The leading ladies of flamenco

“I’m interested in the strength of women. I wanted to see women tell their own stories,” says Hevia y Vaca.

In the early ’70s, a Spanish flamenco dancer performed a small demonstration in Elba Hevia y Vaca’s Bolivian village. The experience would shape the next 40 years of her life.

“What awakened in me was the emotions that flamenco allows you to express,” explains Hevia y Vaca. “As a 13-year-old girl, I was extremely ecstatic to discover that there were movements my body could make to express things I was feeling.”

But as she delved further into her study, she became increasingly dismayed by the typical presentation of women in the art form. In Hevia y Vaca’s view, the dictatorship of Francisco Franco instilled a repressive, misogynistic undertone to Spain’s national dance — one that persists to this day.

In 2000, she finally founded her own flamenco ensemble, Pasion y Arte, and she made sure it had a distinctly feminist bent.

“I wanted to push the boundaries — to experience flamenco as a woman, not as a loved-other, or a sexual object. The only way I could do that was to form my own company,” she explains.

This week marks the opening of the first Philadelphia Flamenco Festival, produced by Pasion y Arte. Running until the end of the month, the celebration features performances and master classes by renowned Spanish dancer Rosario Toledo at Temple University, Swarthmore College and Christ Church Neighborhood House. “In Spain, there are so many wonderful dancers changing the aesthetic and empowering women,” says Hevia y Vaca. “Philadelphia hasn’t had the opportunity to see that.”

This weekend at the Philadelphia Flamenco Festival

Rosario Toledo and Company: ‘Del primer paso’
Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m., Christ Church
Neighborhood House
20 N. American St., $25

Panel discussion: Featuring dance scholars Robert Browning and Michelle Heffner Hayes
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Christ Church Neighborhood House, free


Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…


Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…


Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…


Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.


‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."


'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…


Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…


Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.


Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.


Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.


Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.


Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…


Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…


Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…


4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.