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Flamenco dancers perform at Gabriola Island Community Hall

NANAIMO - Fin de Fiesta Flamenco performs its production Audacia on Gabriola Friday (Aug. 5).
Lia Grainger

Freedom and intense emotional passion drew Lia Grainger to flamenco dancing.

She was 20, living in Vancouver, and decided to go to Kino Café where she saw the flamenco dancer known as La China perform.

The show had a profound effect on Grainger.

“The performance was really intense and passionate and she looked like she was experiencing the full range of emotions onstage,” said Grainger.

Grainger wanted to feel those emotions in the same manner.

“I feel like I’ve always been an intense person,” said Grainger. “I just like the feeling of being really alive. It’s a chance to do that and to give that to other people. To watch it, it really wakes you up.”

The 6-foot-2 former college basketball player said she didn’t have the typical body type for other dance forms, but flamenco isn’t for any particular body type.

She began flamenco studies in 2003 and was a student of Vancouver-based teachers La China and Oscar Nieto.

She travelled to Toronto and studied with Carmen Romero and Esmeralda Enrique and then Myriam Allard in Montreal.

Grainger said her teachers always encouraged her and she learned the rules and language of flamenco.

“You have to learn all the rules so you can break them,” she said.

She said there is a lot of freedom to improvise and merge contemporary elements with traditional forms, but you must know the basics before making changes.

Communication is a key element to flamenco. The dancers must learn the language of the musicians.

“The music is as important as the movement,” she said.

Grainger now lives in Seville, Spain.

In Spain she met fellow Canadian Dennis Duffin.

The two founded Fin de Fiesta Flamenco in 2012.

The company includes Grainger, as artistic director and flamenco dancer; Duffin, as musical director and guitarist; Lara Wong, flutist; Alejandro Mendía, vocalist and Davide Sampaulo on percussion instruments.

Fin de Fiesta Flamenco is presenting Audacia, at the Gabriola Island Community Hall, located at 2200 South Rd., on Friday (Aug. 5) at 7:30 p.m.

The show has four dance pieces.

Farruca is traditionally danced by a man in pants, but Grainger will be doing the piece.

“It’s a strong linear dance with lots of fancy footwork and sharp movements, clean lines,” she said.

Other pieces include siguiriyas, soleá por bulerías  and a contemporary dance Grainger created that is accompanied by Appalachian banjo music.

“There are a lot of people in Spain and around the world experimenting with different music with flamenco movements,” she said.

Tickets are $20 or $15 for children 14 years and younger and are available in advance from

For more information about Fin de Fiesta Flamenco please go to