SummerDance August 18 FLAMENCO Preview- Meet Wendy Clinard

Chicago-born and internationally recognized Clinard Dance will teach and perform Flamenco as part of SummerDance Chicago 2019

SummerDance August 18 FLAMENCO

Editor's Note:  Read the related story-- 
DCASE Presents 23rd Annual CHICAGO SUMMERDANCE– Preview

Sunday, August 18, 4–7 p.m.

Spirit of Music Garden
Grant Park
601 S. Michigan

Clinard Dance has operated a school in Pilsen since 1999. They offer classes in dance as well as singing and they host many guest artists.

SummerDance August 18 FLAMENCO

Now in its 19th season, Clinard Dance has toured nationally and internationally to India, Syria and China, and has built a strong base of audience members and students at home in Pilsen and throughout the US. Milestones include a MacArthur Foundation award for a yearlong choreography project in Pune, India, as well as a premiere of new works with Chicago Sinfonietta for their 2016 season at Ravinia Festival and Symphony Center.  Recent venue and festival highlights include Dance St.Louis' Spring to Dance, The National Museum of Mexican Fine Arts, and Colorado's Vail Performing Arts Center.


When you dance flamenco you are part of the band!

More, the history of this dance form speaks a lot to the themes of our time.  So explains Wendy Clinard (WC) to Picture this Post (PTP) readers in this preview of her group’s performance in mid-August at SummerDance.  She also says, “We use flamenco as a jumping point to make art,” says Wendy Clinard, founder of Chicago-based Clinard Dance, who also dances in the quartet. “We are rooted in music and dance, and are trying to harness that traditional interplay, which, at a minimum, is between singer, guitarist and dancer. There’s a real specific structure in that, but what we’ve also done is taken that structure and raised our heads to include what’s happening here in Chicago and how we can incorporate that.”

SummerDance August 18 FLAMENCO

“What’s happening here isn’t unlike what was happening in Spain 500 years ago when this art form was coming together where there were a mix of cultures from all over the world exchanging ideas”

The Flamenco Quartet Project (Wendy Clinard, Marija Temo, Steve Gibons and Jose Moreno) presents two 45 min sets with an intermission. In the sets there is a guitar solo, trio pieces and the dance uses various "props" i.e. shawl, fan work to diversify the program.

(PTP)How did you get started in this type of dance?

(WC) Many performers discover their love of dance by watching one of their favorite dancers on stage, or by hearing a piece of music for the first time.   But I came to flamenco 26 years ago by way of drawing a friend in her flamenco rehearsal. My drawings did not compare to the experience of sitting there observing the art form.


How and when did Clinard Dance and Flamenco Quartet first come together?  How much do you rehearse together?  Do you all have other “day jobs”?

Clinard Dance, now in it’s 19th season, began our Flamenco Quartet Project in 2014 dedicating the project to artistic excellence and exploration. The Flamenco Quartet Project, seeks to engage with contemporary culture through vibrant performances that honor traditional flamenco and a shared passion for music and dance discovery.

We include composers, arrangers, improvisers and choreographers, each bringing a range of cultural influences to the group, from Gypsy jazz to klezmer; flamenco and classical Arabic and Spanish art forms.

Our group includes dancer Wendy Clinard, violinist Steve Gibons, vocalist/guitarist Marija Temo, and vocalist/dancer Jose Moreno. Pending performance deadlines, we rehearse anywhere from twice a week to 5 times a week; we are all full-time artists.

We program with a clear vision of visual and sound dynamics i.e. pieces that are strong, linear and fast as well as other pieces that are quiet, poetic and angular. Jose Moreno, who dancers, sings and plays percussion, caja, also dances both solo and duo pieces


How many musicians are in your group?  Types of instruments? Vocals?

In flamenco, the dancers are also musicians because they use their feet percussively. Steve Gibons plays violin, Marija Temo plays guitar and sings, Jose Moreno plays caja, sings and dances and Wendy Clinard dances and sings.

Steve has a great history in gypsy jazz and classic jazz with a specialty in Balkan sounds. Marija has a strong classical Spanish repertoire on top of just being a first-class flamenco guitarist and singer. José Moreno dances, plays the caja, sings and plays guitar. There’s this fluidity between these seemingly disparate parts of flamenco, and since there are just four of us, we really get a chance to explore it.”

One unique aspect of The Flamenco Quartet Project is that each member can support each other and the compositions in different ways based on their versatile skill sets; this makes for a kaleidoscope of shifting foregrounds and backgrounds through the pieces so that there is really no delineations between musicians and dancers; they are always functioning as a whole both visually and musically.


Have you performed at Summer Dance before?  How do you adapt your set to a dance lesson/outdoor venue type situation?

We have not performed at Summer Dance. I have taught in outdoor settings for large audiences in the past. Many of my students will come out this August to help in the pre-show dance lesson. Students will be on the floor through out the sets to encourage the public to join in and give them some guidelines for how to do it.


What’s the most challenging part of teaching this type of dance in a setting like SummerDance with newcomers at all levels of dance experience?

The most challenging part is to get the “intimacy”. The intimacy (smaller group sizes) helps really convey the subtleties and most important “internal” training that so much defines flamenco. However, working with a larger group for a short time can generate so much energy and we use a lot of “call and response” in these settings so that the movement is driven exclusively by the rhythms. This can be a great introduction to the art form in that it gives the participants a chance to “feel” the interconnectedness between the rhythms and movements.


What’s most fun about a performance like this?

Being outdoors and getting the public to join in and dance with us. This invitation generates so much energy and changes the way we perform in comparison to traditional theater environments.


Do you mainly perform in Chicago?

Summer 2019 performances for us are all outdoors and all in Chicago! Here is a list:

July 31st, Aug 8th and Aug 9th .Clinard Dance’s Flamenco Quartet Project is pleased to be part of Chicago Park Districts Night Out In The Parks Series. We’ll perform in 3 parks throughout Chicago this summer, check it out!

McGuane Park 2901 S. Poplar Ave. Aug 9th, 6:30p.m.

Pasteur Park 5825 S. Kostner Ave Aug 8th, 6:30p.m.

and Kelvyn Park 4438 W. Wrightwood Ave. July 31, 1p.m.

Photos courtesy of Wendy Clinard

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