Kara “La Picante” and Friends – Emerging Artist Act

“I would like to take the audience on a journey, my personal Flamenco journey to discover “El Sentido”. At the end of March, I will be traveling to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain to study one on one with the talented and charismatic Jerezana Beatriz Morales. I am on a quest to experience Jerez, the “aire” of flamenco, and to hone in on and bring out my own personal style.

I aim to show the audience how Flamenco resonates with me in correlation to my Doukhobor heritage and its similarities to the Romani Gitanos. There is a very similar history that these two groups of people share, especially the women. These women share a warrior like way of being. Banished, oppressed, yet loving matriarchs of the family. They would take care of the family’s needs at home, do hard labour, and stand up for their way of life against local authorities who tried to assimilate them to Capitalist ways. Communal dwellers who rejected the materialistic things, they shared food, crops, and property within their communities. I now know why Flamenco resonates with me so much, it has brought out my adoration of a strong community and my inner warrior.

I will present a 30 minute show with local Vancouver musicians Peter Mole on guitar, and cantaora Cyrena La Sirena and showcase a re-inspired puro style Seguiriyas titled “Asfixia” that I have been developing throughout the pandemic, a Farruca duet with guest dancer Amber Rowell and finish the set off with juerga style por fiesta. This show will also feature a guest dancer/palmist (TBA) from Mozaico Flamenco and cameo appearance by talented Victoria local Jake “El Chinito” Lee.” – Kara “La Picante”

Kara “La Picante” – Bailaora
Kara was born in Abbotsford, BC, and is a third generation Canadian born Russian. She is a descendant of the Doukhobors who were banished to Siberian labour camps in the 18th century by the Russian Empire. Immigrating to Canada in 1899, her family worked the land as Homesteaders in Saskatchewan. Kara has a background in competitive gymnastics and modern dance but has found her passion in the fervor and artistry of Flamenco. At the age of 22 she moved to Spain on a working holiday that was supposed to last 9 months but ended up staying 2 years. She fell in love with the people, culture, language, food and the way of life there long before she discovered her love for Flamenco or her family heritage. The Doukhobor history of pilgrimages, communal living, and authoritative oppression, has many similarities to the Romani Gitano’s history. She did not know why Flamenco resonated so much with her but now that she has discovered some of her family history, it makes so much more sense. Flamenco allows her to create, express, and release emotions and energy without censorship, protest, or fear of misinterpretation. Kara took her first Flamenco class in 2014 and, since then, have developed an insatiable appetite for learning the art form. Since the age of 8 when she began training in gymnastics she has had a passion for performing. Since moving back to Canada, Flamenco has re-ignited her inspiration and passion for performing arts.

Cyrena La Sirena – Cantaora
Cyrena is both a flamenco dancer and a flamenco cellist and frequently performs in both capacities. She has studied baile most intensively with Kasandra La China and Oscar Nieto but also with Isabel Bayon, Adela Campallo, Inmaculada and Domingo Ortega, Marco Flores, Maria Juncal, Juana Amaya, Cihtli Ocampo, Cristina Hall, Ricardo Lopez, Emilio Ochando, Israel Galvan, Pastora Galvan, Concha Jareño, Ivan Heredia, Cristina Benitez, Claudia Cruz, La Lupi, Jose Manuel Alvarez, Mercedes Córdoba and Lidon Patino among others.

She has performed in Cafe de Chinitas Vinetas, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, the Victoria Flamenco Festival, The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, Albuquerque Flamenco Festival, Raices y Alas Colores, Pairings, Dance All-Sorts, and has danced regularly at the Kino Cafe and the Chai Lounge. She was featured in an issue of “The Dance Current” in the March 2009 issue highlighting flamenco dancers in Canada. She recently choreographed and performed with Rachel Mercer, principal cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra for the world premiere of Alice Ping Yee Ho’s “Mascarada” a Cello and Flamenco Dance Concerto in 2021.

As a flamenco cellist she has studied with renowned flamenco violinist Bernardo Parilla and won a BC Buds grant in 2011 to choreograph a work for cello and flamenco. She has performed in several Cafe de Chinitas and Raices y Alas shows as well as the Jondo Flamenco Festival, The Victoria Flemano Festival, the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival and the Vancouver International Dance Festival, Kasandra Flamenco Dance, and collaborated in projects with Gaspar Rodriguez, composer and guitarist for Nuevo Ballet Espanol, Madrid and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, New York.

Peter Mole – Guitar
Peter was born in Montreal and his musical training began in his teens. He always loved playing the guitar and began with classical, migrating to steel-string and electric guitar. He even played in a punk rock garage band and still has an affinity for punk rocker chords in Bulerias and Seguiriyas. He spent extended time in Central America, particularly Guatemala, to learn Spanish language and guitar. He saved money diligently to go to Spain to seek out flamenco guitar in Andalucia where he trained in Seville in 1989. His first flamenco lessons were with Carlos Heredia and Peter discovered flamenco technique, and witnessed flamenco for the first time at La Carbonaria. Carlos said that the best way to perform real flamenco and earn a living was to play with singers and dancers.
With that in mind, Peter set out to re-emulate what he saw at La Carboneria and other Sevillan tablaos when he arrived in Vancouver in 1991. Peter accompanied Oscar Nieto’s dance classes where he met Karen Boothroyd and quickly formed the group “Los Canasteros” with Roma singer, Lolo. Passionate, determined and a fierce, scrappy fighter, Peter was determined to play flamenco guitar so he hired and worked with all local singers and mentored dozens and dozens of up and coming dancers over the decades at The Kino. He created many groups over the years including Flamenco Vivo, Poema Flamenca and Calle Verde. Peter believes in teamwork and values equality. He created a thriving, loyal community that regularly gathered and attended tablao shows.