Gareth Owen plays a song on his guitar for his mother Veronica Maguire. They perform during Alma de España.

Gareth Owen plays a song on his guitar for his mother Veronica Maguire. They perform during Alma de España.

Fiery flamenco fiesta

NANAIMO - Solera Performing Arts presents Alma de Espana Saturday (Jan. 16) at the Nanaimo Harbour City Theatre.

The soul and history of flamenco flows through Veronica Maguire when she performs.

“With the temperament of the dance, the versatility, it’s a type of dance form you can do till you are 90 or 100 years old. It can grow with you. It has a culture. It’s a legacy,” she said “Flamenco has that way of making you fall into it. It’s one of those things you can’t ignore. It’s addictive.”

The Victoria resident brings her passion for the art form, with the rest of her Alma de España troupe members, to the Harbour City Theatre stage Saturday (Jan. 16).

Troupe members recently returned from a trip to Jerez, Spain. Maguire said the dancers visit Spain to gain inspiration.

“You walk the street and feel the flamenco happening all around you,” said Maguire.

The Nanaimo performance features Maguire, flamenco guitarist Gareth Owen, singer Juan de Marias, dancer Denise Yeo and special guest performer Kasandra “La China” from Vancouver.

La China will perform a bata de cola dance.

The bata de cola, translated as gown or dress with a tail, is a significant technical challenge for the dancer. The tail can pose challenges because of its weight and length and becomes an intrinsic part of the dancer’s body movements and expression.

“It takes a lot of technique to work the dress,” said Maguire. “The piece is quite complex and very beautiful to watch.”

During the dances other troupe members will shout out palmas or jalears, encouragements for the dancers.

“Basically we are having one big party onstage,” said Maguire, adding she hopes the audience will join and also express encouragements.

Accompanying music for the dancers is provided by Owen. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who was also a flamenco guitarist.

“Gareth has known guitar all his life,” she said.

He has performed at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, the Toronto International Flamenco Festival and the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival.

His wife, Yeo, is also part of the troupe.

“It’s very special. I’m very lucky to perform with family,” said Maguire.

Maguire will perform a soleares, which means solitude.

“It does have a story, but every dancer develops it differently. It’s how you are in your own being and the dance evolves,” she said. “It is through the song that gives the dancer the inspiration.”

Maguire has been performing and teaching flamenco for more than 40 years. She co-founded the dance school and touring company, Alma de España, in Victoria in 1991 with her late husband, flamenco guitarist Harry Owen.

“Veronica and her late husband are the founders of flamenco on Vancouver Island. It is really because of them flamenco has such a thriving community,” said Janine Wood, coordinator of Nanaimo’s Solera Performing Arts Society, which presents Alma de España in Nanaimo.

Solera’s mandate is to support art education through engagements such as workshops, performances and dance camps. For more information please go to

Alma de España shows at the Harbour City Theatre, located at 25 Victoria Rd., at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance by calling 250-754-8550 or going to or $22 at the door.

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