Fusion of East and West dances

Dances from different continents – one in Europe, the other in Asia – will meet onstage in Fort Lauderdale as two artists perform flamenco and kathak in what the producer calls a fusion of styles.

The show, Sept. 8 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, will unite two prominent performers: Clarita Filgueiras, founder of the Flamenco Puro Dance Company in Coral Gables; and Prashant Shah, head of Sole2Soul Dance Creations in New York.

They'll dance apart and together, comparing the styles. But they hope the spirit of the dance will reach into the audience also.

"The techniques may be different, but the spirit is very much alike," says Shah, who choreographs for other performers as well as himself.

Filgueiras, who has been dancing flamenco since childhood, agrees. "I've been fascinated with Indian dance. It's a beautiful art form. And flamenco is a traditional art form. I wanted to see how similar it is."

The program will start with students of the Padmasri Dance Academy in Miramar. Then, Filgueiras will dance a flamenco solo, followed by Shah's kathak solo. Then, they'll dance together.

The accompaniment will be as eclectic as the dancing. The show's producer, the Pembroke Pines-based Association of Performing Arts of India, has lined up traditional Indian instruments such as sitar and sarangi, an upright stringed instrument rather like an oversize violin. Also planned are Spanish instruments including flamenco guitar and the cajon, or box drum.

At first glance, the two styles seem to have little in common.

Kathak, born in northern India, tells a story – the name itself means "story" in Sanskrit – with fluid circular motions. Dancers often wear bracelets and anklets of jingle bells, which ring in rhythm to the instrumental music.

Flamenco, formed in Andalusian Spain, is an intense, emotional, in-the-moment style. The dancer holds a proud posture, sweeping her arms, clicking or stamping her feet, physically expressing the singer's lyrics.

Yet the two styles are connected historically through Gypsies, wandering tribes who migrated from India and settled in southern Spain as the "gitani." Filgueira says flamenco has also been influenced by Judaic and Arabic cultures.

"People have old-fashioned concepts of flamenco – that it's about someone screaming while someone else kills roaches," she jokes. "But it's really sophisticated and complex. That's why it's a good match with Indian dance."

She and Shah have never met, but they have experimented with each other's dance form, saying it helps them enrich and refine their styles. Filgueiras did a kathak-flamenco show, which she called "Crimson and Saffron," in 2008 in Miami Beach. When Chokshi decided to do the fusion concert, Filgueiras was a natural choice.

Shah, who has danced kathak with flamenco dancers before, notes how both styles use sweeping arm motions and hand gestures. But his view borders on the mystical.

"The dance is not just in the dancers' bodies, but in the space around them," he says. "The audience should not just see you dancing physically. They should also see the space around you dancing. It should be filled up with energy."

The Sept. 8 program will present Shah and Filgueiras with a sizable challenge: developing a program in 48 hours. Shah says he'll rely on instinct, a feel for the music and for Filgueiras's dancing. "The key factor will be spontaneity. I hope it will be love at first sight: her falling in love with kathak, me falling in love with flamenco."

Shah has a different goal for the concert: not to blend but to relate. "To me, fusion is confusion. I don't believe that A and B equals C," he says. "Then, you lose the originality of each. I believe in a meeting of the dance forms. When we get together, you will still see kathak and flamenco."

The two also expect a bit of sex appeal to emerge in their performance, from the obvious gender differences between male and female dancing.

"It'll be nice to have a dance of a man and a woman. There will be more sexual tension," Filgueiras says. "You'll see the feminine and masculine sides."

The two dancers have other local plans, as well. Shah will give a free demonstration of kathak dance at 7 p.m. Sept. 7. That performance will be at the Performing and Cultural Arts Center of Broward College, South Campus, 7200 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines.

And Filgueiras is laying plans for another fusion program, comparing flamenco and tango. Titled "Two Hearts — One Passion," it will start at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.

JDDavis@Tribune.com or 954-356-4730.

If you go

Event: Fusion of Flamenco and Kathak, dance performance

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 8

Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Amaturo Theater, 201 SW Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale

Tickets: $20-$55; 10 percent off for seniors 65 and older, and for students with ID

Info: browardcenter.org/apai2012 or 954-462-0222

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