'Going' in style
Clarita Corona’s Alhambra-based Arte Flamenco Theatre celebrates Spanish dance in 124th Rose Parade
By Jana J. Monji 12/25/2012
This holiday season has more hustle and bustle than usual for Clarita Corona and her dance company, Arte Flamenco Theatre. For the first time, the troupe will be part of a Pasadena tradition: the Rose Parade, now in its 124th year.
“We’ve always been working on New Year’s Eve, so I’ve never attended or even participated in decorating the floats,” says Corona, who was born and raised in East Los Angeles.
Corona began dancing as a child, studying Spanish and flamenco dance under such famous people as Jose Greco, Jose Molina, Luisa Triana and Dolores and Jose Fernandez. Eventually, she went to Spain, where she continued the study of Spanish classical, regional and flamenco dance in Seville while performing with various other dance companies and dancers, among them Manolo Marin, Mario Maya, Juan Manuel and Juana Amaya. She also studied with renowned La Tati Cristobal Reyes in Madrid. At that time, Corona, or “La Clara,” toured as a solo performer.
When she returned to the United States in 1989, Corona founded the Arte Flamenco Dance Theatre, which includes dancers, singers and musicians, and began touring the nation. Eventually, she settled down and founded a school in Alhambra, the Arte Flamenco and The Center of Worldance.
In the past, Corona and her company danced at the Old Pasadena restaurant La Luna Negra, but now she’s gone back to focusing on touring while giving private and theater performances. Corona also currently teaches flamenco classes at Pasadena City College, where students give a performance as part of their final exam.
It was the city of Alhambra that invited Clarita and her company to participate in this year’s Rose Parade as part of the community’s tribute to Granada, Alhambra’s sister city in Spain.
According to the Tournament of Roses media guide, the theme of the city’s float is “Going to Granada, Spain!” celebrating the 50th anniversary of Granada and Alhambra as sister cities, which is part of the overall parade theme of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Built by the Phoenix Decorating Co., the float features a representation of the Alhambra Castle and the Court of the Lions and kicks off a year-long celebration between the two cities.
When the city of Alhambra invited Corona and her company to participate, she was amazed at the synchronicity. “I had just been in Granada this last summer,” Clarita exclaimed. “The float has all the nuances of Granada.”
Ten members of Clarita’s dance company will be walkers, and an additional four young ladies who had to audition will be on the float itself: two flamenco students and two folklorico students. Those four won’t be dancing.
As for the walkers, they'll be dancing something original with the “essence of what flamenco dance is,” Corona explained. However, “we can’t do heel work. That’s an impossibility. Heel work on cement … that would just destroy us,” Corona said.
The company is currently working on getting their bearings and modifying the choreography.
So far, Corona’s gotten advice from experienced walkers to wear comfortable shoes, eat lots of good food the night before and enjoy the experience. The costumes are being designed and created specifically for the Rose Parade, with Corona making some of them herself.
Audiences can look forward to “very traditional, stunning flamenco dresses” and “vibrant music,” she said.
This New Year’s Day, the world will get to see one of Alhambra’s cultural treasures, as Corona and her company bring the beauty of Spanish dance to millions of TV viewers nationwide.