Enjoy these glorious photos by Bruce Bisenz capturing the passion and excitement of our Forever Flamenco concert on January 19 starring Lakshmi Basile and company. Featuring artists Lakshmi Basile, Pedro Cortes, Luis de la Tota, Jesus Montoya, and Jeff Pekarek. Produced by Deborah Lawlor and now in its 13th smash year, our Forever Flamenco series has established the Fountain the hottest flamenco venue in Los Angeles. Check out Bruce’s photos and see why!
A new documentary, exploring the reach of flamenco music and dance into Los Angeles, screens Friday at the Fountain Theatre.
Conventional wisdom would have us assume that anyone directing a documentary has at least scant knowledge of the subject being explored.
Asked how much she knew about flamenco music before beginning her film project, Katina Dunn was pretty forthcomng about it.
“Nothing. Not a thing,” she said.
A journalist by trade, the Chicago native happened into a small club in Hollywood in 2010, and was instantly enchanted by a group of flamenco musicians and dancer Mizuho Sato.
“After I saw these guys playing, I went home and searched for them on Google, and there was nothing,” Dunn recalled at the Rafu Shimpo offices last week. “I knew I had to do something on them, because their performance was so moving. I knew what they were creating was incredible.”
Dunn’s film explores the reach of flamenco into cultures outside of its birthplace in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. The folk music – whose name translates roughly to “the folklore of the flame” – has enjoyed great popularity in Japan, where it is said there are more flamenco schools than in Spain.
Tanaka, 44, said his parents were part of the generation that first embraced flamenco, and his given name is a direct result of their enthusiasm. He endured endless lessons, and when he was 18, his mother suggested he go study guitar in Spain.
Young Jose had other ideas.
“I said, ‘Screw that, I’m going to Hollywood!’ I wanted to be a rock star,” he explained.
Tanaka was working as a guitar instructor at a small music school shortly after arriving in L.A. in 1987. He said he soon became disillusioned with the monotony of his job.
“At the time, hard rock bands like Metallica and Pearl Jam were very popular, and I was teaching these kids that kind of stuff,” he said. “I found that they picked it up so quickly and I felt like I wasn’t much better than those kids. I didn’t feel like I was special, and all this time I was avoiding flamenco.”
All the while, his mother back in his hometown of Kyoto continued to send news of up-and-coming flamenco artists. But it wasn’t until the renowned Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía came to L.A. for a concert that the flamenco fire was rekindled in Tanaka’s heart.
“All the memories started to come back. There were a lot of mixed feelings, but I realized how much I missed flamenco. I was really brought to tears,” he said.
“Kumpanía” also features Sato, a native of Iwate Prefecture who teaches dance and has been performing with Tanaka’s group since 2004.
Jose Tanaka will perform a live solo concert immediately following the screening of ‘Kumpania’ on Friday night, July 19 at 8pm at the Fountain Theatre.
Mikey Hirano Culross isArts & Entertainment Editor forRafu Shimpo
Kumpania & Jose Tanaka Friday, July 19 (323) 663-1525 MORE
I fell in love with Flamenco as a teenager listening to Carmen Amaya. From that time on I was always looking for live Flamenco-and that’s the real stuff not “Spanish Dance.” I came to find out that the Fountain Theatre was THE place. Debroah Lawlor has been the Flamenco Patron for Los Angeles.
The Fountain’s years-long series Forever Flamenco really changed my life.
During the time when the series played every Sunday, I remember a bystander asking me “Why do you come every Sunday” to which I answered “Because they only do it on Sunday.” I went from an avid watcher/listener to a photographer documenting the passionate artists on the Fountain’s intimate stage. This has become more than an avocation. It is so rewarding that I can provide some small support to this unique art I love.
The Fountain Theatre has a small dedicated team of writers, producers and directors. They have a year-round schedule of plays that showcase their 80-seat theatre. With such modest facilities you might assume that the dramatic quality is, similarly, modest. You would be wrong! So it was with great excitement that I learned that Stephen Sachs had written a Flamenco themed play, Heart Song.
All women are beautiful when they dance Flamenco. Such beauty and passion– my camera loves them all.
– Bruce Bisenz
Bruce is the subject of the award-winning flamenco film Kumpania:
See Kumpania at the Fountain July 19 followed by a live solo concert by flamenco guitar master Jose Tanaka. MORE INFO
After almost one year of presenting the smash hit Forever Flamenco in the 300-seat Gallery Theatre in Barnsdall Park, producer Deborah Lawlor brought it “back home” to the intimate 78-seat Fountain Theatre for a special concert on March 18. The show was passionate, exhilarating, and a dynamic reminder that nothing beats experiencing Flamenco up-close-and-personal just a few feet away from your seat.
The thrilling close proximity was also a blessing for longtime Flamenco photographer Bruce Bisenz, who has brilliantly chronicled the Flamenco scene in Los Angeles with his camera for many years.
Here is a collection of vibrant photos of the March 18 performance taken by Bruce Bisenz, including this one we’re now using for the new Forever Flamenco poster:
“This extraordinary image was one result of the performance, ” says Bruce. “So perfect that it looks like a posed set up. I would point out to you the symmetry of 100 years of Flamenco (1912 and 2012), both ladies in white dresses, their complementary posture and, finally, the change in the role of women as indicated by the extraordinary and uninhibited Paloma, live and unposed.This is, again, the result of the intimate magic of Flamenco at the Fountain.”
More Gorgeous Photos by Bruce Bisenz of the March 18 performance of Forever Flamenco at the Fountain: