September 1, 2014

Rhythmix Cultural Center ~ Café Flamenco – Fin de Verano (Last night when I was in Spain . . .)

. . . I truly felt as if Jan Watten and I had been transported to Barcelona when we attended the Café Flamenco – Fin de Verano held at the Rhythmix Cultural Center!! To be honest, I was sorely tempted to put this entry in the Barcelona Journals section (see link below) but decided I had to honor veracity above fantasy. 

For starters, there was a stupendous paella prepared by Marcos Quezada of Patatas Spanish Tortillas, that knocked my socks off.

photos by Styrous®

the program

What we saw was an exciting presentation by the dance company, Caminos Flamencos, which was founded by Emmy Award-winning dancer and choreographer Yaelisa. Dancers Devon LaRussa, Bianca Rodriguez, Yukie Takahashi and Stephanie Narvarez wowed the audience with pyrotechnic performances that brought it to its feet.

Devon LaRussa, Yukie Takahashi 
Bianca Rodriguez & Stephanie Narvarez
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Accompanying the dancers was Antonio Triana on guitar and gypsy tradition vocalist, Jose Cortés; both gave extraordinary performances. I had seen Cortés in performance last year with the Theatre Flamenco (link below) and it was a pleasure to hear him sing again.

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Antonio Triana is the son of artists Antonio Triana and Rita Vega. He first appeared at the age of 12 in a concert with Placido Domingo and has performed as a soloist at the Getty Museum, the Luckman Theatre, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles and the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. He has accompanied Jose Greco I, Jose Greco II, Antonio Granjero, La Tania, Roberto Amaral, Maria Bemudez, Yaelisa, Juan Talavera, La Tati, Jesus Montoya and Antonio De Jerez.

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José Cortés Fernández, was born in southern France in 1974. His was an important gypsy family from Almería. At the age of 10, he began his career in Jerez de la Frontera where he won the “premio del joven aficionado del cante flamenco,” accompanied on guitar by the great “El Terremoto”.

Cortés was immersed in the world of flamenco with legendary artists such as Pansequito, Camarón de la Isla, Moraito Chico and Tomatito. He has shared the stage with artists including Belen Lopez, Alfonso Losa, Sergio Arranda, Manuel de la Malena, Juan Ogalla, Javier Serrano, Joselito Vega, María del Mar Moreno, Antonio de la Malena, Mara Martínez, Andrés Peña, Pilar Ortega, Antonio “El Titi”, Juan Carmona, Isabel Gazquez and Manuel Gutierrez. In 2010, he moved to the United States and now works with artists Jason McGuire, Ricardo Diaz (and on his record Traversura), Yaelisa “Camino Flamencos”, Carola ZertucheTheatre Flamenco of San Francisco,” Fanny Ara, Melissa Cruz, Cristina Hall, Jesus Muñoz, Jesus Montoya, Antonio de Jerez and Pedro Cortés.

the dancers

Stephanie Narvarez from Boston, Massachusetts, made her debut dancing flamenco at the age of eight under the tutelage of her first teachers Clara y Ramon de Los Reyes. She continued her studies with Omayra Amaya and performed in her student company as well as with the family based group El Arte Flamenco where her father would accompany her on the guitar. Since graduating from NYU, Narvarez has performed with various companies across the nation such as Carlota Santana's Flamenco Vivo in New York City, Theatre Flamenco in San Francisco, the Juan Siddi Flamenco in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and toured nationally. She continues studying and performing in Seville, Spain. She is based in San Francisco.

Yukie Takahashi was born in Tokyo, Japan. She began dancing flamenco in 1999 and performing with the Virginia Iglesias flamenco Dance Company in 2002. She learned the foundation of flamenco under Diana Alejandre and began performing as a member of Virginia Iglesias' flamenco company Alma Flamenca in 2003. She studied in Spain with Rafaela Carrasco, Mercedes Ruiz, Isabel Bayon and Javier Latorre. Takahashi has studied with leading local artists Yaelisa and La Tania. She performs regularly around the Bay Area as a member of Caminos Flamencos and a local cuadro group, Matiz Flamenco.

Devon LaRussa has been dancing since the age of two and began her career with the Oakland Ballet from 1995 - 2006.  She has also been a member of Moving Arts Dance, Black Diamond Ballet, Menlowe Ballet, and performed as the flamenco soloist in Festival Opera's "La Tragedie de Carmen".  LaRussa was recently a featured soloist in "La Traviata" with the San Francisco Opera.  She has been a freelance flamenco dancer since 2005, performing with many distinguished artists and is currently studying and performing with Yaelisa and Caminos Flamencos.

about the artistic director - Yaelisa

During the last twelve years, Yaelisa has spent extensive periods of time living and performing in Spain, presenting her choreography there and in the U.S. Her choreographies have been commissoned by several modern dance companies, including John Malashock & Company, Rose Polsky and Collage Dance Theatre. In 1995 she was one of 11 choreographers in Spain invited to present a piece at the prestigious Certamen de Coreografia in Madrid, and the only American choreographer chosen among them. In 1996 she returned to the U.S. where she continues to choreograph, develop and train dancers for her company. Creating innovative theatrical presentations has established her as a choreographer of merit; she is the recipient of an Emmy Award for Choreography in 1993 for the PBS program, "Desde Cadiz a Sevilla," and a Choreography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1996.

The mission of Caminos Flamencos is to create and present contemporary, traditional and theatrical dance programs showcasing artists from Spain and the U.S.,that reflect the changing face of flamenco in the 21st century. Their programs seek to preserve the legacy of Spain's rich artistic heritage, and bring them to people of all backgrounds, enriching the lives of people with Spanish and Hispanic ancestry, and the community at large.

The Rhythmix venue has become a hotbed of first-class cultural presentations and it is amazing that it has been kept such a little-known gem of the East Bay. Hopefully, that will change.

Caminos Flamencos

Rhythmix Cultural Center
2513 Blanding Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501 

1075 Spruce St.
Berkeley, CA

Barcelona, España Journals
Theatre Flamenco ~ Con Nombre y Apellido 
Last night at the Rhythmix ~ Wine, Women & Song
Rhythmix ~ Wine, Women & Song: the performances


Styrous® ~ Monday, September 1, 2014

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