SAETA: The Mourning Dance Film

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchDigital or Visual Media


    Dance Film accepted into international Dance Film Festivals and won awards.

    Cultures and art forms have a symbiotic relationship and flamenco is a clear reflection of this dynamic. The Romani culture has always been a marginalized community within Spain yet revered for their performance artistry. This contradiction creates a tension between both cultures which is revealed through flamenco. I analyze how such a relationship is formed and focus on the use of a Spanish Mantilla, black lace, to illustrate this paradox. The Romani community's tradition of Luto, a mourning period, is honoured through the wearing of the black mantilla. This object belongs to a sacred rite and ritual but has been normalised and is now a piece of costume that is a common symbol found throughout many tourist shops in Spain and in numerous Flamenco spectacles. Roma are a private and traditional people, especially about sacred objects and yet, the mantilla has become a visual representation that is often identified with Spain and flamenco. This presentation will explore the paradoxical nature of Andalusia and will consider how the Romani community and its various traditions and art form have influenced the region, despite them being a community that is marginalised.

    The singing of the Saeta, which is a traditional religious song that resembles Flamenco, is a form of prayer or devotion traditionally sung unaccompanied, stemming from the Jewish religious song which is believed to date back to the 16th century. In the dance short “SAETA: The Mourning” (Cisneros, 2015) uses the peineta and mantilla as a focus for the film. Cisneros works closely with the videographer and editors to honour traditional aspects of the peineta, Saeta and mantilla and pushes it into a contemporary context. The dance short takes the traditional religious song, the Saeta, sung during Spain's Holy Week and brings it to a modern setting. The song is heard typically during a procession and is usually associated with death. The Flamenco movement vocabulary explores grief and longing and the film plays with this concept. Black is usually associated with mourning and the Spanish comb, the peineta, is important to the Saeta song and to Holy Week. In the film the peineta is juxtaposed by a modern outfit and is playing with the ideas of new ways of seeing and old ways of being. The film's costuming and dancing pushes boundaries and the camera work frames the movement and adds to the anxiety the choreography is playing with. The film has screened in several film festivals internationally and has won awards.

    1.Can a traditional Flamenco song that prohibits someone dancing to it, be performed?
    2.How might objects, in this case the Peineta and the mantilla, which are associated with mourning be a source of inspiration for a performance piece?
    3.Can colour and timbre of a screen dance film reflect a song that is closely associated with death and mourning?
    4.Can a dance film that address a modern audience play with traditional objects of mourning and use Flamenco dancing to punctuate and push boundaries?
    5.How can a dancing body on screen raise questions of culture, identity and ownership and explored the appropriation of a dance form?

    Underpinned by two papers that were accepted in two symposiums:
    1)Body^Space^Object^Memory 2015 (Coventry, UK)
    2)Light Moves Symposium 2016 (Limerick, Ireland)
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherFROST BITE International Film Festival
    Media of outputOnline
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This film was also shown at FAD Festival: Film-Art-Dance 2017, at Cary Theater, North Carolina.


    • Dance
    • DanceFilm
    • Flamenco
    • Cultural Heritage


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