The “Forever Flamenco!” series, hosted by the Fountain Theatre under the solid stewardship of Deborah Lawlor, always blows me away by the level of talent involved, by the consistent raising of the bar which it engages in, and by the cross section of Flamenco styles and traditions they present to the audience.
The February 16th show is a perfect example.
A playfulness opened the evening, with an instrumental by guitarist Gabriel Osuna, percussionist Gerardo Morales and cantador (singer) José Cortes.
This is followed by Manuel Gutierrez, who began dancing Flamenco at the age of four and was winning Flamenco dance competitions by eight. Gutierrez captures the essence of “coraje” or spontaneity. He dances as if in defiance of a world seeking to dwarf him, a world which may overshadow the man, but never his passion.
All the dancers – Fanny Ara, Elena Osuna and Gutierrez – are forces of nature on stage. If only the DWP could devise a way of hooking into Gutierrez’s performance as a power source they could light the Pacific Northwest up like Fremont Street in Las Vegas until the close of the century.
A “rumba” comes next, a song from Cuba which features Mathew Amper on the keyboard, who pours forth a melody that sounds as if the individual notes had been wrapped in silk before release.
The evening offers dancer Elena Osuna in a performance possessed by “desgarro” a wildness that appears to stalk the stage itself.
A standard feature of these performances is the “Cante Pa’atras”, literally “singing from behind”. Iin this, dancer Gutierrez and singer José Cortes share the stage, standing side by side, like two shades of a single obsession. They perform a cante jondo or “deep song”, the quintessence of Flamenco, expressing both the anguish and despair found in life, yet sung with defiance – a defiance found in the living.
A term you’ll find useful if attending these evenings is “spree”. It describes when a group of Flamenco performers gather and feel the joy of their art and their fellow artists; a joy that both challenges and encourages them to the upmost of their craft.
Then be prepared for magic.
Talent tiers talent and the pure ecstasy they experience on stage flows out and over the audience allowing us to taste of that sweet intoxicant they share.
I’ve said it before, but its damn well worth repeating: The Forever Flamenco! series at the Fountain Theatre ranks as one of the best tickets in L.A.
The shows of “Forever Flamenco!” are scheduled for one Sunday every month. To learn which Sunday that might be, and to find information regarding the series and the theatre, head to: www.FountainTheatre.com
A word of caution, you may find it highly addictive.