Tag Archives: Jose Tanaka

Forever Flamenco heats up the westside with ‘Luz Y Sombra’ led by Gabriel Osuna on Feb 21

Forever Flamenco_Gabriel-Osuna

Gabriel Osuna

Because of the set design for our current hit play Dream Catcher, this month’s Forever Flamenco returns to West L.A. as guest production at the Odyssey Theatre on Sunday, February 21st at 8pm.

Journey from the traditional roots of flamenco to experimental projects featuring mixes from Osuna Productions. Under the artistic direction of guitarist Gabriel Osuna, the evening will feature dancers Vanessa Albalos and Briseyda Zarate; singer Vicente Griego; percussionist Gerardo Morales on the cajon; and guitarists Osuna and José Tanaka. The Los Angeles Times hails the series as “the earth and fire of first-class flamenco,” and LA Splash says, “Being the sensual, intimate art form that it is… the way you feel when you walk out of a Forever Flamenco performance is pretty darn fabulous.”

Forever Flamenco is produced by Deborah Lawlor and James Bennett. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard, LA, CA 90025

More Info/Get Tickets

Roberto Amaral to be Honored at ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Gala Concert Aug 9

Roberto Amaral (Ford Amphitheatre, 2009)

Roberto Amaral (Ford Amphitheatre, 2009)

This Saturday night, August 9th, the Fountain Theatre honors LA flamenco pioneer Roberto Amaral at our Forever Flamenco at the Ford  gala concert at the beautiful Ford Amphitheatre in the Hollywood Hills. Lontime dancer, choreographer and teacher Amaral was instrumental in first launching our flamenco program at the Fountain with Deborah Lawlor more than 20 years ago.   

“Roberto is a flamenco visionary with a trademark style,” comments Forever Flamenco producer Deborah Lawlor. “As he continually strives to find new and refreshing approaches to the form, he has also found an enormous sense of gratification and pride in his dedication to teach and mentor others. Many of his former students and protégés have gone on to become stars in their own right.”

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

Roberto Amaral began his professional career at the age of 17 and has since achieved worldwide acclaim as a dancer, choreographer, singer, composer, artist and master teacher. From 1968 through 1976, he enjoyed success as principal dancer and guest artist with many of the world’s foremost Spanish dance companies, touring extensively with the companies of José Greco, José Antonio, Ciro, Alberto Lorca, Rafael de Cordoba and Antonio Ruiz. Also during this early period of his career, he laid groundbreaking musical history as co-founder, co-lead vocalist, writer, arranger and choreographer of the legendary band CARMEN. It was the first musical group to ever combine flamenco with rock/pop music, both audibly and visually, performing alongside such musical luminaries as David Bowie, Jethro Tull, ELO and Santana. For television, Roberto has been a featured dancer and choreographer on numerous programs, including The Academy Awards (twice), The Tonight Show,The Barry Manilow Special and the Madrid-based Antología de la Zarzuela. He is the recipient of an EMMY Award for his collaboration with choreographer Walter Painter on the television special Lynda Carter’s Celebration. He has founded several critically acclaimed dance companies, including Danzas de España, Ballet Español de Los Ángeles, España Clásica and Fuego Flamenco — each of which has influenced the pulse of flamenco and classical Spanish dance in Southern California — and he has produced, choreographed  and designed over 500 dance solos, ensemble pieces, flamenco ballets, conceptual suites and production numbers.  In his nearly 50 year career, Roberto has been privileged to perform in many of the world’s great concert halls, theaters, arenas and nightclubs, including the Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace, Sahara and Hilton International. In Europe he has performed at London’s Victoria Theatre, Paris’ Olympia Theatre, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, Madrid’s Teatro de La Zarzuela and Milan’s La Scala Opera House.

The Fountain’s Forever Flamenco series has been called “the city’s preeminent flamenco series” by the Los Angeles Times and “L.A.’s most significant venue for flamenco” by the LA Weekly.Working Authordesignates it “the rarest of treats… for both connoisseur and novice alike, ‘Forever Flamenco’ offers the opportunity to luxuriate in the incendiary passions of flamenco.” Dance writer Debra Levine says, “Performances feature superb gypsy guitarists and singers. Do you enjoy seeing the body in spellbinding motion? Great artistic individuality? Live music? Then go,” and Stage and Cinema’s Tony Frankel writes, “Thrilling, sexy and sensuous.”

