascabeles (bells) to Ochando conjures up the image of the shepherd.  "Es un elemento también muy antiguo que se utilizaba para llamar a los animales.”  They are a very old way of calling animals. 

Ochando is not only preparing for The Joyce Theater season, but he is also choreographing for FVCS and invited artists to perform Maurice Ravel’s Bolero and Suite No. 2 from Manual de Falla’s Three Cornered Hat with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on  August 8, 2024.

Emilio Ochando of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana at LePoisson Rouge. Photo: Christopher Duggan

This bonanza of fresh approaches has become FVCS’s signature. When Carlota Santana started FVCS in 1983 with Bobby Lorca, she had just returned from two years studying and working in Madrid where she met Margaret Jova, an enterprising American dancer. 

Emilio Ochando of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana at LePoisson Rouge. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Known for initiating in 1992 an annual showcase for young choreographers, El Certamen de Coreografía de Danza Española y Flamenco, Jova also produced in 2010 the stunning fashion show at the Guggenheim Museum “Dressed To Dance,” that focused on the relationship of flamenco with the avant garde.  In 2013, these two friends, Jova & Santana, decided to award one of the Certamen contestants a “Flamenco Vivo” opportunity to choreograph / teach / perform on tour with FVCS. Ochando came to NY in 2016, as a result of the Certamen/FVCS exchange. That link to the Certamen ensured FVCS a means of staying current and flowing with our ever-changing ideas on virtuosity. The disparity between the American and Spaniards’ flamenco training and grasp  of nuances of the art led to FVCS developing évolucion, a mentor program to prepare US flamenco dancers for the world stage.

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