I come from a family of risk takers, of immigrant people brimming with dreams and courage. I grew up in Delano, Ca, in a farm working family and community where hard work, persistence, and the burning desire to succeed and overcome adversity where of the up most importance. My parents’ wish for their children when they immigrated to the United States was that we would be free to choose and to live out our dreams. I chose Flamenco.
My art is a testimony of my experiences told through the rhythmic and emotional heartbeat of Flamenco. It is a coming home of all my parts: Chicana, Woman, Artist, Flamenca, Queer, first generation American and daughter of farm working immigrants. My artistic expression is motivated by the need to tell a story that integrates my different realities and is about the personal process of mending emotional scars. It is fueled by a desire for wholeness, and a need to sensitize audiences to my way of feeling. I use Flamenco as a vehicle for hope and healing, and I coin this intentional use of it as “Flamen-Cura”, originally spelled as one word, flamencura, which means full of the flamenco spirit. I have hyphenated it to highlight the word “Cura” which means to cure, and I have identified myself as a “Flamen-Curandera”, taking the traditional Mexican/Latino word for medicine woman and fusing it with Flamenco, hence a woman that uses Flamenco as her medicine. As a survivor of sexual, physical abuse/trauma and chronic illness, Flamenco has helped me to feel safe in my body as a woman and it is how I embrace and celebrate my femininity and humanity.
Many of the rhythms and themes in flamenco are profound and dark, such as the Siguiriya which is the song/dance of mourning and death or the Soleá which is the dance of solitude and loneliness. This is due to the Gypsies experience as a discriminated and oppressed culture of people. It was their cry for freedom and how they got through difficult times. It has also been my cry for freedom. Using a flamenco rooted in the Gypsy tradition as my foundation and fusing it with my identities and similar experiences of oppression, discrimination and “otherness”, I have created an original repertoire that is specific to me and validates my experience and in doing so, the experiences of other women. My dancing flamenco creates a healing energy that I believe goes beyond me and ripples in all directions of time, to the generations of women before me and those to follow.
@copyright 2017, Briseyda Zárate FLAMENCO