The dancers move quickly in percussive, rhythmic motions — their arms outstretched and twisting as they pursue one another across the stage. In a flowing ruffled skirt, the female dancer exudes grace and elegance, twisting toward her male companion as he mirrors her movements and turns away.

“Flamenco is all about emotional expression,” said Carlota Santana, internationally acclaimed flamenco artist and educator, in a recent interview. “The whole art form is about rhythm and emotion, and often that means romance and love — and all the happiness and sadness and anger that goes along with it.”

In a special Valentine’s Day weekend event, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, America’s premier Spanish dance company, is headed to downtown Asheville for two evenings (and one matinee performance) full of romance, rhythm and celebration of Hispanic heritage.

“Flamenco, to me, is feminine empowerment,” Santana said. “Because you can feel very soft and sultry, or you can feel very strong and tough. Or,” she continued, “you can be very demanding. In flamenco, the man is not the dominant dancer. There’s a big role for the woman to be as strong as she wants to be.”

Flamenco Vivo performs Friday & Saturday, Feb. 14-15, at 8 p.m. each night. The company also offers a Matinee Series performance at 10 a.m. on Friday. The Matinee show is open to school and community groups, families, homeschoolers and individuals.

On Valentine’s Day, a special V.I.P. tablao performance at 6 p.m. invites the audience to get up close and personal with the dancers over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. This 30-minute presentation — a V.I.P. add-on to the 8 p.m. stage performance — is an opportunity to intimately experience the body movements and facial expressions of the dancers in the Henry LaBrun Studio.

Then at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, the company hosts a community dance class, open to all ages and skill levels.

Joined by musicians performing live with the dancers — both during the tablao and on stage for the 8 p.m. performances — Flamenco Vivo is set to deliver a weekend of colorful dance, music and culture.

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