Flamenco in ‘Ceilo y Arena' Shows Deep Connection Between Dance, Music

Bailaoras (left to right) Maria Mercedes Perez, Sandra Baras and Mayelu Perez


Bailaoras (left to right) Maria Mercedes Perez, Sandra Baras and Mayelu Perez in "Seguiriyas" Photo by Jenny Abreu

Michelle F. Solomon, Editor

"Ceilo y Arena," translated into English, means "Heaven and Sand," and in a previous interview Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s artistic director Ilisa Rosal explained that the meaning “it is a metaphor for flamenco’s quality of making one feel like one is being lifted to the heavens, and yet, is as ephemeral as sand.”

The international Flamenco company based in Miami will perform “Ceilo y Arena,” in Coral Gables at the Sanctuary for the Arts on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 7:30 pm.

Bailaoras (left to right) Sandra Baras, La Emi, Mayelu Perez and Irene,


Bailaoras (left to right) Sandra Baras, La Emi, Mayelu Perez and Irene, "La Chiqui de Malaga" in "Bulerias." (Photo by Jenny Abreu)

Rosal has described the production as featuring Flamenco dance's spellbinding and earthy power at its best.

The production incorporates live music, original choreography, and improvisation. The music, created and arranged by musicians Jose Luis de la Paz and El Cachito, creates an interchange with choreography danced by Maria Mercedes Perez, Mayelu Perez, and Pilar Fernandez.

Bailaora Irene,


Bailaora Irene,"La Chiqui de Malaga" in "Seguiriyas." (Photo by Jenny Abreu)

Flamenco originated in Andalusia, Spain, and was later adapted by Christians and Jews. “Flamenco is multicultural – there are elements of different cultures,” says Rosal on the appeal of flamenco. “ It’s the rhythm in flamenco – the deep emotion in the guitar, music and the dancer. It resonates with all people – and it’s very universal; it’s a complete art form.”

Bailaora Maria Mercedes Perez


Bailaora Maria Mercedes Perez in "Alegrias" Photo by Jenny Abreu

Rosal founded her company in 1985. The choreographer, flamenco dancer, and instructor who grew up on Miami Beach left the area when she was 21 to study in New York.

It was there that acclaimed flamenco star José Molina asked her to dance in his company.

Rosal left New York to pursue flamenco in Spain for the next five years. During that time, she studied with many of the greats, like the late renowned gypsy flamenco artist Manuel Santiago Maya "Manolete."

She talks about the influence that “Manolete” had on her as a teacher, a conceptualizer and as a dancer.

“His style of flamenco was unique- a one-of-a-kind genius. His choreography was ahead of its time. Part of our ( company) mission is to keep his style alive and pass it on. This concert will have some of his choreography,” said Rosal in 2022 when she performed “Ceilo y Arena” and dedicated the show to her mentor. "One of the things I try to do in this concert is to have a variety of rhythms, approaches and styles, so that people can see more of a range of Flamenco."

Rosal has also become known for combining flamenco with theater.

In August, she presented “Deseo,” an adaption of Tennessee Williams’ “Streetcar Named Desire.” Upcoming, Ballet Flamenco La Rosa will perform as part of the Daniel Lewis Dance Sampler on Saturday, Oct. 7 and Sunday, Oct. 8 at the New World School of the Arts, Miami.

Cielo y Arena will be performed on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Sanctuary for the Arts, 410 Andalusia Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134. For tickets and information,

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