In 2015, the MGQ and flamenco dancer Sachiko “La Chayí” reunited for a fascinating concert collaboration featuring original productions of two beautiful collections of music by the great Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. With music arranged by the MGQ, the choreography by Sachiko reflects the extraordinary vitality of Spanish culture and includes Spanish regional and folk dancing, classical ballet and flamenco. In 2016, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and Sachiko will also perform the newly commissioned Iberian Quartet by flamenco guitarist/composer Ben Abrahamson.
Beginning in 2006, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet developed several guitar quartet with dance programs in collaboration with flamenco dancer Colette Illarde and toured these programs with Colette and Sachiko in several states including MN, WI, IL, KS, MI, NY, CA and TX.
“Every aspect of the concert was superb: the choice of repertoire, an engaging performance, and your rapport with the audience,” remarked Professor Susan Marchant (Pittsburg State University Solo and Chamber Music Series). “The addition of flamenco dance to the second half of the program was a stroke of brilliance, and it brought a unique artistic flair to what we already knew would be a highly festive finale to our year-long series. I’ve been the lucky recipient of many expressions of thanks for our having presented your ensemble in concert.”
A native of Osaka, Japan, Sachiko Nishiuchi—affectionately known as “La Chayí”—has been a passionate flamenco dancer, teacher, presenter and producer for more than 20 years. Sachiko fell in love with the art form while still in high school in Japan where the dance is popular, and began taking flamenco classes soon after college.
In 2000, Sachiko moved to Minnesota where she became a resident artist of Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre in Minneapolis. She also worked with various dance companies, theaters, and organizations including Ananya Dance Theater, The Southern Theater, and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. Expanding into choreography, Sachiko created and presented original flamenco theater works including Hiroshima: A Night Dreamt and a Day Flashed to Burn (2007), an Intermedia Arts' co-presentation project, and The Apple Tree (2009), part of the Walker Art Center's Momentum series.
She has been a recipient of various awards and honors including the 2009 People’s Choice Award at the Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance, and a study grant from the Jerome Foundation.
Sachiko moved to Seville, Spain in 2010 to deepen her knowledge and skill of the flamenco art form. Her first-hand exposure to Seville’s people, culture, language, and origins would prove transformational. For five years, she performed at various flamenco venues throughout the city and studied with such influential teachers as Pilar Montoya Manzano (“La Faraona”), Farruquito, El Torombo, Luis Peña, and Javier Heredia as well as other artists such as Miguel Funi and Juan del Gastor. It was Pilar Montoya Manzano who gave her the name “La Chayí” which Sachiko has retained to honor her late, great teacher.
In 2015, Sachiko returned to Minneapolis where she regularly teaches and performs. Her travels often take her back to Spain, Japan, and other parts of the world to dance, study, and share her love affair with the art of flamenco.
Photo by Leslie Shank