Sachiko 'La Chayí'

A native of Osaka, Japan, Sachiko “La Chayí” is a Twin Cities-based flamenco dancer, teacher, choreographer and organizer. (Photo courtesy of Sachiko Nishiuchi)

People often make a point to celebrate their culture whether it’s through holidays, rituals or traditions.

Sachiko Nishiuchi celebrates a culture completely different from her own by dancing the flamenco, a form of music and dance commonly associated with the Andalusian Roma people of southern Spain,

As a native of Osaka, Japan, Nishiuchi only had glimpses of flamenco throughout high school, but she was fascinated by the beauty of the dance.

“I fell in love with the movement and the energy, but I was only audience member,” Nishuchi said. “I wouldn’t start dancing until coming to America in 2000.”

That year, Nishiuchi moved to Minneapolis where she had the opportunity to learn the art form firsthand. As she grew as a dancer and performer, she received recognition and grants for dancing from Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance and New York State Flamenco Certamen.

After being a resident artist of Zorongo Flamenco from 2003-09, she moved to Spain in 2010 to study for five years, where a beloved teacher, Pilar Montoya Manzano, gave her the nickname “La Chayí.”

“It was a nickname that she had given to me. Pilar had a special talent of giving students nicknames,” Nishiuchi said. “In my case, she had trouble pronouncing my name Sachiko, so she started to call me ‘Chayí or Yayí.’”

It was her time in Spain where Nishiuchi discovered how the Spanish culture and lifestyle influences flamenco. She said flamenco is not necessarily just performing, but “a way of life.”

“Flamenco is about expressing emotion and communicating that through music and dance,” Nishiuchi said “That’s why I am excited to work with professional flamenco musicians who have a strong foundation in this music and culture.”

This appreciation for flamenco musicians inspired her project with Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative where she received a grant to work with professional flamenco musicians from across the world and educate audiences about flamenco and the culture behind it.

Although her project does not include Northfield, La Chayi performs with three flamenco musicians at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Northfield Arts Guild, 411 Third St W. The musicians include: guitarist Angel Ruiz from Cordoba, Spain; singer Jose Cortes from Marseille, France; and hand-percussionist Luis de La Tota from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Each musician has an extensive background in the world of flamenco and music. Nishiuchi said she can’t wait to meet the audiences in Northfield and expose them to the energetic, fun dance.

“I really want the audience to have a sense for the culture and see it as a base for my performance,” She said. “Plus, we will have a Q&A where people can ask questions and learn more.”

This show is only for one performance.

Tickets for this event are not sold through the Guild, but at brownpapertickets.com/event/3081578. Adults are $20, seniors and students are $17 and children are $12 in advance.

Reach Reporter Kelsey O’Hara at 507-645-1117 of follow her on Twitter @APGKelsey.

Reach Editorial Assistant Kelsey at 507-645-1117. Follow her on Twitter @APGKelsey.

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