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Sunday, July 3, 2016: Bold and beautiful

By day, my cohousing neighbour Cyrena Huang is a mild-mannered cello teacher wearing serious glasses. This weekend I discovered that by night, she ditches the glasses, wears a form-fitting dress and takes the stage at Vancouver’s Kino as a bold and beautiful flamenco singer and dancer.

What a transformation – kind of like from Clark Kent into Superman. But more about that below.

On Friday night, another cohousing neighbour, Paddy, and I settled into a table next to the stage and were treated to a passionate and masterful set of of singing, instrumental music and dance.

While flamenco comes from Spain, it has been embraced all over the world. The performers on stage were a prime example, with Cyrena, whose roots are in Taiwan, her teacher Kasandra “La China” Lea, whose roots are in Hong Kong, and musicians from Italy, Syria and Israel.

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Cyrena Huang performs with Emad Armoush and Liron Man.

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Cyrena dances with her teacher Kasandra Lea.

The Kino – next to the Park Theatre on Cambie – has been hosting flamenco performances for 23 years. There are three sets a night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cyrena first discovered it while walking by 14 years ago and was captivated by Kasandra’s dancing. (It turns out both had played in the National Youth Orchestra.)

Cyrena began studying with Kasandra at Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy and in time has become a teacher there. Here is a 2007 blog post by Cyrena on the academy’s website where she describes her experience: