Sunday night ignited another red-hot evening of Forever Flamenco at the Fountain when artistic director Gerardo Morales led a company of world-class artists in our intimate venue in a concert titled ‘Sevilla a Los Angeles.’ Dancers Marina Valiente and Timo Nunez passionately performed to the guitar of Gabriel Osuna and Jesus Montoya‘s soulful singing. Mateo Amper added his artistry on piano. The sold-out concert was produced by Deborah Lawlor and James Bennett.
For more than 25 years, the Fountain Theatre has produced world-class flamenco in its intimate home on Fountain Avenue and every summer in the 1200-seat outdoor Ford Theatre. Don’t miss this summer’s extraordinary Forever Flamenco at the Fordon July 23rd. It’s LA’s hottest flamenco night of the year!
Sunday night proved why Forever Flamenco at the Fountain was recently hailed in Tvolution magazine as “the best ticket in town.” Ole!
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.
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.
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.
This Saturday night, August 9th, the Fountain Theatre honors LA flamenco pioneer Roberto Amaral at ourForever Flamenco at the Fordgala 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 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 Ponce, Mizuho Sato, Yaelisa, Alexandra & Ryan Zermeño; singers Antonio de Jerez and Jesus Montoya; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason McGuire“El Rubio,” José Tanaka and Antonio Triana; and percussionist Joey Heredia.
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 Amaral. Forever Flamencoat 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 Theatresin 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!”
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 the Ford will be a once-in-a-lifetime gala event gathering some of flamenco’s finest artists together on stage, including dancers Fanny Ara, Manuel Gutierrrez, Pamela Lourant, Timo Nuñez, Mizuho Sato, Yaelisa andRyan Zermeno; singers Antonio de Jerez and Jesus Montoya; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason 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 (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. 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.
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.
“Once a month at the Fountain Theatre, Deborah Lawlor presents Forever Flamenco, an assemblage of the greatest flamenco artists anywhere.” – Stage and Cinema
With only 80 seats in four rows, the Fountain Theatre, named “the foremost venue of flamenco in Los Angeles” by the LA Weekly, is the perfect place to view flamenco. Each show features a roster of world-class dancers, singers and musicians drawn from the rich pool of Flamenco artists in Southern California, with additional guest artists brought from San Francisco, Albuquerque and Spain.
This month artistic director/dancer Timo Nuñez will be joined by dancers Clara Rodriguez and Briseyda Zarate; singer Jesus Montoya; guitarist Gabriel Osuna; and percussionist Joey Heredia.
Passionate. Exhilarating. World class flamenco in an intimate setting.
Forever FlamencoSunday, Nov 10 8pm (323) 663-1525MORE
Hello everyone, this is Lowes Lee Moore III one last time.
As you know The Los Angeles County Arts Commission gave me a 10-week Internship with the Fountain Theatre as the Development Intern. YAAAAY!!! I am very sad to say that today marks the end of the internship. It is extremely upsetting to have to leave such a loving family of beautiful theater-making individuals. Every day they have welcomed me with warm smiles, hugs, and valuable lessons. I am truly blessed to have been a member of the Fountain Theatre Family.
I thought it would be funny to take some of my journal entries from my first two weeks on the job so you can see for yourselves how great my summer has been.
photo by Lowes
[6/4/2013] Day 1: Today I met Stephen, Deborah, Scott and Diana. They showed me to my desk, which had a laptop, office supplies, and a phone. The scariest part of the day was the phone rang 3x. Of course I didn’t answer. What am I suppose to say? It’s my first day. Give me a break. Stephen gave me a task to complete over the next few days to get me started. I took that as a challenge. I got to meet Denise Blasor, one of the new actors in the Fountain Theatre play Heart Song written by the very own Stephen Sachs himself. She did a KPFK radio interview which was pretty cool because I got to sit in the room while it happened. They do a lot Flamenco-y things in this place. I probably should look up Flamenco sometime between today and tomorrow. It’s definitely a thing here.
[6/7/2013] Day 4: Today there was a lot of traffic. Being from New York I guess I’ll never understand LA traffic shenanigans. The second I got to the office I was put in charge of 4 tasks! They waste no time here and are going to use every bit of me they can. Well, lucky for them that is why I am here. The most daunting task of all was doing computer research and e-mailing for artist who will donate over 100 CD’s for Forever Flamenco! At the Ford. Apparently, this event is going to be big and I need to get with the program fast. After archiving for about 15 minutes with Deb I had to take a break. There is some much history here at the Fountain. Every time I look at the information that needs to be archived I get exhausted/flustered/overwhelmed/distracted. But hey, who’s complaining really. Deb told me to get rid of items that had too many extra copies but could not watch me and would not let me throw anything away without saying “Let me see that…let me see the copies.” This was going to be a long project I could tell.
photo by Lowes
We decided to call it a day and I joined Deb in some stretching and dancing to cool off. She demanded I research Flamenco dancers who’ve been through the Fountain Theatre like Timo Nunez, Maria Bermudez, and Mizuho Sato to name a few. She, politely, threatened me saying, “you will not be allowed to stay here very long if you don’t come see my Flamenco show” in her most seriously voice but with her most vibrant and loving smile. I am pretty sure Deb was an amazing dancer back in the day. She has moves. That has been confirmed.
