Next month, Toronto's flame-coloured autumnal palette will be set ablaze by an inferno of Iberian passion, as Russian-born Yana Maizel – one of Europe's leading flamenco performers – returns to Toronto for the North American premiere of MY NAME IS NOT CARMEN, a remarkable fusion of theatre and dance, poetry and music, philosophical discourse and personal revelation.
The epigraph for the show is "Life is a train station. I'll soon be going, but where I cannot say," which is taken from a poem by 20th Century Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva. Yana Maizel's own journey has taken her on a convoluted and at times improbable route from St. Petersburg, the city of her birth, via Toronto where she grew up and studied, to sunny Spain, where it was that she discovered a rare and unlikely gift for flamenco. But where did that gift come from? There was nothing in her genes to suggest that this dark spark would be ignited in her soul.
So what exactly caused a young Russian Jewish girl to be seduced by the lure of a far-off and unfamiliar culture, and prompted her to abandon the comfort of home to master the art of flamenco? It is said that only those who have experienced suffering, loss, or burning passion can truly understand and dance flamenco.
Words penned by Yana are interwoven with the poetry and prose of others. She also employs an interesting mix of languages, including Russian, English, Spanish and French, all woven organically into the musical canvas of the performance, which is itself a fusion of various melodies and rhythms, with virtuoso Spanish guitar juxtaposed against Rachmaninoff vocal works and the clicking of heels that is so integral to flamenco.
Yana's journey through doubts and fears, dreams and hopes, is also a voyage of self-discovery punctuated by an epiphany, when the realization dawned that, whatever else people thought she was, Yana knew that she was, in fact, Carmen.
Show One Productions in association with Toronto International Flamenco Festival present the North American Premiere of MY NAME IS NOT CARMEN! Compagnie Errances, Flamenco Theatre, France, tonight and tomorrow, November 8 & 9, 2012 @ 8pm. Conception, Choreography and Performance by Yana Maizel. Musical Creation, Guitar and Cante by Thiago Vasquez. Cante and Palmas by Cristo Cortes. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East.
Ticket prices range from $35 - $65 and can be purchased in-person at the St. Lawrence Centre box office, online at www.stlc.com or by calling 416.366.7723. For more information visit www.showoneproductions.ca.