Paco Peña *Photo supplied
Paco Peña *Photo supplied

Bermuda will be the first ­country to see flamenco legend Paco Peña’s latest show.

Mr. Peña is regarded as one of the world’s foremost traditional flamenco players and has been ­instrumental in keeping the art form alive and relevant.

His show Flamenco Vivo makes its debut at City Hall Theatre next Monday as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts. Marrying traditional flamenco with modern and universal influences, the dancers and musicians are free to artistically express the passions within themselves rather than sticking to the rigid structures of traditional dance.

A jovial Mr. Peña, who is looking forward to his first visit to Bermuda, told the Bermuda Sun: “The concept behind this show is being honest and open about ­development within flamenco — it is a live culture that is not strictly written down or decided — it changes with time.

“I want to show off the strong traditional elements that exist in the music and the dance but also to show contemporary ideas. We speak of a very strong ancient tradition but are acknowledging and using different ideas from around the world.”

Born in flamenco’s spiritual home of Andalucia, Mr. Peña moved to London in the ‘60s to make his mark. The Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, formed in 1970, is made up of his own hand-picked troupe of ­musicians, singers and dancers who are all of Andalucian ­descent. They have travelled the world in a succession of groundbreaking shows.

Flamenco Vivo features three dancers — husband and wife Angel Muñoz and Charo Espeno — and Ramon Martinez. There are also two guitarists including Mr. Peña, one percussionist and two singers.

Mr. Peña talked about the qualities he looks for in his team members: “Charo has been with me quite a long time. Sometimes a show is not ­appropriate for a particular dancer but Charo is so ­elegant, tall and beautiful and malleable and I can project many ideas onto her.

“Respect for tradition is essential in my company — when I say respect, it is an inevitable connection to tradition — heavy duty ­flamenco artists. At the same time they have to be open enough to go along with my ideas. I chose them with the artistic quality that ­allows me to do that.”

In his career, Mr. Peña has ­performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the world ­including New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

Beyond his world-class performances, he also founded the first ever flamenco university degree 25 years ago in the Conservatory of Rotterdam and created the first ever guitar festival in his home town of Córdoba, Spain. Accompanying the festival is Mr. Peña’s Centro Flamenco — the centre that organizes the festival as well as flamenco workshops and activities.

For all his ­efforts he was named Oficial de la Cruz de la Orden del Meriti Civil, an honour bestowed upon him by King Juan Carlos of Spain.

His career has not only taken him to some wonderful places but he has also had the opportunity to meet a host of musical stars; he once shared the stage with Jimi Hendrix at the Royal Albert Hall.

Mr. Peña recalled: “He was quite an impressive man if ever there was one. You knew you were in the presence of someone with great character and authority about what he said.”

Mr. Peña is currently working on a much larger and more ambitious project than Vivo Flamenco which explores the cultures of South America.

He said: “We have plans to tour Australia later this year. I hope to come to Bermuda with that as well.”