The passion of flamenco burns bright in Adriana Diaz.
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Adriana began dancing aged six when her mother encouraged her to take to the stage to boost her confidence.
“I was incredibly shy,’’ says Adriana, an administration officer at Centacare.
“My two sisters had massive personalities but I would hardly ever speak in public and even introducing myself at school I was shaking.
“Mum said I needed help to become more confident and outgoing. Now no one can shut me up. I took it to the extreme!’’
By the age of 12, Adriana was concentrating solely on the complex Spanish art form which uses music, dance, passion and lyrics to create what she describes as a way of life.
“I started originally with jazz and tap and then flamenco came along and I loved it from the first time I saw it. I thought, this is my thing!
“It just has a way of pulling things from you that you don’t think you have.’’
After five years spent training and performing, Adriana put flamenco on hold to study communications in the hope of becoming a journalist.
But as press freedom deteriorated in Venezuela and journalists were oppressed by arrest, harassment and violence, Adriana switched to public relations and advertising. She married and began plotting a move overseas.
“My country was in trouble and it wasn’t safe to live there and there were no opportunities for young couples to fulfil their dreams,’’ she says.
Within nine months, Adriana and her husband were on their way to Adelaide where a chance meeting reignited her passion for dance.
“Mum told me when I packed `take your shoes and your skirt, you might take it up again’ but I never thought I’d need them.
“Then I met this girl through other friends my husband met at a bus stop. It was just one of those crazy coincidences. She told me she danced at a flamenco school so I went to one of her shows.
“I was blown away. I would have never thought flamenco of that calibre would be in Adelaide.’’
Enrolling at Alma Flamenca, Adriana went back to beginner level to hone her craft. She is now part of the performance company and a teacher at the school.
In her adopted country, Adriana uses flamenco to release the pain of missing home.
“For people to feel the intensity of flamenco, you have to connect with real emotion,’’ she says.
“When I’m dancing I think about family and how much I miss them; that I haven’t met my nephew or my niece… all the things that break my heart.
“Flamenco is what keeps me sane. When I’m stressed at work or I hear a sad story from a client, the only way for me to let it go is to dance, and I find a way to channel those emotions so I don’t bring it into my marriage or my friendships or my work.’’