Forever Flamenco at the Ford will celebrate Amaral’s seminal 49-year career with performances by dancers Fanny Ara, Manuel Gutiérrez, Pamela Lourant, Timo Nuñez, Rocio PonceMizuho Sato, Yaelisa, Alexandra & Ryan Zermeño; singers Antonio de Jerez and Jesus Montoya; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason McGuireEl Rubio,” José Tanaka and Antonio Triana; and percussionist Joey Heredia.

To Order tickets: FordTheatres.org

“Thrilling! Sexy and Sensuous” Gala Event ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Returns August 9th

Yaelisa

Flamenco dancer Yaelisa.

It’s back! The Fountain Theatre returns to the beautiful John Anson Ford Amphitheatre with an all-star line-up of local, national and international flamenco artists to celebrate Forever Flamenco and honor LA flamenco dancer/choreographer/teacher Roberto AmaralForever Flamenco at the Ford  is the premiere flamenco event of the year in Los Angeles. Under the artistic direction of renowned flamenco dancer Yaelisa and guitarist Antonio Triana and produced by Deborah Lawlor, the Gala Event takes place on Saturday, August 9th at 8:30 pm at the Ford Theatres in Hollywood.

Last year’s Forever Flamenco at the Ford was a thrilling success and sold-out the 1200-seat venue. Tony Frankel of Stage and Cinema declared it “Breathtaking! Explosive! Thrilling! Sexy and Sensuous!”

Manuel_Gutierrez

Manuel Gutierrez

We are holding 100 of the BEST SEATS – center section, down front, up close and personal  — and offering them only to our private Fountain VIP patrons.  These prime seats are not available to the public. With these Fountain VIP tickets you get:

  • The best seats  in the house: down front, up close, center section
  • Exclusive VIP pass to the private pre-show catered party with the artists
  • Festive hand-crafted gift bag with free flamenco swag

These prime VIP TICKETS are limited and will sell out.   Click here to order online. Or call the Fountain box office (323) 663-1525. Note: These VIP tickets sold by the Fountain Theatre are tax deductible. 

Since 1990, the dancers, musicians and singers of Forever Flamenco have been delighting Fountain Theatre audiences with the intensity, precision and exhilaration for which flamenco is known. Now Forever Flamenco returns to the outdoor stage at the Ford Theatres with this passionate expression of Spanish culture in a tribute to LA Flamenco pioneer Amaral.
FOREVER FLAMENCO at FORD title image

Forever Flamenco at the Ford will be a once-in-a-lifetime gala event gathering some of flamenco’s finest artists together on stage, including dancers Fanny AraManuel Gutierrrez, Pamela LourantTimo Nuñez, Mizuho Sato, Yaelisa and Ryan Zermeno; singers Antonio de Jerez and Jesus Montoya; guitarists Adam del MonteJason McGuire “El Rubio”, Jose Tanaka and Antonio Triana; and percussionist Joey Heredia. Watch for more surprise artists, as well as a few guests and dignitaries honoring the accomplishments and contributions made by Amaral to the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

Roberto Amaral

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki-Phillips)

Sari Makki-Phillips

Roberto Amaral began his professional career at the age of 17, and has since achieved worldwide acclaim as a dancer, choreographer, singer, composer, artist and master teacher.

From 1968 through 1976, he enjoyed success as principal dancer and guest artist with many of the world’s foremost Spanish dance companies. With the companies of Jose Greco, Jose Antonio, Ciro, Alberto Lorca, Rafael de Cordoba and Antonio Ruiz, Roberto toured extensively throughout Europe and the Americas.  Also during this early period of his career, he laid groundbreaking musical history as co-founder, co-lead vocalist, writer, arranger and choreographer of the legendary band CARMEN. It was the first musical group to ever combine flamenco with rock/pop music both audibly and visually, performing alongside such musical luminaries as David Bowie, Jethro Tull, ELO and Santana.   As a television performer, Roberto has been a featured dancer and choreographer on numerous programs, most noteworthy being The Academy Awards (twice), The Tonight Show, The Barry Manilow Special and the Madrid based Antologia de la Zarzuela. In 1981, he  collaborated with choreographer Walter Painter on the television special Lynda Carter’s Celebration. For this collaboration Roberto received the prestigious EMMY AWARD honoring his contributions as flamenco consultant and lead dancer.  Most recently in 2012, he and renowned choreographer Liz Imperio collaborated on an exciting flamenco number which was featured on both the tv shows Q Viva and The Ellen Show. In 1977, Roberto formed his first of several dance companies, each of which have greatly influenced the pulse of flamenco and classical Spanish dance in Southern California for the past 37 years. The critically acclaimed companies Danzas de Espana, Ballet Espanol de Los Angeles, Espana Clasica and Fuego Flamenco are all companies Roberto has conceived, artistically directed and starred in.  As a result, he has produced, staged, designed costumes, sets and lights for, and choreographed over 500 dance solos, ensemble pieces, flamenco ballets, conceptual suites and production numbers.  In his nearly 50 year career, Roberto has been privileged to perform in many of the world’s great concert halls, theatres, arenas and nightclubs.  In the United States they include California’s  Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, Forum, Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, Ahmanson Theatre, San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts ;  New York’s Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden ;  Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace, Sahara and Hilton International.  In Europe he has performed at London’s Victoria Theatre, Paris’ Olympia Theatre, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, Madrid’s Teatro de La Zarzuela and Milan’s La Scala Opera House.  In 1990 Roberto began a critically acclaimed 7 year run of performances at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. It was during this time that many California Flamenco stars graced the Fountain Theatre stage alongside Roberto in his landmark company Fuego Flamenco.  Also during this period, Roberto choreographed and worked alongside Deborah Lawlor on her prestigious theatrical accomplishment “The Women of Guernica” as well as the Fountain Theatre filmed documentary L.A. Ole!.

Roberto is and will always be known as a visionary, with a trademark style of dance, music and art that he wants to be regarded and remembered as unique, innovative and impressionable.  As he continually strives to find new and refreshing approaches to his artistic creativity, he has also found an enormous sense of gratification and pride in his dedication to teach and mentor others. Many of his former students and proteges have gone on to become stars in their own right. This commitment  to dance garnered Roberto the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara Flamenco Society in 2004. Roberto still looks forward to many more years of creating new projects and to the continued training and nurturing of his current and future students.

Ford Amphitheatre

John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

Forever Flamenco at the Ford takes place on Saturday, August 9th. Doors open for picnicking at 6:30 pm and the show starts at 8:30 pm. Reserved seating is $50 and $75. Purchase tickets on or before August 2 and save $5. Tickets are available at www.FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (323 GO 1-FORD). For Fountain VIP Tickets call (323) 663-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.

Antonio Rodriguez Jimenez “El Chupete” from Spain Ignites ‘Forever Flamenco’ June 15th

Mizuho Sato

Mizuho Sato

Antonio Rodriguez Jimenez

Antonio Rodriguez Jimenez

Called “hot, gritty and intoxicating” by the Village Voice and “a wild man… [who] makes me scream out ‘Ole!’” by Dance Insider, dancer Antonio Rodriguez Jiminez (“ El Chupete”) comes from Sevilla, Spain to headline the June 15 edition of L.A.’s premier flamenco series, Forever Flamenco! at the Fountain Theatre. This month’s line-up also includes guitarist/artistic director Gabriel Osuna; guitarist Jose Tanaka; singer Antonio de Jerez; percussionist Gerardo Morales; and dancers Mizuho Sato and Pamela Lourant. With only 80 seats in four rows, the Fountain Theatre is the perfect venue to experience the art of flamenco. Produced by Deborah Lawlor.

MORE INFO and buy tickets (323) 663-1525

Keeping the Fire of Flamenco Burning in Los Angeles: Katina Dunn and Jose Tanaka

Katina Dunn and Jose Tanaka

Katina Dunn and Jose Tanaka

By Mikey Hirano Culross

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 directorial debut is the film “Kumpanía: Flamenco Los Angeles,” which will have a screening this Friday, at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. Showing as part of the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, the film will be followed by a live concert by flamenco guitar virtuoso Jose Tanaka, who is among the artists profiled in “Kumpanía”.

