Next time you’re wandering Congress Street wondering where all the primal spice in your life has escaped to, consider chomping a rose stem and blasting the vivacious sounds of Olas out your speakers. This gypsy crew of musicians from Portland fuses folk and flamenco, and has packed the sweatiest, sexiest dance floors in town.

Sadly, the troupe is going on hiatus at the end of the month, so if you’re into devastating rhythms and swirling crimson dresses, get to Space Gallery on Friday night to be taken by an Olas storm for the last time until further notice. But first, read on for more about the group from Chriss Sutherland (lead vocals, guitar, palmas), Megan Keogh (zapateado, palmas, vocals) and Lindsey Bourassa (zapateado, palmas, vocals).

What is Olas?

Sutherland: As our website says: “Olas is a band of musicians and dancers from Portland, Maine, inspired by traditional and modern flamenco, translated through a blend of American folk, rock, Arabic and Afro-Cuban sounds.”

We are a group of friends with varied backgrounds who really love to hang out, create and express our personalities.

This is your last show for a little while. What gives?

Sutherland: We have been doing Olas for three years, and it’s time to take a bit of a break so some of our members can travel and study elsewhere; namely Lindsey, who will be studying the flamenco tradition further and deeper in Sevilla, Spain. I think it’s important for all citizens of this great country to realize that musical groups can exist forever without ever playing a show or making a record.

Keogh: The rest of us will stay here and hopefully still get together to cook, eat, drink lots of wine and play music.

How important is dance to the Olas experience?

Sutherland: I would say that the dance experience is easily 50 to 60 percent of the Olas experience. The dancing is what really grounds the music and brings emotional meaning to what, like many songs, is just a string of words, notes, chords and rhythms. The dancing is truly beautiful.

Bourassa: Both the music and dance of Olas are integral components, each inspired by and working with the other. The choreographies stand as visual and emotive responses to the music and the meaning of the songs, while the music responds to and takes cues from the sounds and movements of the dance, engaging both elements in a series of calls and responses. Within the dance, the footwork (percussive tapping of the feet) is also an important part of Olas’ percussion section of palmas, cajon and bongo, working to complement each song as a whole.

Describe some highlight performances from the last three years.

Sutherland: One of our highlight performances from the last three years was our CD-release show for “La Perla” at Mayo Street Arts. It just felt like the audience wanted to be there as much as we did.

Bourassa: Overall, an ongoing highlight has been the outpouring of support and warm reception we have received from our community over the last three years.

How does your new material compare to 2009’s “La Perla”?

Sutherland: The new material is much more evolved, mature and realized. About half the group had never recorded before when we sat down to do “La Perla,” so there was a lot to learn, not to mention (determining) how to record an eight-piece group with dancing. The new music and recording are much better representations of what we are/were attempting to get across.

Bourassa: We have relaxed around trying to “fit” the musical traditions that first influenced us. In the process, we have found a stronger voice that is truly ours, while oddly coming closer to the essence of those influences that first inspired us.

What do you lose when Lindsey departs to Spain?

Sutherland: We lose the physical presence of a kind, emotive and benevolent friend.

Keogh: The group loses a family member and a beautiful, passionate dancer. We are all going to miss Lindsey terribly and I am personally going to lose someone who is like a sister to me and a great motivator in my life. This group really pushed me to start dancing again, and I am so grateful to Lindsey for giving me that push.

How do you hope the Olas project will grow in the future?

Sutherland: We are not entirely sure. We hope that, like all great friendships, we will remain in close contact, communicate honestly and often, and when the appropriate moment arises, we’ll strike up the band again.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer.