Tag Archives: Ernest Kearney

‘Forever Flamenco’ at the Fountain Theatre is the best ticket in town

Marina Valiente

Marina Valiente

by Ernest Kearney 

Well once again you have the opportunity of experiencing one of the true treats of L.A.

Sunday, May 22 8pm – Forever Flamenco.

Why do I keep urging you to get down to the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood and partake in this monthly series?

What makes Flamenco so special, you ask?

Well, all right, since you asked –

It is the nature of all life to evolve. From the nascent state we develop until the fullness of our potential is obtained or the natural limitations of our species reached. One can disagree and debate the question of potential-limitation, but not that the ultimate stage bears slight similitude to that of the inception stage.

In a fashion, the babe is lost to the child, the child to the youth, the youth to the adult.

It is true of art forms that they evolve from a primal form, developing intellectual dimensions artistic frameworks. The loss of a certain primal intensity is payment for that progression.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful, I know, so let ‘s put forth some illustrations.

Pliny the Elder reports that Zeuxis, a Greek painter of the 5th century B.C.E., would have guests try to eat the grapes painted on his canvases. And that Parrhasios, a fellow artist of Zeuxis, invited him to view a new work covered over by a lace curtain. When Zeuxis went to lift the lace curtain he found it was part of the painting.

The 13th century Italian artist Giotto liked to paint little flies on his works then watch patrons try to shoo them.

In 1849 twenty to thirty thousand rioting New Yorkers confronted the National Guard troops called up to re-establish order resulting in more than thirty deaths. The cause of their uprising? A production of Shakespeare.

When J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World premiered it too caused a riot, though not nearly as bloody.

Timo

Timo Nunez

My passion for theatre knows no bounds, but sadly, I’m reduced to imagining what the state of catharsis must have been like to reduce an ancient Greek audience to a sobbing mass incapable of speech, or what passion could be played upon to plunge me into a frenzy of rioting.

When the raw throbbing notes of jazz was first heard it threw some into wild paroxysms. Decent women fainted.

The same can be said of rock and roll and even rap.

Once, not very long ago, the experience of rap was felt by some as less “music” than throbbing hammer blows of anger, rage and revolt.

Now, Ice-T does pamper commercials and you can hear “Fuck the Police” as muzak while waiting in line to make a deposit at Bank of America.

Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 The Great Train Robbery, one of the first film “works” to employ editing in the telling of its story, concludes with one of the robbers on the screen pointing his gun at the audience and firing.

When first shown, members of the audience dived under their seats.

Film, the youngest of arts, has all but lost that quality that permitted those engaging in it to be engulfed by its artifact, transported by its manufactured illusion.

The exception that tests the rule here being Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, a 2 hour, 6 minute Christian stuff film with only 16 torture free minutes of which 2 minutes were taken up by the resurrection and none to the tenets of Jesus’ teaching. 

Whatever forms the creative imperative embodies, the accretion of artistry infuses accessibilty but defuses the ascendancy of the incipient urging behind the creative act.

Forever Flamenco_Gabriel-Osuna

Gabriel Osuna

Art, like the Titan Antaeus is robbed of its strength when removed from the soil that is its mother.

Flamenco, I find, still has a fast grip to the dark and tragic history, the pain and passion that was the life breath of the cante jondo, the traditional “deep song.”

In the sound of Flamenco, the fury of its dance, we have echoes from the dark corners of the human soul as profound today as they were three centuries ago.

Nowhere will the sorrow and joy of the human condition find expression with more sublime defiance than in the music and dance of flamenco.

Deborah Lawlor, for one Sunday every month, has lured world class talent to a small corner of Hollywood with the Forever Flamenco series at The Fountain Theatre.

Scheduled to appear at the next performance on Sunday May 22nd at 8:30: Gabriel Osuna will be the evening’s guitarist. Osuna plays with garra, meaning “guts” or “vitality.” Evidence of this is found if you examine his fingers which he coats in Super Glue to give the tips added protection.

Mateo Amper will be at the piano and Gerardo Morales is the featured percussionist as well as the evening’s director.

If these three musicians were matched in a battle of the bands with any philharmonic orchestra in the country, when it was over, it wouldn’t be the ones in tuxes wearing the laurels.

Dancer Timo Nuñez is a melding of grace and raw power who is stunning to watch.