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.

Mizuho Sato

Mizuho Sato

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 is Arts & Entertainment Editor for Rafu Shimpo

Kumpania & Jose Tanaka Friday, July 19 (323) 663-1525  MORE

Fountain Theatre’s Fantastic Flamenco Fiesta at the Ford

Fin Fiestaby Tony Frankel

While classic and modern dance seem to be continually reinventing themselves, Flamenco remains a bedrock of the moving arts. As Forever Flamenco! at the Ford proved last Saturday, age and body type have nothing to do with the soulful expressiveness inherent in this traditional dance form.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."

Maria Bermudez

There are many forms of dance and song that emerged as a celebration of life amidst human suffering, but surely Flamenco thrillingly stands out as an example of such an art form. There are moments in the music that clearly reflect Indian, Islamic and Moorish influence. Some Flamenco music styles (palos) have been attributed to Jewish influences, as the Jews were firmly ensconced in Iberia since Roman times. And Andalusia, home to Flamenco, is in the south of the Iberian Peninsula.

“But who wants a history lesson?” asked Artistic Director Maria Bermúdez to the sold out crowd at the Ford Amphitheater. This evening was about celebrating Flamenco and to honor Deborah Lawlor, founder of the Fountain Theatre, where Forever Flamenco! plays once a month. Bermúdez, who has an uncanny ability to gather unparalleled artists, presented a line-up of local, national and international artists for a sexy and captivating evening.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."

Manuel Guiterrez

The explosive energy created by dancer Timo Nuñez at the start was, as they say, a hard act to follow. In his shiny red shoes, this tall and elegant artist began casually, but soon offered dynamic footwork that sounded like firecrackers. Then he would do a studly stroll, allowing the dance to breathe, often lifting his shirt to show a bit of skin. Sometimes, this graceful storyteller of dance stared at us as an egret looks for a fish in a lake. Although I don’t remember ever seeing such a hunky egret.

Equally thrilling was Manuel Gutierrez, who opened the second act and emulated a bullfighter. He wasn’t showing off, yet he displayed a crackling tap and pedal pyrotechnics the likes of which confirmed why Flamenco is so compelling. So fiery and passionate was Gutierrez that my companion said afterwards, “That’s it. I’m booking us on the next flight to Seville.”

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."

Alejandro Granados

The ridiculously sexy and sensuous Fanny Ara (think Salma Hayek) offered us a dance which was defiant, seductive, searching and scorching hot – and WAY too short. Mizuho Sato was another classic beauty who I wish had more stage time. All of the guitarists, whether jazzy or classical, were some of the best I have ever heard. Jason McGuire accompanied Ms. Ara with smoldering fast fingerwork that was a brilliant combination of new age work, á la William Ackerman, and traditional Flamenco. I can’t believe all of that music came out of one guitar. Likewise Jose Tanaka, who overlayed his work with a soulful yearning and accessible dissonance. The other guitarists – Antonio Triana, Ben Woods and Adam del Monte – were ably accompanied by the extraordinary percussionist Joey Heredia.

Alejandro Granados was a man drunk with life and passion. Somewhat nattily dressed in red pants, Granados looked like he could be a seaside merchant or a pawn shop owner. But looks and age have nothing to do with the spirit of Flamenco. Audience members actually began to shout as this older gentleman executed a timeless combination of dance artistry and comedic storytelling, giving us more character than an O’Neill drama.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."It may be politically incorrect to mention a woman’s age or body type, but whether we are supposed to say Rubenesque, full-figured or otherwise, there were some women on stage whose magnificence proved that anyone can master Flamenco. Lourdes Rodriguez, with spangles around her waist, brought whimsy, silliness and celebration to her dance (she was the one I most wanted to run up on stage to dance with). Linda Vega’s work was so admirable that I was shocked to discover that this was Ms. Vega after knee surgery. Well done! Most impressive was Yaelisa, a middle-aged woman who proved that time cannot quell the fiery gipsy spirit. This seasoned performer with amazing rhythm was humorous, expressive, joyful and reflective, vacillating from a spunky spirit to a trance-like seduction.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."

