Nearly a decade ago, seven brothers gathered together in a studio in Spain to pitch a show of their own creation. They had invited an important figure from the international dance community, someone they thought would be able to give them their first step towards establishing a family company with global status.
The only thing was, the show they were trying to sell didn’t exist, at least not yet.
Those brothers were Elias, Josue, Josua, Cristo, Aaron, Israel and Judah Vivancos. Their guest was Yair Vardi, artistic director of the Suzanne Dellal Center.
“When we were talking to him, we were trying to sell him our first show, but we didn’t actually have a show. He asked to see a performance. We told him we were creating a new show and that we didn’t have performances just then.
He came to Madrid and watched a rehearsal. We had three numbers ready, so we danced them.
Afterwards, we said, ‘Then the show goes like this and like that.’ He said, ‘You don’t have a show’ but said if we could keep going for 90 minutes, then we could talk. He could see farther than a lot of people. So, thanks to Yair, our premiere with our first show was in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” explains Elias Vivancos over Skype.
In the time since those first tenuous moments in the studio with Vardi, Los Vivancos have catapulted to fame, performing their unique take on flamenco dance and music in more than 40 countries.
“It’s been great. It’s been over three years that we’ve been touring with this show, 7Brothers. Getting to do what we love – the music, the dancing, the creation process – together is a dream for us,” he beams.
Elias and his brothers, plus a few wives and children, will come to Israel this month to perform their newest production, Aeternum (Eternity). Their visit will include shows in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Beersheba and Haifa.
Growing up in the Vivancos home, music and dance came part and parcel with breathing and eating breakfast.
“Our father was a musician and dancer,” explains Elias. “He was a great artist. He started us. He gave us this vision that anything is possible.”
Moving around from Spain to Canada to The Netherlands, the seven Vivancos boys each found himself drawn to a different instrument. They were also physically gifted. These passions, though seemingly stemming from the same source, were not always openly embraced by the outside world.
“I went to the conservatory of music to study cello. My teacher told me that I couldn’t be a dancer and cellist – that I had to choose. The same happened at dance school. But in our home, they gave us the idea that everything was possible if you worked for it. That if you pursue your dreams, you will achieve them one day,“ Elias recounts.
As adults, Los Vivancos found themselves scattered around Europe’s major flamenco and ballet companies. Though they were never off stage for long, finding an avenue to express their musical and dance abilities was difficult. Thus, Elias and his gang decided to set off on their own, devising a platform on which they could be and do whatever they desired.
Aeternum premiered last year in Spain.
“In Aeternum, we talk about the eternity a man can achieve. We each have a limited time on Earth, but big artists, like Bach and Da Vinci, are alive today through their creations,” Elias says.
The show, which fuses theater, movement, circus, orchestral music and martial arts, continues the expansive and inclusive view of flamenco that Los Vivancos exhibited with 7Brothers. As each of the men plays an instrument as well as practices various styles of dance, the show is a smorgasbord of talents. To make sure it all gelled, Los Vivancos brought a trusted colleague, Cirque du Soleil’s Daniele Finzi Pasca, to advise them during the process.
“We worked for over a year on the storybook for this show. We composed original scores and choreography,” says Elias. “This show is very different from the previous one. We did many things we had never done before, that no one has ever done before.
We have the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, a rock band and a flamenco ensemble playing together on the recording. It was very demanding to write the score. For us, the music follows the dance. We do crazy footwork that the music has to come into. There was no way of knowing if it would work when we recorded it. It was a leap of faith,” he says.
While he is truly enjoying Los Vivancos’s successes, keeping a cool head in spite of all of the pressures has proved challenging for the oldest brother. A new father and husband, Elias struggles to find a balance between rehearsals, time on the road and home life.
“Right now, our biggest challenge is to be able to combine personal life with career. As we get older, we have wives and kids. I had a baby this year, and two other brothers had babies this year. It’s hard enough to work with your brothers; now we have to work with brothers, kids and wives. It takes your time and love away. We are working on doing what we do and having a family,” he explains.
The Israel tour has provided a unique opportunity to blend the two.
“We are bringing a lot of family with us this time,” he says.Los Vivancos will present ‘Aeternum’ at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on February 24-27 (www.israelopera.co.il); the Jerusalem Theater on February 29 (www.jerusalem-theater.co.il); the Ashdod Performing Arts Center on March 1 (www.mishkan-ashdod.co.il); the Haifa Auditorium on March 2 (www.ethos.co.il); and the Beersheba Performing Arts Center on March 3 (www.mishkan7.co.il).