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Here at The Dance Insider, we love our cirque. Flasher, choreographer, and dancer Maura Nguyen Donohue loves it so much, in fact, that one summer she ran away to join it, or at least study aerial dance at Colorado's Aerial Dance Festival.

Maura came back with some tricks, and while you shouldn't try those at home (kids), Maura also returned with some web tips -- sites of various cirque companies and enterprises. So if you want to cyber-run away from Home and link to the cirque...just click on any of the following and we'll take you there.

Alban Elved Dance Company (Winston-Salem, NC) - www.albanelved.com - Founded by Karola Luttringhaus in Berlin, Germany. Since 1999 the company resides in the US.

Flyaway Productions (San Francisco, CA) - www.flyawayproductions.com - Artistic Director Jo Kreiter

Frequent Flyers Productions (Boulder, CO) - www.frequentflyers.org - Artistic Director Nancy Smith

Legs On The Wall (Marrickville, NSW, Australia) - www.legsonthewall.com.au

Cycropia (Madison, WI) - www.glitter-box.com/cycropia - a collective troupe.

CirKids (Vancouver, Canada) - www.cirkids.org

Project Bandaloop (San Francisco, CA) - www.projectbandaloop.org

AirDance New Mexico - www.aquilaarts.com/airdance

Ouroar (Germany) - www.ouroar.com

Stage Fright (London, UK) - http://216.156.65.111/sf/

Exponential Theater Co (Leeds, UK) -http://www.expo7.demon.co.uk/page2.html

Viva Aerial Dance Co. - http://www.vivaaerialdance.co.uk/

Aircat Aerial Arts (Boulder, CO) - www.aircat.net - Cathy Gauch, Artistic Director.

 

Here at The Dance Insider, we are inundated by press releases announcing the imminent arrival of "The Queen of Flamenco." But Flamenco Insiders know there was only one true Queen of Flamenco: Carmen Amaya.

From the moment in 1917 when the four-year-old, skinny, dark gypsy girl started accompanying her guitarist father to the seedy Somorrostro taverns, where she would sing and dance for customers who paid by throwing coins on the floor, until the day in 1963 when she died of too many toxins in her compact and fiery body (Amaya was reportedly drinking 15 cups of coffee per day, rising at 6 p.m. and dancing until 6 the next morning), Amaya was an eternal dancing flame, never dimmed.

There's no place better on the web to get an intimate, multi-media view of Amaya than Flamenco-world.com.

The site includes generous excerpts from Paco Sevilla's "Carmen Amaya, Queen of the Gypsies." In one chapter, Sevilla first recounts the popular legend of how Amaya, whose father "El Chino" finally brought her to Madrid at the urging of the great Flamenco guitarist Sabicas, made her first big splash at Villa Rosa, known as the cathedral of flamenco. "Look here," Sabicas is reported to have proclaimed, "you have among you a Catalan gypsy who does very well and knows all you could want to know about this business of dancing!" At this, a cantaor named "El Peluco" reportedly guffawed and protested: "A Catalana? She has to be a fraud." Sevilla - who doesn't necessarily endorse the legend -- continues:

"Carmen is seated to the left of Sabicas, and at her side, El Chino. Peluco's comment does not sit well with Carmen. She rises abruptly, faces the cantaor, and says to him, 'Fraud? Watch this...!' Carmen Amaya, the Catalan gypsy, breaks into a dance, while Sabicas and El Chino hum some ancient verses of soleares under their breath and their hands beat on and caress the marble tabletop. El Peluco opens his eyes in amazement. Carmen is dancing for him! There is no sounds of guitars, only an audience who knows about these things. Carmen improvises. Suddenly, El Peluco rises from his chair and, to the amazement of the rest, leans against a wall and, while beating his head forcefully against it, cries out wildly, 'Fraud, fraud?... I called her a fraud! That is what it means to dance, girl!.'

"Carmen, without stopping, comes close to El Peluco, corners him, drives him crazy... The spectators, astonished, stand on the chairs and tables in order to see the spectacle of El Peluco crying and bleeding from the wound in his forehead that he got from hitting the wall. The impassioned gypsy girl, such a little thing, has kicked off her shoes and is dancing, spitting fire from her eyes, all because they have called her a 'fraud'. Meanwhile, a voice sounds a cante, a profound cante, that speaks of passion, of mountains, sun, and bramble patches [zarzales]. Carmen Amaya, the Catalan gypsy, dances to the rhythm of that cante. El Peluco shudders and continues singing. El Peluco sings for Carmen Amaya and Carmen Amaya dances. But now Carmen has forgotten that they had called her a 'fraud,' she has forgotten El Peluco, she has forgotten everything. Carmen Amaya now dances for herself. In reality, Carmen Amaya never has danced for anybody!"

Sevilla than explores how much of this is legend, and how much fact.

If you want to get an audio sense, at least, for what drove El Peluca to bang his head against a wall, Flamenco-world.com also offers a Real Audio clip, "Alegrías (taconeo)" from the CD "Grandes Figuras del Flamenco (Vol. 6). Carmen Amaya." To be able to listen to this, you'll need RealPlayer. (Warning: the RealPlayer site is somewhat difficult to navigate, but somewhere on there you do have the option to download a free version!)

The site contains information on ordering the above book and recording, as well as Amaya's last film, "Los Tarantos," made in the last year of her life; she didn't live to see it's release.

The site also offers a general, but colorful, biographical sketch of Amaya.

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New York is not the only place where great dance -- or great dance criticism -- happens. One of our favorite dance critics is Marcia B. Siegel, currently writing for the Boston Phoenix. Siegel brings to her work a lifetime of watching dance as well as an ability to make the reader feel like he or she is with her in the theater. You can check her current reviews weekly by clicking here.

 

Here at The Dance Insider, we love our dance art and photography, but also drawings and paintings. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have a kick-ass website which is a great resource for art-lovers, featuring a database of 70,000 (and growing) images. Go to http://www.thinker.org. Scroll to the bottom of the page, where you'll find a bar for "The Thinker Image Base." Next to keywords, type in dance--and see what happens! (Hint for better viewing: Once you select an image, select Zoom 20" on the Display Options to maximize the size of the image.)

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