Diana Alenajdre (1947-2013)
She was a daughter She was a dancer
She was a sister She was a singer
She was a cousin
She was a teacher
She was a niece
She was a performer
She was a friend
Mere words cannot describe the goodness of her heart or her kindness, her sense of fun or her smile that was as radiant as the sun.
It is hard also to find the words that describe the passion with which she danced, taking us on a journey with her through the thicket of flamenco rhythms and gestures with such strength and such beauty, it made our hearts ache to see it.
And although there are no words that sufficiently express what Diana meant to the lives of her family, her friends, her students and her flamenco colleagues, her legacy will always be that of a true and loving friend, a devoted sister, daughter, cousin, niece . . . a dedicated teacher, and an exceptional performer.
Written by Raquel Lopez
This brief biography of Diana Alejandre is the story of a dancer. The story of a young girl who “imagined” into being her life as a flamenco dancer. It is the story of someone who spent her life in dance classes, rehearsal halls, dressing rooms and on stages big and small. It is the story of a woman who, when she was dancing, was in her element.
Diana was born in Oakland on June 17, 1947. She was raised in Richmond and attended Richmond High School where she had the starring role singing and dancing in the senior play “Brigadoon.” While attending Richmond High School Diana was Head Pom Pom girl and was selected as Snowball Queen at the city wide Snowball Dance.
As a toddler she took her first step along the long path toward a career as a flamenco dancer. She tells the story that at the age of 3 she would tie a kitchen towel around her waist and dance throughout the house in her make believe “bata de cola” clicking her brothers’ cap guns to make the sound of castanets. She was soon enrolled in tap dancing classes at the Mathilda Meyer Dance Studio in Richmond performing in numerous school recitals. At the age of 11 she began studying Spanish Dance and Flamenco with Pepita de Cordoba, performing both Spanish Classical Dance and Flamenco under Pepita’s tutelage.
Throughout her teenage years Diana continued to perform Flamenco, often appearing at the Casa Madrid in San Francisco with Cruz Luna and Yolanda Juan.
Over the course of many years, Diana studied Flamenco with a wide range of master teachers: Roberto Amaral, Ciro. Farruquita, La Faraona, Jose Galvan, Manolo Marin, Concha Vargas and she also studied cante with Rubina Carmona.
Throughout her long career as a dancer Diana performed with most of the major flamenco groups in the Bay Area and beyond: Rosa Montoya’s Bailes Flamencos, Cruz Luna’s Ole! Ole! Spanish Dance Company, El Cuadro Flamenco, Los Flamencos del Valle, Agustin Rios de Moron’s Grupo Flamenco Andaluz, Los Flamencos de la Bahia, Lebrija Flamenca and Alma Flamenca. For years she was a featured soloist in Los Flamencos de la Bodega at the Old Spaghetti Factory in North Beach. In Spain she performed at Las Cuevas de Nemesio in Madrid and in other parts of California she performed for Fiesta Days in Santa Barbara and at El Cid in Los Angeles.
In the final years of Diana’s Flamenco career she became Artistic Director of Arte Flamenco de San Jose and devoted herself to teaching, choreography and producing Arte Flamenco concerts.
As I have written before on this page all that these details tell are merely the facts of her life. They cannot reproduce the sound of her voice singing por tangos. Nor can they adequately capture her sense of mischief and play when she danced por bulerias. And there are no videos that can capture the passion with which she danced, taking us on the journey with her, through the thicket of flamenco rhythms and gestures, with such strength and such beauty it made our hearts ache to see it.
It has been a long journey from that little girl dancing Flamenco n a kitchen in Richmond to the performer who so moved and delighted us with her elegance, her wit and her fire.
Written by Raquel Lopez