This past weekend, CaluJules was joined by Welsh-born dancer and Master of Performance, Josie Sinnadurai; and what a treat it was! Josie was born to two professional ballet dancers and she herself is a pro contemporary dancer. In addition, she spends extensive time in Spain where she trains with la crème de la crème of the Flamenco world.
We picked up Josie, who made the trek all the way from Montreal by bus, at Don Mills Subway Station on Wednesday evening. She arrived hungry and eager to settle-in after a long journey. Even still, she patiently waited for everyone to sit down at the dinner table so we could dine together. The next day, we started rehearsing for the Toronto Tablao show, which took place on Sunday afternoon. We had a great turn-out thanks to our flamenco-friends and the supportive Toronto flamenco community. On Saturday, Josie kindly accompanied me during all of my dance classes in Scarborough and at the Bayview Ballet School in North York. As many of you readers know, my current PhD studies focus on arts provisions in the suburbs. Through my work as an arts educator, I try my best to provide my own artistic resources to communities at the peripheries of urban centres. I can speak to the struggle of trying to keep classes going in less dense areas, where there aren’t already established flamenco schools. To have an artist of Josie’s calibre willing and able to join us out in the sprawled suburban landscape of Scarborough and North York is a rarity that has not gone un-appreciated.
Josie was no doubt an inspiration to the younger dancers at the Bayview Ballet School, all of whom train in ballet and who are learning to shift back and forth between a ballet aesthetic and flamenco technique. Josie was able to articulate flamenco movements using ballet vocabulary, which helped the students execute the desired outcome quickly and efficiently. For the ladies, Josie worked on marking steps, showing us how to mark with precision and dynamics. In addition to this, she also showed us one-legged turns. I can honestly say that, even with the dance training I have already received, my pirouettes have never been better; especially not when wearing flamenco shoes which can be awfully slippery! With detail and clarity, Josie broke down where to place our weight, how to use our arms, and how to hold the torso firmly. In the end, it actually felt easy!
I’ll readily admit that working side-by-side with Josie was a humbling experience. She too is an entrepreneur, organizing and managing all of her gigs during her self-made tour; and yet she continually stays in tip-top shape with regular dance conditioning exercises. Collaborating with Josie last week was an enriching experience for Calu Jules and we highly recommend that other flamencos consider working with her too! If you’re a flamenco school, do consider bringing her on board for guest workshops. You won’t regret it!
We wish Josie all the best for the month of July, and we look forward to working with her again during the Little KW Flamenco Festival. To all flamenco enthusiasts in and near the Waterloo region, don’t miss out! Join Josie, Julian, and me at our Flamenco workshops and closing show, July 30th to August 2nd.