• Bailamos Flamenco!
Students learn Flamenco at the Casa Patas master class

12/8/2011

The sounds of stomping and clapping drowned out the subway trains running below Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre last week. A master class in flamenco gave Suffolk students the chance to learn this ancient art from Casa Patas, a renowned flamenco group from Madrid, Spain.

Flamenco incorporates dance, cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), and palmas (hand claps). An intense, passionate art form, flamenco reflects Spain’s rich history and culture.

Letting go with Flamenco

“It only works if you give yourself entirely to it,” explained Marilyn Plotkins, theatre professor and artistic director of the Modern Theatre. “It’s a wonderful way for students to get in touch with their emotions. Flamenco helps take their natural rhythm and blow it through the roof.”

Jose Barrios, Casa Patas’ artistic director and choreographer, led the students through about 90 minutes of increasingly more complex movements. They were accompanied by half a dozen musicians. At the end, students were treated to a private performance by Barrios and Ana Gonzalez, another dancer.

“The master class was a very special opportunity for our students to engage with some of the best flamenco artists in Spain,” enthused Plotkins.

Bringing Spanish tradition to Boston

In addition to teaching the master class, Casa Patas also gave a public performance that evening to a sold-out audience. The show, “Flamenco Algarabia,” featured special guest Arturo Sandoval, the legendary jazz trumpeter and Dizzy Gillespie protégé.

For the past five years, Casa Patas has visited Suffolk as part of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Distinguished Visiting Scholars series. The series brings acclaimed scholars, writers, artists, and activists to campus to interact with and exchange ideas with the Suffolk community.

Casa Patas also partners with Suffolk’s Madrid campus. Students studying abroad can take an intensive course in flamenco that includes 35 hours of instruction at the Casa Patas studio.

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