Singer Jesus Montoya is another familiar face in the series, who fills every note he sings with such emotional power it could make bricks weep.

Marina Valiente will be making her debut at the Fountain. I am confident it will be a debut very worth seeing.

I know, I said it before. Well guess what? I’m saying it again: Forever Flamenco – The best tickets in LA. Click 

Ernest Kearney is an award winning L.A. playwright and freelance writer. This post originally appeared in The Tvolution.

Passionate Star Power Lights Up ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ on Aug 9

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

by Ernest Kearney

Those who frequent my site will be well aquainted with my boundless enthusiasm for the “Forever Flamenco!” series presented monthly at the Fountain Theatre. If you’d care to see from where this passion first arose, then your chance is coming. “Forever Flamenco!”, the once a year“Juerga”, returns to the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 9th.

For those never exposed to flamenco this is an opportunity of the rarest sort. Imagine attending a single night at the theatre and being treated to the talents of Olivier, Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Or imagine going to a concert and seeing on the same stage Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, The Stones, Kurt Cobain, Lady GaGa and Chuck Berry.

This is what “Forever Flamenco! at the Ford” offers: a gathering of the greatest artists across the generations.

Manuel_Gutierrez

Manuel Gutierrez (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Among those featured this year will be Manuel Gutiérrez, who began dancing flamenco at the age of four and was winning flamenco dance competitions by eight. Gutiérrez is the soul of “coraje” or spontaneity and to watch him perform is to realize that nothing expresses the masculine vigor in dance as flamenco does. You come to believe that when he dances the world must tremble under his feet.

Yaelisa is a dancer who can stake out a small portion of the stage and through her “cierre” (dance steps) bring forth a “desgarro”, “wildness” that is a tempest of tempo.

Mizuho Sato is a Japanese-born dancer and a testament to the global appeal of flamenco. When she comes on stage be prepared for magic.

Jason McGuire, “El Rubio”, does not “play” the guitar – he dominates it, and performs with the dynamism you’d expect of “The Big Bang”.

Yaelisa_Jason_Two

Yaelisa and Jason McGuire

Cantaor Antonio de Jerez is a talent one feels grateful for having seen. When singing, one hears the history of Spain in his voice.

Nowhere can you find grace more infused with power, nor the sorrow of the human condition expressed with greater perfection than in the music and dance of flamenco. All art forms evolved outward from ancient origins, and, sadly, in that process which serves to define their artistry that primal potency, the intensity of their source, is lost.

Not so with flamenco. It has held onto its dark and tragic history, and that pain which breathes life into the cante jondo, the grand song, is as profound today as it was three centuries ago.

Roberto Amaral

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

This year’s audience is also gathering to pay homage to one of flamenco’s most esteemed figures Roberto Amaral. In a career spanning half a century, Amaral has excelled in every facet of flamenco – dancer, singer, choreographer, composer and teacher.

He has performed with the greats of flamenco such as José Greco and José Antonio as well as Santana, Jethro Tull and David Bowie.

The Ford’s open air stage, with the stars on display above, makes it the perfect venue for an evening profuse with this city’s rich history, for The flamenco baile (dance) and cante (song) were part of California dating back to the 1700’s and the ranchos of the Spanish crown. The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre was originally built in 1920, by author and playwright Christine Wetherill Stevenson who saw the rugged beauty of the Cahuenga Pass as the ideal setting for her “The Pilgrimage Play”, a work on the life of Jesus “transcribed from the Scriptures”.

The play was performed there yearly until the original wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1929. In 1931 the structure was rebuilt, designed in the style of “ancient Judaic architecture”. Though “The Pilgrimage Play” performances were ended in 1964, the Ford Amphitheatre continues to resemble the gates of ancient Jerusalem.

Antonio Triana

Antonio Triana

The LA Weekly has hailed this event as “the rarest of treats…for both connoisseur and novice”, and I couldn’t agree more. But where they call the Fountain Theatre’s Forever Flamenco! series “L.A.’s most significant venue for flamenco”, I say rather, it is flamenco’s most significant venue in all of North America. With the Ford show, the most diverse and cosmopolitan audience in the world is given the opportunity of experiencing not just the star of flamenco, but its legends.

Forever Flamenco at the Ford SAT AUG 9th (323) 461-3673