Live performance is a gift. It is a magical, fleeting experience that can never be duplicated or exceeded. Not even by the most advanced digital wizardry or precise cinematography.
If performance is so momentary, so transient, so impossible to recapture, what on earth makes people want to work so hard to do it? Why spend all that time and effort for something that will only ever happen once? And why would people want to go see live shows when they could park themselves in front a screen at home and watch TV?
I grew up in the world of creating shows and I have always been utterly fascinated by how it is so obviously about “making magic happen”; a kind of magic that can only happen when you are there.
I have the privilege of being close friends with many of Vancouver’s flamenco artists and in November 2007, I was asked to join the members of Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre as they took their show “Feria de la Costa” on the road. We traveled to Sechelt, a community on B.C’s Sunshine Coast, to share the experience of live flamenco as part of Caravan World Rhythms’ new series of dance-related events.
And so, combining three of my passions – blogging, flamenco and performance – I jumped ship at Edie Hats for a day and a night to hitch a ride with the group led by my friend Kasandra “La China” and to record some of what it takes to put up a flamenco show and create the magic of live performance.
Any live show is built to support and present the performers who are what we might call the point of contact for the audience.
A show arises out of the confluence of skills, techniques, ideas and expectations. All of the preparation – the years spent studying and practicing the art form, the science of lighting, stagecraft, costume, sound, even the organization of people, equipment and food – is a necessary part of the creation of a performance. This immense effort is all aimed at coming together for a few brief moments of exchange between the presenters and the audience.
What results is a living, breathing, fluid thing that happens “Right Now”. At its best it is a transcendent in-the-moment experience for both the performers and the audience. Improvisation and spontaneity, all the so-called mistakes, are vital parts of the visceral magic of live shows and the reason people make them happen.