Vancouver International Flamenco Festival: Choreographer Kara Miranda embraces her Self in Sombras/Shadows

The show has been inspired by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung's concept of the shadow

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      Victoria-born flamenco dancer and choreographer Kara Miranda's latest project was initially inspired by the visual look of shadows. 

      But as Miranda dug deeper into this subject, she became fascinated by the work of Carl Jung, a pioneer in depth psychology and dream analysis who died in 1961.

      In particular, she was drawn to Swiss psychoanalyst's concept of the shadow as the Self's unconscious repository of repressed ideas, desires, and instincts.

      So, four years after she embarked on Sombras/Shadows as an artist in residence at Vancouver-based Flamenco Rosario, her solo show has evolved into something far more complex.

      "I'm basically incorporating visuals, audio, and text in a way to show how flamenco can be connected with the different ideas of the shadow Self that Carl Jung proposes," Miranda says over Zoom from Montreal, where she now lives. "If people come to the show, they'll see a journey through that and maybe form their own connections with themselves in the ideas that we proposed." 

      Kara Miranda's exploration of Jungian psychology has emboldened her as a creator.
      Herman Surkis

      The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival will present Sombras/Shadows on Friday (September 23) at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island.

      According to Jung, the shadow includes those aspects of ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge, even though they may be visible to others around us. But over time, through the process of individuation, we can bring these parts of our Self to the surface on the path to becoming whole.

      "I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and dream analysis and that kind of work," MIranda says. "So, I was really drawn to his ideas and just kept on reading more and more about it... It’s been a great journey."

      This exploration of Jung's work has also helped her come to terms her own natural shyness and become a more confident creator.

      Miranda acknowledges that she has come a long way from her days as an arts student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Capilano University.

      Years ago, she felt that she had a creative block, which even her mentors noticed. She felt that something was holding her back from truly expressing herself.

      "I really connect to the fact that we tend to block our authentic selves because we're afraid," she says.

      Miranda elaborates by saying that this fear is rooted in not showing the side of ourselves that may not be accepted by many members of society. And that's because we perceive that this is not how that we're supposed to be. So those parts of ourselves are hived off and deposited in the unconscious.

      "As a perfectionist, I work to break through that," she says. "And I feel like I've really grown as an artist to express myself through this process and allowing my authentic self to come through rather than repressing it."

      Miranda plays with shadows as part of her show.
      Herman Surkis

      In Sombras/Shadows, personal experiences are presented with live music and dance by exploring the interplay between light and dark. In the show, Miranda also explores her ancestral roots and what it's like living in the shadow of the great flamenco performers of the past.

      One of the pieces is an homage to Victor Kolstee, cofounder of the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, who died last year. He and his wife, Rosario Ancer, also created Flamenco Rosario, which helped Miranda develop into the flamenco artist that she is today.

      "They've done so much for the flamenco community in Canada," Miranda says.

      She adds that when she travelled to Spain, people there were very aware of Kolstee and Ancer, as well as Vancouver's vibrant flamenco community. Miranda has followed in their footsteps by being very involved in the flamenco community in Montreal, which she has called home for six years.

      She's grateful that the Canada Council for the Arts provided a travel grant so she could bring people to Vancouver to mount the show.

      "I'm happy to make a bridge between Montreal and Vancouver," Miranda says.