August 22, 2023Flamenco Festival with the RCA & Jhoely Triana

The RCA is getting ready to bring the vibrant art of Spanish flamenco to the Okanagan. Flamenco dance holds a wealth of cultural heritage and significance, tracing its roots back to the 18th century. Helping us bring this rich form of dance to the RCA is Jhoely Triana, a Vancouver-based flamenco dancer and choreographer. Together, we’ve planned two days dedicated to this centuries-old Spanish art; with a free flamenco workshop at the RCA and the outdoor performance of “Flamenco in the Park: Arboles with Jhoely Triana”. Don’t miss your chance to experience the fiery essence of flamenco right in the heart of Downtown Kelowna! 

Join us on September 28th and 29th to immerse yourself in the incredible world of flamenco dance! Both days are free to attend, with RSVP required for the Introduction to Flamenco workshop.  

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Jhoely Triana trained at the Goh Ballet Academy, completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance at Simon Fraser University, and studied at Al Mozaico Flamenco and Rosario Flamenco. She has presented work at the Victoria Flamenco Festival, Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, BC Culture Days, and many more. Jhoely's work emphasizes connection to the audience through the authenticity of emotion and vulnerability. 

We chatted with Jhoely about her involvement with this festival and where her passion for flamenco began. 

“I am Colombian and have always listened to and have been exposed to Flamenco as it is common for Latin Americans to hear some Spanish music at home,” says Jhoely. “I started my dance training in Canada with ballet and then in contemporary dance at SFU.” 

Following a break after sustaining dance-related injuries, Jhoely decided to take up a new form of dance - Flamenco. 

“In one of the first lessons I took, I heard a song lyric that said ‘Triana, Triana, que bonita esta Triana’ (Triana, Triana, how pretty is Triana) which led me to take a trip to Spain to see where my last name comes from. Triana is a neighbourhood in Sevilla in Andalucia which is well known for Flamenco, with lots of history tied to it. I was hooked and upon returning, I knew this dance form was meant for me.  I don't have a way to track down the official family tree back to Sevilla, but I carry the name with pride.”  

Jhoely’s passion for flamenco is evident – despite it being the most challenging type of dance she has ever done both in its physicality and musicality. 

“In flamenco, you are a musician, you must learn about the guitar, the tones, the singing, the different song forms, the rules of the song forms, how to call and respond to the music, how to be part of the band; and this band never plays it the same twice. It’s a very complex structured improvisation and on top of all that one has to be fierce, beautiful, strong, elegant, explosive, and gentle all at the same time. It’s a form that lets you age with grace and dignity.  Flamenco is about the deepest emotions of the soul, and it pulls at every heartstring: the joy and celebration as well as the sorrow and darkness.” 

On Friday, September 29th, you can discover a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure at Rhapsody Plaza, situated near the Dolphins - "Flamenco in the Park: Arboles with Jhoely Triana," an extraordinary performance that beautifully merges the passion and grace of flamenco dance and music with contemporary themes of resilience, hope, and community. For the last few years, Jhoely has been creating this work with the help of Dance West Network’s Des Arts Dehors/Arts Outside program and mentor Rosario Ancer. 

“I have known Rosario Ancer for many years as a student of Flamenco Rosario and as an emerging flamenco dance artist performing in the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival since 2017.  Dance West Network and Rosario Ancer approached me with this opportunity to bring the Flamenco Festival to Kelowna and I'm thrilled to be presenting my work in the beautiful Rhapsody Plaza.” 

The work uses the metaphor of trees to represent how we must honor our roots and gather strength from our past to reach new heights so that we can share our lived experiences with our community and spread the seeds of empathy and compassion. We can’t wait to be swept away by Jhoely stunning performance, accompanied by Peter Mole on guitar (Toque) and Maria Avila the singer (Cante). 

Want to learn the art of flamenco for yourself? At 7:30 PM on Thursday, September 28th, join us for an introductory Flamenco workshop in the Salloum Studio at the RCA. This beginner-friendly class will walk you through the various elements of flamenco, teaching you fundamental steps and concepts, including hand and arm movements, hand clapping, marking steps, footwork, and enthusiastic flamenco shouts of encouragement (Olé!). 

Special thanks to the Canada Council of the Arts, Dance West Network, The Hamber Foundation, and Jhoely Triana for funding support for the Flamenco Festival. 

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Flamenco Festival with the RCA & Jhoely Triana