World premiere of Solaz

Flamenco artist La Tania and the Presidio Theatre present the world premiere of Solaz, a new multimedia flamenco work July 21-23, inspired by the extraordinary history of the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

By Scott Horton

Flamenco artist La Tania and the Presidio Theatre present the world premiere of Solaz, a new multimedia flamenco work July 21-23, inspired by the extraordinary history of the Egyptian Temple of Debod. Built in the second century BCE, the Temple was rescued in the 1960s during the flooding of Nubia, when Egypt was constructing the Aswan Dam. The ancient Temple was cut into pieces and transported to Madrid, where it was reconstructed and now serves as a beacon of cultural survival in the face of global displacement. Solaz combines dance and music, intertwined with poetic visual imagery, creating a sensory journey evoking personal and universal messages of hope, renewal and impermanence. Three performances will be given Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22, at 7 pm and Sunday, July 23, at 4 pm at the Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco. Tickets, priced $15-$45 may be purchased here.

The creation of Solaz is rooted in La Tania’s own lived experiences with displacement, her empathy for others and the humanity and solace of origin and place. As a child, La Tania travelled and moved frequently. As a mature artist, she relocated halfway around the world to San Francisco, which would be her home and creative base for three decades. More recently she was displaced, like many artists, by the escalating costs of living and working in the Bay Area. Having lost her San Francisco home and studio to gentrification, she returned to Spain, where she is currenlty living in Seville.

“Dance has often allowed me to speak the unspeakable, and the emotional realm of displacement is very real for me, so this project is particularly poignant,” says La Tania. “Traveling and moving often throughout my life, I grew up with the idea that it was normal to be in constant flux. But dance has always been with me, it’s my home, where I find solace. It’s been magical working on this new choreography in Sevilla, but I look forward to returning to San Francisco soon to finish creating this beautiful show with my friends from throughout the Bay Area arts community, with gratitude for life’s gifts and the kindness all around me.”

Solaz is choreographed by La Tania, with artistic direction by La Tania and Adrián Arias. The evening-length work features dancers Melissa Cruz, Cristina Hall, La Tania, and Mizuho Sato, with composer and guitarist José Luis de la Paz, singer José Cortés and oud player Gary Haggerty. Solaz is supported by grants from the Creative Work Fund and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

About La Tania

La Tania has spent more than four decades setting the international standard as an innovator and icon of traditional and contemporary flamenco. Her work has earned her top honors and recognition including prestigious Choreographers Fellowships from both the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Artistic Excellence, the Arts Achievement Award for Contemporary Dance from San Francisco Focus, as well as many grants from agencies and foundations including The National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, James Irvine Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and others.

Her creative spark and keen ability to tell stories through movement and music have long inspired La Tania to lead collaboration on special projects as dancer and choreographer with Carlota Santana Flamenco Vivo Company in New York, Theater of Yugen, the Flamenco Society of San Jose, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco in Santa Fe, Adrian Arias Illusion 5, a multidisciplinary project at the De Young Museum, Rupa & The April Fishes at the Independent in San Francisco, Opera Parallele, San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and other artists and organizations.

La Tania began her professional career at age 17 dancing and touring with multiple companies in Spain, where she grew up traveling the flamenco world watching her mother and others perform. It became her life’s passion. Early in her career she danced with Compania Juan Quintero, Ballet Raul performing in Mallorca, Greece and Ibiza and performed at Esfoguero in Mallorca under the guidance of Alberto Lorca. From there she moved on to dance as a soloist in the major Tablaos of Madrid, such as Canasteros, La Venta del Gato and the prestigious Corral de la Moreria where she performed for many years, eventually becoming its star dancer. She performed as a featured artist at Zambra and Casapatas as well. She continued her studies with various masters of flamenco dance like Merche Esmeralda, Cristobal Reyes, La Tati, and most notably Ciro, whom she considers her greatest influence; and began touring as a soloist with some of Spain’s most renowned Flamenco companies. Traveling with Paco Peña, Mario Maya, Los Flamenco Somos Asi and others, La Tania danced throughout Europe, North Africa, Japan and Mexico.

In 1991 La Tania started her own company in Madrid and in 1993 performed in California, where she decided to relocate. The company toured extensively, presenting many programs and bringing renowned artists from Spain such as Rafael Campallo, Belen Maya, Jose Anillo, Andres Marin, Juan Antonio Suarez “Cano”, Enrique el Extremeno and Jose Luis Rodriguez.

She is currently in Spain creating the world premiere of Solaz.

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