Maria Vazquez and Guests Celebrate Flamenco in Raices

Maria Vazquez and Guests Celebrate Flamenco in Raices
Flamenco Denver
Growing up in her native Spain, Maria Vazquez was involved in dance from a young age. She remembers dancing as early as age three, and was partial to ballet. Her mother, a former dancer herself, signed her up for flamenco classes when she was eight.

The training was rigorous, Vazquez recalls in a 2020 interview with the University of Denver. "We had all different classes, like ballet and folkloric [dance]...and flamenco. But I stopped for a while, because it was too much. I had to go dancing three days a week plus Saturday morning. I liked to play with my friends." She returned to more serious study of dance around age thirteen.

After completing a degree in Spanish Dance at the Conservatory of Dance in Seville, Vazquez traveled across Europe performing with the Ciudad de Sevilla dance company, then continued to perform and teach in Spain until moving to Denver in 2002. Two years later, she opened a dance studio at 1934 South Broadway called Flamenco Denver, where she is the executive and artistic director.

Vazquez, a recipient of DU's Legends of Dance in Colorado honors, will perform later this month alongside a plethora of international flamenco talent in a program called Raices (Spanish for "roots") at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts.

Flamenco has its origins in southern Spain in the nineteenth century, and was mostly associated with Gypsy culture in its early years. Although the dance has had a somewhat varied history with Spain, intertwined with the country's social and political movements, today it enjoys a renewed appreciation for its cultural and artistic value.

In her interview with DU, Vazquez explains that Spanish classical dance requires a sturdy foundation in ballet, among other things. She likens flamenco to jazz in its complexity and the need for improvisation and communication in its execution.

According to the University of Denver website, Vazquez formed a professional company in 2015 to bring renowned guest artists to complement her company's performances in the community. For Raices, she's bringing together a mix of flamenco artists from Venezuela, Canada, Cuba, France and Spain, as well as the United States, who "will explore the roots of Spanish culture through [flamenco's] unique combinations of sound, beauty, and movement."

In addition to the Legends of Dance honors, Vazquez and Flamenco Denver were showcased in the recent documentary Three Worlds, One Stage, directed by University of Colorado Denver professors Jessica McGaugh and Roma Sur. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Raices takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 21, at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue. For tickets, $25 to $45, and more information, visit the Newman Center website. Learn more about Maria Vazquez and Flamenco Denver at the Flamenco Denver website.
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