My first experience with flamenco was in a crowded nightclub in Granada, Spain. Strolling the narrow streets earlier that evening, my friends and I met some outgoing Spanish girls who led us to a noisy white-walled cavern where, at one end, a lone bailaor with standard-issue jet-black pony tail began stomping a rhythm on a tiny stage—it might have been a plain wooden pallet—with a lone guitar accompanying. "This is for tourists!" the girls sniffed, but I was entranced, as the dancer's heel-crashes thundered in the small space and his proud movements radiated charismatic force over the heads of the assembled drinkers.
Flamenco fans, and those who haven't yet fallen under its spell, can rejoice at the residence here of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, reputedly the nation's foremost Spanish dance company, established in New York in 1983 and claiming the Triangle as its second home base since 1996. Founder and artistic director Carlota Santana brings this treasured art form to students at Duke, where she serves on the faculty, and to local schools with community outreach. —Marc Maximov