Spanish-speaking nursing home inspires new flamenco show

Friday, August 16, 2019

A nursing home in western Sydney may seem like a peculiar location to hunt for inspiration for a flamenco performance, but for Pepa Molina, the setting was perfect.

Residential Gardens — or Parque Habitacional — in Rooty Hill is Australia's only Spanish-speaking aged care home.

So for Molina, an internationally renowned flamenco dancer, teacher and producer, the nursing home setting was a no-brainer.

"I was very interested in engaging them in conversations about our culture and the flamenco artform ... and turning that into a performance of its own."

Turning words into dance

In 2018, Molina spent two months at the home, dancing, talking and listening to music with some of the 106 residents, who hail from Spain, the Philippines, and South and Central America.

It was part of an artist-in-residency program facilitated by Blacktown Arts Centre.

A year on, Molina is preparing to present her observations in dance form in a performance called Perceptions – Prohibido dar el cante.

Health benefits

Nursing home chief executive Marta Terracciano said the program didn't just bring colour and movement to the facility, it also meant residents' general health improved.

"Music is a very important tool to engage with mental health, physical too," she said.

"It's related to any time of your life, but when you're ageing, it takes you back to your roots and it's magnificent."

For the residents, the program was all about cultural expression.

"It was amazing. I loved the dance, the music, the visuals," Leonard Gerard said through a translator.

"I think it's very important to have facilities where you can express your culture."