Nowhere can you find grace more infused with power, not the sorrow of the human condition expressed with more sublime defiance than in the music and dance of flamenco. The Fountain Theatre, under the loving hand of Deborah Lawlor, has been the California conduit for this century’s oldest art form for nearly two decades. The “Forever Flamenco” series is a standard series at the Fountain, and the talent you can see there is world class.
Guitarist Gabriel Osuna plays with a cycling intensity that swells ever upwards, and singer Antonio de Jerez’s voice fills the venue at the Fountain until one has a sense of what it must feel like to be at the center of an atom smasher.
When all the musicians join on percussion – Mateo Amper on piano, Gerardo Morales and Angelo Salazar, the evening takes on the mood of a “juerga”, a Flamenco style “jam session”. Or perhaps I would be more correct to describe it as a “tablaos”; performance cafes one found throughout Spain during the 60’s each boasting their own company. It is certain however, that Deborah Lawlor and partner Steven Sachs have provided L.A. with a world class “Peña flamenco”, a gathering place for Flamenco artists.
An amazing aspect of Flamenco is its capacity, perhaps determination, to draw music from any source; a stomp, a handclap, a wooden crate. Perhaps as a reminder to us that music is everywhere.
Dancers Clara Rodriguez and Briseyda Zarate each have their moment to shine and shine they do on par with a supernova. Zarate’s performance expands in power as inexorably as Ravel’s Boléro, until it seems, like Antaeus, she is taking her strength from her mother earth. Rodriguez nearly sucks the air from the room with the dynamism of her dance which fills the room with a raw sensuality neither leather nor lace. But it is dancer Mizuho Sato performing an Alégría, one of the most structurally challenging forms of flamenco, who blows the roof off the theatre and at least twenty other buildings in close proximity.
To see these performers in such an intimate environment as the Fountain is the rarest of treats and for both connoisseur and novice alike, “Forever Flamenco” offers the opportunity to luxuriate in the incendiary passions of flamenco.