Bridging Community during COVID-19 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Photo by Betty Hum. Misael Barraza Diaz at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. October 18, 2020

Flamenco Intimo’s third season at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts brought audiences together safely for the first time in months. The show explored themes of isolation, boundaries, connection, distance, and community. Stark lighting created distinct regions on the stage, separating performers to create a tension that culminated with a return to levity and togetherness at the end of the show.

Photo by Betty Hum. Julia Chacon at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. October 18, 2020

Director, Julia Chacon worked with Musical Director and guitarist, Misael Barraza Diaz to create a show of traditional flamenco incorporating flute by Diana Schiable and vocalist, Olivia Rojas. The intimate show featured solo and duet work by Chacon with accomplished dancer and founder of Calo Flamenco, Martin Gaxiola and soloist, Bernadette Gaxiola.

Photo by Betty Hum Bernadette Gaxiola at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. October 18, 2020

Opening with Fandangos Naturales each soloist dancer performed a verse in an isolated pool of light. As the piece built, the three dancers were revealed to culminate in footwork together, but still distanced on stage. Every dance number was separated by music featuring the guitar, vocals, and flute in turn. Bernadette Gaxiola performed a sultry and dynamic Solea por Buleria. Chacon and Martin Gaxiola danced a Seguiriya that revealed each dancer in turn across regions of the stage. They changed places and reached for each other; rhythmically joined, but never to meet. Martin Gaxiola danced a powerful Alegrías with virtuosic footwork during which he coaxed the audience through a light journey with his dynamic personality. Chacon danced GranaínaGuajira with a manton de Manila (a large shawl) and bata de cola (train dress). It started with a very dark stage with Chacon in a pool of light upstage. As the piece evolved, Chacon passed through a scrim and the stage lights opened, representing a breakthrough from darkness into light.

Photo by Betty Hum. Brooke Merwin at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. October 18, 2020.

On October 18th, the series offered a family matinee featuring soloist, Brooke Merwin, age 16. A student of Chacon’s for five years, Merwin is the youngest soloist in Julia Chacon’s Flamenco Theatre and an emerging artist in ballet and contemporary.

The series was a showing of community and hope at a time that is very dark during the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences were seated with six feet of distance between groups and sanitizing protocols in place. The series was also livestreamed on October 10th and 18th, offering the opportunity for audiences to attend regardless of physical distancing.

Scottsdale Arts was the first to return to live theater during the pandemic. Their commitment to supporting artists and persevering during this challenging time is an inspiration and sends a message of hope and strength to the community. Scottsdale Arts is among the largest performing arts organizations in the state. They are committed to presenting quality programming and supporting the development of the arts in Arizona.

All photos by Betty Hum.

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