Lakshmi Basile: Sharing her Passion for Flamenco
By Mimi Pollack
Professional flamenco dancer Lakshmi Basile, oozes sensuality, strength, and emotion as she glides and taps on the wooden dance floor.
“La Chimi”, as she is known in the flamenco world, was born in California, but has a connection with what some refer to as the birthplace of flamenco, southern Spain, because of her passion for flamenco.
Flamenco was created through the fusion of Jewish, Arab, and Gypsy cultures in southern Spain. All of these cultures share a history of persecution at different points in history and they used flamenco as a way to express their stories and feelings.
Flamenco expresses love, injustice, poverty and death through song and dance, from extreme happiness to sadness. One such dance style is the Taranto, which is mournful and portrays death.
Basile is using her knowledge and experience to bring the dance to San Diego.
She is performing every Saturday night throughout November and December at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant in Old Town from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Her show is divided into three parts, each showcasing different styles of flamenco. She changes into different outfits as well, but is always ably accompanied by her partner, flamenco singer, and dancer Bruno Serrano, and guitarist Juan Moro.
Serrano sings the flamenco “cante” as Basile performs dances known as Guajiras, Alegrias and Taranto. When Basile and Serrano sing or dance together, one can see the connection they share. They also talk about the style and the meanings of the songs and dances.
The Cosmopolitan is offering this show to its diners with no cover charge. It is an ideal venue for this type of show with its festive decorations, old Spanish setting, and delicious food.
Basile was born and grew up in San Diego and shares that her family lived in Encanto, where she now resides.
Basile was born to an Argentinean Paraguayan mother and an American father with Czech roots. Her mother was a dancer and performer who retired to raise her children. Her father is a multi-talented musician and composer who has performed classical music with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as well as Klezmer and Gypsy-Roma music with Yale Strom and his band.
Her Czech grandfather was known to play Klemzer-Gypsy music in his native country. Her maternal grandmother had a dancing school in Paraguay, so Basile grew up in an artistic and “Gypsy” setting, preparing her for her life’s path.
Basile started dancing professionally when she was 15 years old. At 20 years old, she moved to Spain and honed her craft there for 15 years, making a name for herself as the flamenco dancer, “La Chimi.”
It is hard for a foreigner to break into the world of professional, Spanish flamenco, but she did so successfully and thrived. She has been invited to dance in many places, and recently participated in a flamenco festival in Uruguay.
Despite her success in Spain, Basile made the decision to return to San Diego for personal reasons. Dancing flamenco can take its toll on the body as it is very demanding, so she returned to San Diego to heal and spend time with her family. Now that she is in better health, she hopes to expand the tight knit flamenco community in San Diego and share her talent and passion.
Basile’s goal is to expand her opportunities with her own theater productions. She would like to bring in national and international talent in order to have more artistic possibilities when presenting flamenco productions.
Her idea is to create higher quality live performances in San Diego for both the flamenco and non-flamenco communities alike. She hopes to be a type of ambassador of Flamenco art in San Diego.
In addition, she sometimes teams up with Flamenco with Roots Performing Arts to work on charitable projects and interact with the children who study there. She participated in the recent benefit for Doctors without Borders.