This is life, too: The year of her daughter's birth, Frank learns that her father has Alzheimer's. She watches for five years while he forgets how to sing, to talk, to feed and bathe himself. Growth and decline. Greetings and goodbyes. Pleasure paired with pain.
How will you live through life? Tentatively? Reluctantly? Wildly? Madly? Or will you stomp your frustrations in tightly controlled 12 counts, curl your arms sensually through tangled contradictions and arch your back to hold the weight on your chest, where you can see it? The last, if you choose it, is to dance your life "con gusto."
"Goddammit go! Let's do it. Live!" That, says Frank, is the emotional narrative of "Liviana," from her new theatrical flamenco show, Flamenco Con Gusto. Gestures -- the sweep of her arm, rumbling steps that try to take her forward, the assertion of her hips -- push against some internal resistance, repeat themselves with fierce insistence, then break through to announce themselves with thunder on the stage.
And then there are moments when Frank is nearly still, falling slowly, softly, her fingers tracing dreamlike patterns in calm exaltation. "You need the pause, the phrases, the empty spaces," she says. "You get sincere by taking off all the unnecessary things."
Flamenco Con Gusto brings together singer Chayito Champion from Texas, singer and flautist Alfonso Cid from Seville and New York, guitarist Arturo Martinez from Chicago, and Atlanta's own Jerry Fields on percussion. It's a stripped-down performance without the trappings of tourist tapas bars, so stay away if you're looking for ruffled dresses, teeth-clenched roses and Riverdance-style theatrics. This show is for those who prefer the simpler hondo profundity of flamenco performed with grim wisdom, muscular grace and emphatically defiant gusto.
Atlanta's Ulrika Frank Flamenco presents Flamenco Con Gusto, 8 p.m., March 19-20 at Emory University's Cannon Chapel, 515 S. Kilgo Circle. $17-$20. 404-543-4059. www.frankflamenco.com.
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