Fanny Ara

The vocalists were no ordinary singers; to the untrained ear, it may seem like they are struggling to hold a note, but that wailing and fluttering is the evolved style of the suffering gipsy, and, at times, sounded eerily like the plaintive yowling of nomadic Native American tribes or the spiritual yearnings of Jewish Sephardic music. Our powerful singers were Jose Cortes, Ana de los Reyes, Pelé de los Reyes and Ismael de la Rosa.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA Dance Review of the Fountain Theatre's "Forever Flamenco! at the Ford."

Timo Nunez

In some of the group numbers, it was difficult to ascertain what was choreographed and what was spontaneous, but all of these impeccable artists worked together seamlessly, occasionally eyeing each other’s body parts (feet, hands, hips, eyes) as they performed with rhythmic intention – no differently than the most passionate lover looks upon a paramour during sex.¿Hace calor aqui? I would have preferred a stronger finish in some of the sets, as dancers just casually strolled away. But come to think of it, I’ve had some lovers do that, too.

The free-for-all in the finale included one of the most captivating moments captured on stage when four young girls executed some flawless dancing in colorful Flamenco flocked skirts. These artists who promise to bring Flamenco into the future were more than adorable – they were breathtaking and inspiring. Then again, so was the entire evening.

photos © Optimage Photography

Tony Frankel writes for Stage and Cinema

Fountain Family Spotlight: Bruce Bisenz

Brice Bisenz PHOTO color
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 

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: VIP Party at ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’

Pele de los Reyes, Deborah Lawlor, Maria Bermudez, Ana de los Reyes

Pele de los Reyes, Deborah Lawlor, Maria Bermudez, Ana de los Reyes

Forever Flamenco at the Ford, our Gala Concert at the Ford Amphitheatre celebrating 20 years of Forever Flamenco and honoring Deborah Lawlor, was a thrilling event and a huge success.  It was unsurpassed as an evening of flamenco artistry. Stage and Cinema hailed the night “Fantastic” and “breathtaking and inspiring”.  The event also exceeded as a fundraiser: the 1200-seat venue was sold-out.

Prior to the concert, our special VIP guests were treated to a private catered reception where they enjoyed food, wine, social mixing with the flamenco artists, and festive gift bags. 

Enjoy These Photos from the VIP Party

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Flamenco’s furor to blaze in Deborah Lawlor tribute at Ford Theatre

Deborah Lawlor and her friend, Rupert.

Deborah Lawlor and her friend, Rupert.

By Debra Levine

One of L.A.’s most accomplished arts impresarios will float in flamenco heaven this Saturday night when her helming of her 20-year-running series “Forever Flamenco!” will be honored in an all-star performance at the Ford Theatre.

Deborah Lawlor, southern California’s key importer of the gypsy art form, will take a rare turn as spectator, and not producer, when her favorite flamenco artists — dancers and musicians — hot up the outdoor amphitheater’s nippy night air.

Concurrent to this tribute, a moving and well-crafted flamenco-themed play, “Heart Song,” is enjoying one-month run at The Fountain Theatre, the wonderfully funky East Hollywood house where Lawlor launched “Forever Flamenco!”

josegrecoThe recognition must be gratifying for Lawlor, whose dance journey began during her Riverside childhood. The self-described “flamenco nut” was raised in a dance-friendly family (her aunt Olga Hammond was an early modern dancer). Her arts-loving mom organized frequent performance forays into L.A.

One memorable outing was to see Jose Greco at the Wilshire Ebell Theater.

“I was a little bit bored by him,” Lawlor admits. “He stood in one place and did footwork. The intimate atmosphere was lost in the big theater with shows like his.”

Years later, Lawlor, sophisticated after pursuit of a flamenco education, explains, “There’s the virtuosity and there’s the meaning. You can get bored by pure virtuosity. I learned that flamenco is the play of rhythm and contre-tiempos, the palmas [hand claps]. There is a whole world of rhythmic stuff going on. If you are just watching a dancer stomp his feet, you can be bored. The more musical background you have the more you can enjoy it.”

A multilingual world traveler who has lived and studied abroad, journeying between India, Australia, Egypt and France, Lawlor notes: “Flamenco is a kind of inward expression; to project it out is a different feel. ‘Cause the songs themselves can be very intimate, some very dark, about death, but you have to kind of go with the lighter aspects of flamenco, the joyous songs as well as the tragic ones.

