The year was 2012 and Lia Grainger had established herself as a respected and award-winning freelance journalist in Toronto.
A graduate of Capilano University in North Vancouver, Grainger had worked her way up from interning at The Walrus and Chatelaine to becoming an arts reporter for the National Post in 2009.
Three years later, Grainger had become a regular contributor to publications such as the Toronto Star, Toronto Life and Vancouver Magazine.
But despite all the success, Grainger’s mind was focused on her other passion: flamenco dancing.
“I felt like it was the thing I had always wanted to be doing,” Grainger said.
So in the fall of 2012, Grainger put her journalism career on hold and moved to Seville, Spain to pursue flamenco dancing.
“I just felt time is a wasting and [I had] to get over to Spain where flamenco is a way of life,” Grainger said.
Shortly after moving to Spain and with weeks and weeks of practice under her belt, Grainger formed the flamenco dance group Fin de Fiesta.
On Aug. 18 Fin de Fiesta will hold a show at the Gabriola Island Community Hall.
“It is a very powerful art form,” Grainger said. “The music is very interesting and emotionally intense and so is the dancing.”
Fin de Fiesta’s members include guitarist Dennis Duffin, Los Angeles singer Daniel Azcarate, dancer Michelle Harding, flautist Lara Wong and Italian percussionist Davide Sampaolo, who has previously worked with Jesse Cook.
“Many of us met in Seville, Spain where some of us lived there about half of the time,” Grainger said. “We go there to study and perform.”
Grainger’s pathway to flamenco began in 2003 when she started studying the dance form while living in Vancouver.
She says that at first, flamenco dancing was nothing more than a hobby.
“I did it take seriously but I always had another career,” Grainger said.
After moving to Spain in 2012, she met a number of like-minded flamenco performers, including Duffin, who would help her form Fin de Fiesta.
“Being over there [Spain] was a challenge because it is a very different culture,” Grainger said. “Europe is not so different from North American culture, but in Spain I was living in Seville in the south …. and it is just a very different lifestyle.”
Grainger, a former college basketball player, says flamenco is one of the more open forms of dance.
“One of the things that is nice about flamenco is that is open to everybody,” Grainger said. “Everybody can do it.”
Grainger, who has previously performed at the Montreal Flamenco Festival and Vancouver’s Jondo Flamenco Festival, says she considers herself more of an “intense” dancer.
“I definitely have my own style but I believe in the roots and traditional flamenco,” she said. “I think I am a really intense dancer. One of my favourite parts of the dance is the footwork.”
Fin de Fiesta perform on Aug. 18 on Gabriola Island at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance or $20 at the door.