One of the highlights for this year’s Mullum Music Festival is the sensational Arte Kanela, Australia’s foremost flamenco ensemble. Featuring Richard and Johnny Tedesco, Manolo Jaen and Chantelle Cano, this is a collaboration that has shared the stage with The Cat Empire, Kate Ceberano, and seen them feature on Dancing with the Stars, Spicks and Specks and The Panel. Chantelle spoke with The Echo about the magic that fuels her and ARTE Kanela.
How would you describe your passion for flamenco?
Flamenco is a way of being. It’s like a wave of energy, an interaction with love, pain, wit, irony, culture, the absurd, the beauty… all the things I love and enjoy about life… You get the idea.
You started at just four years of age. How does a little girl engage with such a dynamic and perhaps intimidating dance/music form?
It wasn’t anything too extraordinary, actually. It was as simple as my mum taking me to a flamenco class and, for some reason, I connected with the feeling it gave me… Even at an early age, I just liked it. It made me feel empowered. I felt like it gave me an opportunity to get in touch with my sensitivities and I felt emotionally connected in a way that gave me the incentive to pursue it, almost crave it.
What do you think is one of the greatest assets of Arte Kanela?
A complete dedication to the art of flamenco in all its glory, living as a flamenco between Australia and Spain, and the fact that we have known each other for a very long time.
When you are dancing, where do you try to take your audience?
I try to transmit to the audience. My role as a flamenco artist is to transmit – what I have to say, what I am dancing to, whatever is going on in my life, what I am feeling at that moment… I try to connect and transmit this to the audience. To make them think and feel as if what I am doing is part of them too.
Unlike most dancers, your movement and sound are part of the music when you are dancing. Are you aware of yourself as a human instrument?
Flamenco dance involves musicality in order for you to be aware of that wave of energy I was talking about earlier… that interaction. You need to be aware of the singer, the guitar, the structure… to be in touch with everyone on stage both musically and on an emotional level in order for inspirations to bounce off one another. For me, the fact that as a flamenco dancer I have movement and sound, I guess, matches my temperament and lets me express what I love about flamenco.
What do you think is most remarkable about the Tedesco brothers?
They’re very flamenco. They are incredibly talented, with an extraordinary level of dedication, very creative and true artists. In Spain, it’s a form of endearment to say to a flamenco ‘Eres muy flamenco’ (‘you are flamenco’)… and these guys are really flamenco in every aspect of what they do.
How would you describe the onstage connections of Arte Kanela?
In the pure nature of what flamenco is, you need to be able to almost have this way of reading each other’s minds. We’ve known each other for such a long time that this makes every performance unique and allows us to be inspired by one another and allow our art to connect with our audience.
What should we expect for your show at the Mullum Music Festival?
We always love when the audience connects with our art form. We will transmit raw emotive flamenco and take our audience to join us on our wave of energy. Ole!
Mullum Music Festival 21–24 November