Shimi Tree is a Spanish Flamenco group formed by Estefanía Sanchez and her partner Luis de La Tota. Estefanía went to high school here in Boise, but then moved to Portland where she learned flamenco as part of her journey to seek the art forms of her Spanish heritage. She then moved to Spain where she met Luis, a renowned percussionist and lyricist from a Spanish Romany background, who also had a background in flamenco. When they had their son, they moved back to Boise so he could be around his grandparents there. They got the name for Shimi Tree from the Spanish Romany language, Caló. The Caló word for moon is chimutre, and Shimi Tree is a phonetic spelling of the word. It also stands for the way that things get changed in translation, and the way that flamenco specifically is known for changing depending on the region it’s in – the Caló word for moon changed to fit an English audience in Boise, just like the dance of flamenco itself changes.
Shimi Tree began as a way for her and Luis to share flamenco in the traditional way, from old to young and from master to apprentice. Flamenco is traditionally passed down, and that is something Estefanía wanted to recreate with Shimi Tree. She learned flamenco in the homes of her elders, never having any formal dance training, but simply learning through the long-established, home-style (or casera) type of flamenco. Shimi Tree is made up of their apprentices, and they perform live as a way to get the students to learn how to adapt, as flamenco is a dance that depends on live music. The apprentices are guided by the masters in the ways of flamenco dance and learn from various flamenco artists and other dancers Estefanía brings in from around the country to help them get accustomed to different styles of music and dance.
The goal of Shimi Tree and of Estefanía individually is to communicate the meaning and feeling of the music, even to those who don’t speak Spanish. She said that “everything we do tells a story or has a theme” and even though it is from another country, the goal is to show the connection and the thread that we have in common as human beings. “As a dancer, my job is to interpret with my body the stories that are being sung” so those that can’t understand Spanish can understand the movements and connect it to something within themselves.
Flamenco in Boise is growing, and Estefanía hopes to encourage that growth even more with the creation of Flamencos United, a production company she is starting with Antonio El Pipa, an award-winning choreographer and Flamenco dancer, and one of the dancers Estefanía is bringing in to help teach her apprentices. Eventually, her goal is to put on a Flamenco Festival, or hold a Day of Flamenco in Boise. Additionally, Flamencos United aims to have their own dance studio, their own space, and to grow their own community of fans, dancers and artists based around the art of Flamenco.
Where to find Shimi Tree and Flamencos United:
· Shimi Tree on Facebook, shimi_tree on Instagram
· Flamencos United on Facebook, @FlamencosUnited on Instagram
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