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BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

Starring a most accomplished set of Flamenco dancers, singers and musicians. Each has their own style, rhythms, history and persona. I did not find out until later that these particular performers had never worked as a group together; they all came together for this one special evening to perform Forever Flamenco, May 26, 2019, at The Fountain Theatre.

These are some of the most world-renown Flamenco artists performing today. We are talking authentic carriers of the Art of Flamenco, dedicated and absorbed by their culture and this Art. All stem from an early background of exposure to Flamenco in many forms. They are fascinating, exciting, exact, mesmerizing, intense, passionate, convicted and ignited during the performance. It was a visual treat to be sitting "ringside" and witnessing the thrill of being immersed in the performance.

The incredible artists are Reyes Barrios, who is the Director and Lead Dancer; Arleen Hurtado, a stunning native Californian with international recognition; Briseyda Zarate, who lives and breathes/dances Flamenco; Juan de Dios Cruz Cabezuelo, a unique talent combination of Flamenco forms that is essential to the mix of this performance; and the two remarkable Flamenco guitarists, Antonio Triana, son of legendary Spanish dancer and choreographer Antonio Triana I, and Ben Woods, an innovative and popular Rock/Metal/Surf/Flamenco arranger and performer who shines throughout.

Together they performed beautiful routines, vocally, musically and choreographically, always giving preference to the established rhythms but then embellishing them with a personal improvised touch. Such is the nature of Flamenco. It is a range of emotions strung together by passionate rhythm that speaks to the soul. The lyrics of the songs, deeply emanated through the body, while pounding out the rhythm of what an embroiled heartbeat can feel like.

Each dancer performs her own solo; they also dance together as a trio. Each solo is extremely unique in style, yet when dancing as a trio it is clean and precisely in sync. The Flamenco guitarists are featured with and without the women dancing, and are clearly masters of their craft and exciting to listen to. BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

"Alegrias" is performed by Arleen Hurtado, (pictured above) accompanied by the lovely, sweet melodic sounds of Ben Woods that begin at the top. As the music continues, she slowly rises and with flowing, fluid movements, moves to center stage and poses, proudly and with purpose. She covers the entire stage using her technically impressive rhythms, which she sometimes begins first, letting the guitarists come in on her lead, to accentuate the fervor she creates.

Emphasizing emotions, they stomp rapidly with one foot in a specific rhythm, always in a specific rhythm that intensifies, hand flicks and arm movements, twists, arches of elbows and backs, the proud stance and attitude evoked, the intricacy of the rhythm itself, the swiftness of it all, followed by meaningful pauses, emphasizing each word or musical sound with such veracity, captivating the viewer.

BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain TheatreThe second act began with Antonio Triana playing powerful broken chords as Arleen Hurtado wields castanets in a red silk Flamenco dress, performing "Rumba" with remarkable intricacy and accuracy in rhythm while moving sensually toward guitarist Ben Woods, making eye contact, molding it into a flirtatious confrontation, an intoxicating piece, using Flamenco as the muse.

Briseyda Zarate is the most compelling Flamenco artist on stage. BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

Her entire being captures the essence of Flamenco, and you can tell by the way she performs that she has lived every minute of it, with fierce gusto, be it heavy or joyous! The preciseness of her natural rhythm, starting on an "uh-oo-and-uh" pick-up beat, is heartfelt. "Tientos" is done with such essential immediacy and intensity that you feel you are living through her emotions with her. It is that raw. True Artistry.

Yet another immense talent, Reyes Barrios, who assembled the evening's program, not only sings with abandon and dances Flamenco like no one else, she tempers her performance so illustriously it gives you chills. BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

The entangled emotions that are displayed in "Solea" are so from within, that the expressive snap of a finger to a beat, the placement and timing of a foot movement, the then resolving stomp that is from deep within, coming only when the performer feels it, which becomes a domino effect, and is absorbed by all in attendance.

BWW Review: FOREVER FABULOUS FLAMENCO at The Fountain Theatre

Juan de Dios, with such a heavenly name, is heavenly on stage and off. Watching him on stage was highly entertaining, and in between the dance routines, he continually pulled focus one way or another. During the last number, "Fin de Fiesta," or the Grand Finale, he got out on the floor to perform some Flamenco rhythms with panache and style. His vocals are also very rooted in traditional Flamenco, along with his trained classical background, which is a step-by-step process, begun during, not before the performance. A lot of Flamenco music begins not with lyrics, but with a chant-like sound, a lament, which serves to warm up the vocal chords and open the diaphragm, such as tuning an instrument, and sets the tone for what is to follow. He explained this to me after the show, and was charming to speak with.

That they can come from far and near to assemble, run through the numbers maybe once, earlier in the day, and perform with such excellence is also no small feat. The lighting was spot on, and the intimacy in the theatre was very impactful indeed.

I dare you not to feel involved when you see these artists perform! Forever Flamenco is in it's 14h year, bringing Flamenco performances to the Fountain Theatre at the Direction of Deborah Culver, the Producing Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre. The theatre is known for it's culturally diverse productions and has been honored by receiving the Actor's Equity Association's Diversity Award, and many other accolades for excellence in Theatre.

Forever Flamenco is an ongoing presentation every last Sunday of each month. The performers vary, but with the reputation well established to bring you the most exciting and accomplished flamenco artists, you can't go wrong.

Forever Flamenco!

Photos Courtesy of Bruce Bisenz, Ed Krieger, and the Fountain Theatre.

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From This Author Valerie-Jean Miller