The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) presents Noche Flamenca’s Antigona, their critically-acclaimed work fusing flamenco and Greek tragedy, March 12 at 7pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. Adapted from Sophocles’ Antigone, and starring Bessie-award winner Soledad Barrio as the lead, Antigona looks at repression, heroism and loss in a fiery, multi-media spectacle.
“Antigona tells a powerful story of grief and defiance through the passion and poetry of flamenco,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “Soledad Barrio and the extraordinary artists of Noche Flamenca express the universal themes of this work with a beauty and artistic integrity that not only helps buoy our faith in humanity during difficult times, but re-instills the importance of art as a means of resistance against tyranny.”
Formed in 1993 by Artistic Director Martin Santangelo and his wife Soledad Barrio, Noche Flamenca celebrates the rich Spanish tradition of flamenco. Described as one of the most authentic flamenco troupes in the world, Noche Flamenca regularly travels the globe, performing in cultural centres from New York to Buenos Aires and countless places in-between. Called “a force of nature” by The New York Times, Barrio has won multiple international awards. Among such accolades, she was a recipient of the Bessie award for Outstanding Creative Achievement at the New York Dance and Performance Awards, and in 2015 was honoured with Dance Magazine’s Exceptional Artist award.
Noche Flamenca’s reimagining of Antigone was the brainchild of Martin Santangelo. After witnessing a modern New York staging of the ancient play, Santangelo was struck by the plight of its lead character, a strong-willed woman embattled by the state. He drew parallels between this story, which was penned around 441BC, and the 2010 court case of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón. The judge was suspended for his efforts to publicly recognize those who resisted General Francisco Franco. Garzón gave permission for families to bury their relatives previously left in mass graves under Franco’s controversial regime—a dictatorship that lasted from 1939 until his death in 1975. Garzón’s wish to honour the deceased echoed the myth of Antigone, and to Santangelo it served as a stark reminder that the 2500-year-old tale is still relevant today.
Two years later, after immersing himself in the poetry of Sophocles, Santangelo began developing Antigona alongside Barrio. Honouring the Greek tradition of sung poetry and musical accompaniment, he translated and re-wrote the text into lyrics. Themes of repression, loss, family and female empowerment are present in both Sophocles’ work and within the artform of flamenco. For Barrio who lived through General Franco’s regime in Spain, the story resonates on a deeper level.
In this multi-disciplinary work, audiences will enjoy electrifying scenes of dramatic song and dance performed by a talented collective of dancers and musicians, including guitarists Eugenio Iglesias and Salva de Maria, as well as an array of voices who guide the narrative as it unfolds.