Tag Archives: Pele de los Reyes

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

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

New Video: Maria Bermudez “Comes Home” to ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’


Flamenco artist Maria Bermudez  describes her longtime friendship with Fountain Producing Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, her ongoing artistic relationship with the Fountain Theatre and Forever Flamenco, and her warm affinity for the beautiful outdoor Ford Theatre.

Forever Flamenco at the Ford is a Special Gala Event of World-Class Flamenco Artists on June 15th at the Ford Theatre. An All-Star lineup of Flamenco artists from Spain, from across the United States and Los Angeles come together on stage for the first time to celebrate 20 years of Forever  Flamenco and to honor its founder, Deborah Lawlor. Artist line-up include dancers Fanny Ara, Maria Bermudez, Alejandro Granados (from Spain), Manuel Gutierrrez, Timo Nuñez, Linda Vega and Yaelisa; singer/dancer Roberto Amaral; singers José Cortez, Ana de los Reyes (from Spain) singer/composer Pele de los Reyes (from Spain) of the GRAMMY-nominated group “Navajita Platea”; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason McGuire, Jose Tanaka, Antonio Triana and Ben Woods; and percussionist Joey Heredia.

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

‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ to Shine as Once-in-a-Lifetime Flamenco Gala Event on June 15

Maria Bermudez

Maria Bermudez

The Fountain Theatre presents an all-star line-up of local, national and international flamenco artists to celebrate Forever Flamenco!  founder Deborah Lawlor’s 20-year dedication to producing, nurturing and broadening the art form in Los Angeles. Forever Flamenco! at the Fordunder the artistic direction of internationally renowned flamenco dancer Maria Bermudez, takes place on SaturdayJune 15 at 8:30 pm at the Ford Theatres in Hollywood.

We have saved the BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE for you! Our Fountain VIP patrons! Click here for more info! See details below!

Since 1990, the dancers, musicians and singers ofForever Flamenco! have been delighting Fountain Theatre audiences with the intensity, precision and exhilaration for which flamenco is known. NowForever Flamenco! returns to the outdoor stage at the Ford Theatres with this passionate expression of Spanish culture in a tribute to Lawlor.

Fanny Ara

Fanny Ara

Forever Flamenco! was born out 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.”

Forever Flamenco! at the Ford will be a once-in-a-lifetime gala event gathering some of flamenco’s finest artists together on stage for the first time, including dancers Fanny Ara, Lakshmi BasileMaria BermudezAlejandro Granados (from Spain), Manuel GutierrrezTimo Nuñez,Linda Vega and Yaelisa; singer/dancer Roberto Amaral; singers José CortezAna de los Reyes (from Spain) and Jesus Montoya; singer/composer Pele de los Reyes (from Spain) of the Grammy®-nominated group Navajita Platea; guitarists Adam del MonteJason MaguireAntonio Triana and Ben Woods; and percussionist Joey Heredia. Watch for more surprise artists, as well as a few guests from Bermudez’ flamenco puro company Sonidos Gitanos, which has been presented at the Ford by Lawlor and the Fountain eight times since 1995.


Timo Nunez

Deborah Lawlor

Deborah Lawlor

Deborah Lawlor’s Forever Flamenco! series plays monthly to enthusiastic crowds at the Fountain Theatre. She and the Fountain have presented Bermudez and her Sonidos Gitanos/Gypsy Flamenco Company from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, for eight summer engagements at the Ford – including, in 2010, its new off-shoot, The Chicana Gypsy Project – and in 2007 at the Japan American Theatre. The 2009 Ford season included Forever Flamenco!: LA Olé featuring an all-star cast assembled fromForever Flamenco! at the Fountain. Lawlor began her career as a dancer, choreographer and actor in New York’s “downtown” scene. After living in South India for five years, where she was involved in the initial development of the international township of Auroville, she created two full-length outdoor dance/theater pieces celebrating the community. She spent the next 10 years in Australia and France studying ancient cultures of India and Egypt and translating several books in these fields from French into English. Returning to the U.S. in 1986, she became deeply involved in the intimate theater scene and, in 1990, she and Stephen Sachs co-founded the Fountain Theatre, which is now in its 23rd season of theatrical and dance events. Lawlor is responsible for the Fountain’s extensive dance involvement. The 1995 season included The Women of Guernica, Lawlor’s flamenco-based adaptation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women, which she also directed. She directed two one-act plays by Tennessee Williams and created and directed three full-evening dance-theater pieces for the Fountain:Declarations: Love Letters of the Great RomanticsThe Path of Love, which she also directed in South Indiaand the dance opera, The Song of Songs, with music by Al Carmines. Actors Equity Association honored Lawlor with its Diversity Award, for her dedication to presenting work at the Fountain that is culturally diverse.

Maria Bermudez

Maria Bermudez

Considered to be one of the foremost international flamenco artists in the world today, Bermudez resides in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, the “birthplace” of flamenco. There, she has worked with renowned artists such as Juana del Pipa, Andres Peña, Antonio El Pipa, Alejandro Granados, Navajita Platea, El Capullo and many others. She was honored by the artists of the city for her relentless dedication in exposing the artistry of this region. Bermudez’ outstanding and critically acclaimed performances include the Hollywood Bowl, Ford Amphitheatre, Fountain Theater and the Music Center in Los Angeles; Central Park, Lincoln Center and the Joyce Theater in New York City; the Teatro Palácio das Artes in Brazil; Peña Cernicalos, Los Gallos and Teatro Lope de Vega and Festival de Jerez in Spain; guest appearances with the Santa Cecilia California; and numerous venues throughout the world. Most recently she formed Chicana Gypsy Project which draws on her Mexican-American heritage and her immersion into Adulucian Gypsy culture. Her life and career have inspired the award-winning documentary film, Streets of Flamenco.

Forever Flamenco! at the Ford takes place on Saturday, June 15. 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 June 8 and save $5. Tickets are available at www.FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media 323 GO 1-FORD). 

We are holding 100 of the BEST SEATS — center section, down front, up close and personal  — and are offering them only to you, our private Fountain VIP patrons.  These prime seats are not available to the public. With these 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 only available through the Fountain Theatre!    Order Now!  Or call the Fountain box office (323) 663-1525.