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Global Indians

Introducing Deborah Dawson

By Petrina D’Souza, 22 Sep, 2017

    Popularly known as Deborah “La Caramelita”, she has mesmerized people worldwide with her graceful and passionate flamenco performances.

    For over 10 years, Deborah Dawson, popularly known as Deborah “La Caramelita”, has mesmerized people worldwide with her graceful and passionate performances. Based in France, Deborah is a professional flamenco dancer, an art form originating from Andalusia, Spain. 
    As a child, Deborah was always interested in dance and music. At the age of 14, she was introduced to flamenco when she attended Byng Arts Mini School in Vancouver. “Flamenco Rosario was one of the groups that performed when I was a student there. I fell in love with the unique aesthetic of flamenco,” recalls Deborah who is still captivated by the sincerity found in the art form. 
    She became the youngest dancer to be accepted into Rosario Ancer’s professional training program. Her growing interest in flamenco further led her to Andalucia where she studied with notable dancers such as Juana Amaya, Carmen Ledesma, and Juan Polvillo, among others.
    Today, Deborah is an international artist who has performed in countries like Portugal, Malaysia, Russia, France and Switzerland alongside renowned artists and music groups. “After years of studying and living in Spain I have found more profound reasons to continue dancing but it was the beauty that first ensnared me,” states Deborah of the crucial factor that paved her path towards flamenco.
    Past productions she has participated in include the opening ceremony of the Rolex Trophy in Geneva, the festival and social-cultural project Pacha Uchuk in Ecuador, and the Western Canadian tour of Mis Hermanas. 
    Flamenco dancers express their emotions through fierce body movements and intense facial expressions. Deborah’s dance is inspired largely from her own personal struggle. “The cante (singing) is what guides the dancer, and many of the verses speak of loss and despair. I came to flamenco as an escape and it is still my escape from everyday life, as it was and still is for many gypsies in Spain.”
    Deborah, who has roots in India and Malaysia, reveals that the Spanish gypsies are said to have come from Rajasthan. “You can see many aspects of Indian dance and music in flamenco today.” In fact, Deborah’s dance movements give glimpses of her Indian origin. “I have often been told that naturally, my hand movements resemble Indian classical dance movements,” she adds. 
    Her next production focusses on her identity and how that influences her dance. “I will be in a creative residence in the fall in France to start putting the project together and in India in December to film parts of the show,” shares Deborah.
    Talking about productions, this talented dancer is currently in the city to perform at the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the festival, run by Rosario Ancer who inspired me to go to Spain in the first place,” she says with excitement. Deborah will be performing with Fin de Fiesta, a multi-cultural flamenco group based in Toronto and Sevilla. “We will be showcasing a mix of traditional, contemporary and original pieces. Each artist has their moment to shine during the show and there is a great dynamic onstage,” she discloses about the act.
    Flamenco has had a major impact on Deborah’s life. Her passion for the dance form took her to Spain where she met her husband, flamenco singer Alejandro Mendía. It has taught her to be resourceful, to challenge herself, and to continue learning. “Flamenco is a never-ending journey and I look forward to the continuing inspiration and growth that it brings me,” says Deborah in conclusion.

    Q & A with Dawson

    What message do you try to relay through your dance?
    The intensity of flamenco requires you to be honest and to come to terms with a lot of emotions, on and offstage, and audiences everywhere can relate to that. As an Indian flamenco dancer from Canada I was not born into the world of flamenco, but I do my best to dance sincerely and relay my own struggles and joys onstage. 
    Your most memorable performance till date?
    It had always been a dream of mine to dance at the Vancouver Folk Festival. Last summer, I was honoured to perform there with Les Noces Gitanes, a flamenco/Balkan/Moroccan fusion band. Being able to perform with this band that I have worked with for the last eight years in a setting like the folk fest was very rewarding and I got quite emotional performing in front of my friends and family.
    Photos: thierrydubucphotographe.zenfolio.com, courtesy Deborah Dawson

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