“Of course, I love it a lot. The more you get into it, the more it opens up to you.”

Saturday night Lawlor will be surrounded by the international band of gypsies she has cultivated and promoted, a group of singers and dancers cherry-picked from Europe and from the flamenco communities of San Francisco and Phoenix.

One of her prime protégées, the acclaimed dancer Maria Bermudez, is producing the show in honor of Lawlor’s huge achievement.

Maria Bermudez

Maria Bermudez

“Forever Flamenco! was born of Deborah’s love and total immersion into flamenco,” says Bermudez. “Young dancers, up-and-coming dancers, seasoned professionals and international dancers – all of us have all come through Forever Flamenco! at the Fountain. I took my first baby steps there.”

Bermudez, considered to be one of the foremost international flamenco artists in the world today, resides in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, the “birthplace” of flamenco. She was the model for one of the lead characters of “Heart Song,” a role she has played for the past few weeks.

“Forever Flamenco!” at the Ford dancers will include Roberto Amaral, Fanny Ara, Maria Bermudez, Alejandro Granados (Spain), Manuel Gutierrrez, Timo Nuñez, Linda Vega and Yaelisa; singers José Cortes, Ana de los Reyes (Spain) and Ismael de la Rosa (from Spain); singer/composer Pele de los Reyes (Spain) of the Grammy®-nominated group Navajita Platea; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason McGuire, José Tanaka, Antonio Triana; and percussionist Joey Heredia.

Lawlor loves “Heart Song” a drama written by her longtime Fountain Theater co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. She says, “It’s just lovely, it’s wonderful.”

"Heart Song" at the Fountain Theatre

“Heart Song” at the Fountain Theatre

Heart Song is a joy. It’s all woman cast, and the crew is all women. It has the aspect of flamenco but it also a mother-daughter drama about a Jewish woman who didn’t realize her mother had been in the [concentration] camp; she never spoke about her childhood. Anybody can relate to that.”

The sure-to-be-sizzling Ford flamenco program and the well staged and performed “Heart Song” are both recommended. We especially love the Ford’s historic Cahuenga Pass setting, a stellar venue for a pre-performance urban picnics.

Debra Levine writes for Arts Meme.

More Info:  Forever Flamenco at the Ford          Heart Song

‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Makes Live TV Appearance

 

Guitarist Antonio Triana and dancer Maria Bermudez.

Guitarist Antonio Triana and dancer Maria Bermudez.

Flamenco artists Maria Bermudez , Antonio Triana and Pele de los Reyes made an early-morning live TV appearance on  Univision KMEX 34 today to promote our upcoming Forever Flamenco at the Ford Gala Concert at the Ford Amphitheatre this Saturday, June 15th at 8:30pm. 

Univision 34, Los Angeles was the first UHF station in southern California, and the first to broadcast in Spanish in Los Angeles. Univision 34, Los Angeles serves the Hispanic community and offers programs that inform Spanish-speaking viewers about local and global events that educate and entertain.

Hailed as “LA’s most significant venue for flamenco” by LA Weekly, the Fountain Theatre returns to the Ford stage after a two year absence, bringing the finest local, national and international flamenco artists to celebrate this passionate expression of Spanish culture. Forever Flamenco’s dancers, musicians and singers have been delighting audiences for years with the intensity, precision and exhilaration for which flamenco is known. This year’s show pays tribute to the founder of the Fountain’s flamenco program, Deborah Lawlor, a Los Angeles icon and ardent supporter of the art form for more than two decades. 

The Forever Flamenco All-Star line-up includes: Vanessa Abalos * Roberto Amaral * Fanny Ara * Maria Bermudez * José Cortes * Alejandro Granados * Manuel Gutierrez * Joey Heredia * Jason McGuire * Adam del Monte * Timo Nuñez * Rocio Ponce * Ana de los Reyes * Pele de los Reyes * Ismael de la Rosa * Lourdes Rodriguez * Mizuho Sato * Jose Tanaka * Antonio Triana * Linda Vega * Ben Woods * Yaelisa.

Enjoy These Photos from Today’s Live TV Appearance

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Forever Flamenco at the Ford  Saturday June 15  (323) 461-3673  MORE