[6/13/2013] Day 8: Today was my day of funny events. This morning I laughed with Stephen about how hectic my no car situation is. It felt good to just talk about it. We hung out and ate some hotdogs, which he says is one of our normal Fountain lunch meals. Who knew I would like hotdogs so much. After, I was sitting at my desk when Scott & Diana were working on the phones in the other room but forgot to tell me. Diana fussed me out for answering the phone. “Are you serious? We are checking the phones? Come on Lowes?” which is the pretty censored version haha. I was really embarrassed because Diana is kind of scary. Diana came right over and glared at me for 2 minutes. Then she smiled & chuckled and said “hey Lowes, next time read my mind…that was a joke!!!” Boy, did I need some time to process that one. Today was one of the first days I bonded with James (the head box office person but he is MANAGER now) as I refer to him on the phone. He is really funny and right around the corner from my desk. Sooner or later he’ll get annoyed with my 1,000 questions. Today I definitely had a lot but he did not seem to mind at all. We had our first staff meeting before the show at the Ford. I failed for the first time on the job. I could not find anyone to donate the CD’s that we asked for.
Lowes and dancer Timo Nunez backstage at Forever Flamenco at the Ford
[6/14/2013] Day 9: Just kidding I cannot believe how great today was. After I got home last night. I got an e-mail from a company willing to donate 100 CDs. Stephen and the rest of the FT family were so proud. Apparently, I’m a “boss.” If you do not know what that means…well it means I’M THE MAN!!! Yup and to top it off I surprised Stephen with his favorite Chicken Avocado burrito from El Pollo Loco. Yes it was a pretty great day. As if the day couldn’t get any better, Simon tells me that I get to help him on the producing side of theatre. “This is the fun part of the internship” he says. I get to help with a show he is directing in September called “The Normal Heart.” I am so excited to get started on that project. Simon seems like a very fun person to work with. He gets so intense and is so knowledgeable I can’t help but be amazed majority of the time.
I can’t even begin to process all of the great things that have happened to me this summer. I have learned many new tools and have met so many great people. I got to spend a summer in the office of a Non-Profit Organization who does everything possible to bring quality work to a diverse Los Angeles Community. I finally learned what Flamenco is and have seen some of the best in Los Angeles. I’ve seen Heart Song and had the privilege of working under the writer for my entire stay at the Fountain Theatre. I did research on and helped advertise one of the greatest American Play’s, the The Normal Heart, revival in Los Angeles after 15+ years.
Here are some other areas I helped in while at the Fountain Theatre:
Artist Relations*Box Office Work*Document Managing/Organizing*Entering Transfers & Journal Entries into QuickBooks*Helping Fundraise/Donation*Archiving*General Office Work*Casting Monitor*Assistant Handyman*Running Errands*Grant Research/Preparation*Blogging*
Lowes and box office dude James Bennett
I’ve found a family here at the Fountain Theatre. Everyday forward I will be grateful for all of the wisdom and knowledge this experience has given me. Even though I am very sad to leave and go back to school. I happy I have found another home in East Hollywood at the intersection of Fountain and Normandie. When I walked out of the office after my first day I felt something deep down. There is something special here at the Fountain. It must be in the water. And as I walk out of the office today I know I’ll feel it again. Love.
This upcoming school year I will be diving into intense coursework in classes such as Econometrics, Macro-economics, Music of Western Culture, & Community Literacy. I also will be the section leader for our Glee Club for the second year in a row. Our Glee Club is traveling to Spain & Portugal on tour in January. I will be serving on the executive board, as treasurer of our schools largest club on campus called Dance Production. I will be a Tour Guide for my second year and a music scholarship student for my third year. Lastly, from August 24th to October 12th I am in the production of Hairspray The Broadway Musical at the Glendale Centre Theatre. This summer has opened up doors for me to work in many different aspects of the arts.
I want to give a special thank you to the Los Angeles Arts Commission for allowing me this opportunity to gain more experience in the work place. Thank you Fountain Family: Stephen, Deborah, Simon, Scott, Diana, James, Barbara and everyone else who played such integral parts in making this one of the best summer experiences yet.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cinemahailed 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.
Yesterday, the best thing happened to me. I booked tickets with one of my good friends to watch Heart Song. After a normal 10am-5pm work day I found my way back to the Fountain to see the show and to also help out whenever needed. I escorted people to their seats while my friend passed out programs. I was not sure what to expect from the play. The only other “flamenco” art I had ever experience was a video Deborah showed meof Timo Nunezon So You Think You Can Dance which was pretty amazing I might say.
After taking my seat in the front row, the show began. From the very first scene my jaw could not get off of the floor. I was so amazed. Except for the one third of the show I spent laughing way too hard. The other audience members probably thought I was insane.
Heart Song is an amazing show about one woman’s life changing transformation. She is basically bribed and dragged into the flamenco class where she finds self-worth, confidence, family, and strength. The show & cast were wonderful, amazing, superb…Okay you get the point. GO SEE IT!
“Heart Song” at the Fountain Theatre
It was Denise Blasor’s first show (in the role of Katarina) and might I say she looked as if she had been doing this role for years. I felt particularly special because Denise and I got to hang out for a bit on my first day at the Fountain Theatre. Basically best friends.
I am so lucky to be an intern at the Fountain Theatre. If you have not seen Heart Song yet….I suggest you change that. Don’t miss out.
Last but definitely not least:
Tomorrow isForever Flamenco at the Ford. There has been so much anticipation around this evening and it is finally HERE. The brochure says it best “A stellar evening of world-class artists together for the first time to celebrate 20 years of Forever Flamenco in Los Angeles and pay tribute to founder Deborah Lawlor.” If you are attending you definitely in for a treat and you know how much everyone loves treats. 🙂