A language of movement
Originally from: Phoenix, Arizona
Training/Education: I started dancing when I was three. I graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a B.F.A. in Dance. There, I was exposed to great artists and many different styles of flamenco. Afterwards, I left to study in Madrid, Spain. In Madrid, I studied with El Ciro, Belen Maya, Rafaela Carrasco, and Manuel Reyes, among others. When I returned, Maria Benitez invited me to join her flamenco company in Santa Fe. I danced with her for four seasons, three as a soloist. After that, I started touring with Carlota Santana’s company in New York.
My “Aha!” moment with flamenco was the very first time I saw it in Lydia Torea’s studio. In the 1960s, Lydia was a star soloist with Jose Greco’s Spanish Dance Company. It was through her that I first saw and started taking Spanish dance. My mom was late to pick me up so I watched the next class while I waited. It was a private lesson and the student was dancing beautifully; she had incredible expression and spoke volumes with her body. I had never seen anyone move with such intention.
After she finished the solo she was working on, Lydia gave her corrections to someone standing behind me in the lobby. It was the girl’s mother. She was translating Lydia’s comments into sign language. The dancer was deaf.
In that moment I was set on this course that has unfolded throughout my life. I was introduced to the realizations that true dance is so much more than technique – it is a language that transcends words through movement. That rhythm is felt and shared with all our senses. That dance is a visceral expression of what it is to be human, and can expose a person’s spirit in a way words cannot. This is a vital characteristic of flamenco.
Flamenco encourages individuality over uniformity. Although there are group choreographies in contemporary flamenco, at its most traditional, it is a dancer, singer and guitarist creating art together. I saw this in my first glimpse of flamenco. It is what continues to inspire me today. In flamenco I am inspired by the ability to express myself with my entire being.
Last year, I was in Seville, Spain, from August to December, where I danced in the cuadro of José Galván, a prominent dancer in Spain. He gave me the opportunity to perform in the Peña Torres Macarena, the oldest flamenco peña in Seville. It was an honor to dance with him. I plan to return to Spain in late April to continue to work with him.
Current Projects: Julia is one of the featured artists in the upcoming concert, “Caminos Flamencos, an Evening at Taliesin West,” April 20and 21, from 7–8:30 p.m.