Paco Peña brings flamenco spirit to the Chan Centre

Possibly the most creative hub on campus, the Chan Centre will be the next stop for Paco Peña, one of the world's most renowned flamenco guitarists and his cherry-picked gang of dancers, singers and musicians.

Flamenco is an iconic Spanish artform that incorporates singing, dancing and guitar playing which is supported by a percussive rhythm made by hands and fingers. 

“It's exciting to watch flamenco. It's voice, it's instruments, it's dance, it's the combination of things,” said Joyce Hinton, co-managing director of the Chan Centre and responsible for programming Paco Peña in the Chan Centre Presents Series this year. The dramatic dance coupled with the expressive singing and amazing guitar really creates the “duende” of flamenco.

“Duende” in Spanish is a mythical elf-like creature and, in flamenco, it refers to the soul — a heightened state of emotion and expression. 

"Every performer really tries to experience their performance and their connection with the audience. When they feel like all of it is aligned, everyone is feeding off of everyone,” said Hinton.

This is the ultimate goal of flamenco: To engage the audience, feed off of its energy and relay it back. It is an endless loop to giving and taking which is what makes flamenco so lovable.

The dramatic dancing with stunning dresses adds a theatrical flair to flamenco as well as the emotional voices singing in the beautiful Spanish language. The percussive guitar puts everything together and supports the dancing and singing. These are the “duende” of flamenco.

Hinton’s favourite part of flamenco is the singing, even though she does not understand the lyrics. 

“It is the singing, but it's also being accompanied by brilliant guitar playing and dancing — it just touches me," she said. "I found it so poignant.”

“[Paco Peña] respects the traditional flamenco which is hundreds of years old, but at the same time, he innovates as well,” said Hinton. 

The versatility and diversity that Paco Peña represents is the theme of this year’s Chan Centre Presents Series. The performance is at 8 p.m. on October 24, with a pre-show discussion at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are available online.