Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #7

The seventh and final artist announced for FFI 31 is the legendary Isabel Bayon!

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"Born in Seville in 1969, Isabel Bayón first took dance lessons at the Matilde Coral school at the age of five. After studying at the Dance Conservatories in Seville and Cordoba she successfully completed her Diploma in Spanish Dance at the age of sixteen. During her career she has performed at numerous national and international festivals and worked with many important figures from the world of flamenco, including, Antonio Mairena, Chano Lobato, Mario Maya, El Pele, Israel Galván and Miguel Poveda. Since she formed her own company in 2001 she has created a series of shows, including, “Del Alma”;”La Mujer y El Pelele”;”La Puerta Abierta”(winner of the Giraldillo Prize for best show);”Tórtola Valencia” (Giraldillo Prize for “magical moment”); “En la Horma de sus Zapatos” (Giraldillo Prize for dance) and “Caprichos del Tiempo” (Critics Prize at the Jerez Festival 2013)."

"Dju Dju directed by Israel Galván, whose premier was in the Bienal de Flamenco of Seville 2016, and currently this show is on tour. She is much in demand as a choreographer for the Spanish National Ballet, directed by Aída Gómez, and the Andalusian Dance Company, directed by Juan Antonio Ruiz, amongst others. Distinctions among others have awarded her in 2011 the ” Special Distinction ” of her professional career by the Provincial Delegation of Seville; in 2013 she received the National Dance Award ; in 2014 received the Clavel Press Award by the Press Association of Seville; and Fuera de Serie Award 2014 by Expansion Magazine, El Mundo. She currently combines her artistic activities with her role as a teacher at the María de Ávila Higher Dance Conservatory in Madrid." (Bio source: http://www.flamencofestival.org/en/artistas/espanol-isabel-bayon/) 

Bayon is presenting the world premiere of Dju Dju at the ABQ Festival. I have been following this show on social media for a while and was sure I would need to travel to Europe to see it, so I was psyched to get this announcement! So much happens in this show - she even twerks!!

Here is the synopsis of the show:

An Israel Galván creation for Isabel Bayón

"Since Gypsies appeared in european culture, the unearthly has followed. Fortune telling, for example, has been one of their most immediate economical resources. They, the Gypsies, culturally did not have a notion of the future, they decided to explore commercially what was a energy resource of european and christian civilization. So, as that moment, magic and Gypsy were born together. Different types of witchcraft, that christianity would reject, were the type of thing that propelled Gypsy culture outside the city walls. It is in Transilvania where that mythology becomes universal. Gypsies appear continuously in novels of the XIX century, in hundreds of stories based on the original Dracula, or in that great scene from Frankenstein where the monster shares a fire with the snub people in the cold of the night without noticing his horrible looks. Before dju-dju or voodoo-that were direct descendants of the colonial exploitation in Central-Africa or the Caribbean - before these practices embodied fear of the unknown, Gypsies embodied that curse. 

Needless to say, Gypsies took those fears to Flamenco. Vicente Escudero misunderstood André Levinson´s good words regarding the danceuses de terroir ( Dancers from their Country) as a praise for some uncertain “horrific dancers”. It is curious that this fact goes somewhat unnoticed, even when we have clear examples in our artistic history like “El Amor Brujo”- ghosts, the terror dance,the spectre- by Manuel Falla who wrote it for Pastora Imperio, or “Superstición Andaluza” a ground-breaking film in the fantasy genre made by Segundo de Chomón in 1912. Fears, superstitions, jinxes tried to be exorcised by Federico García Lorca that theorized about el duende, but without escaping that magical nature- of celtic origin, Washington Irving, for example, mixed nordic arabic mythology in his famous and universal “Cuentos de la Alhambra”. El duende are also the elves. 

And the mengue, some sort of little magical gypsy devil, lived in all the flamenco lyrics from the end of the century. In reality, the authentication campaigns of Flamenco, the positive lectures of the intellectuals, the civilizing complex facing the troubling of the underground, has left us a hygienic vision of what still is a constituting element in the process of making Flamenco. 

And in that swampy world is where Isabel Bayón and Israel Galván are going to get lost. Troubling feelings, magic, superstition, jinxes, fixations, words that mustn’t be said, amulets, magical rituals and everyday rituals. That which you cannot touch with your hands. Yes, the venture does not seem easy, to make visible that which is not. 

Karl Marx who wrote “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof" suggested a magical image to understand capital gains: furniture, that the carpenter had built with effort, started to dance. Marx also gave Gypsies- oh! and Spaniards! - a negative role in matters of cultural production. He situated them in a sinister side, in a depraved reverse of our cultural imaginary. The fact is that Flamenco, gypsies and snub people already knew of this magic that inhabited our material economy much earlier that Marx himself. It is not strange that voodoo is the only formula that many activists resort to fight against capitalism. 

What I mean to say in this interlude regarding materialism is that “Dju-Dju” does not talk about remote or esoteric things. Magic is very much present in our lives, it fundaments our lives beyond our religious beliefs or scientific explanations. As Wittgenstein said, it is a mistake to think that magic corresponds to a primitive state of humanity when in every cognitive process, even in math or cybernetics, it still has a principal function. 

So we are actually trying to know why we tighten our stomachs when we have a bad feeling, why we swear impetuously when faced with a challenge, why we carry our pockets filled with little coins and stones as if our luck depended on them. Everything we do daily without thinking about it and we stop in fear when facing it. The electricity that runs through our body when we are startled. Bad thoughts. Hexes. Bad Luck (”Mal fario”). Luck (“La bají”). Bad omen (“El mal bajío”). Fear. Apprehension. Disgust. Dju-dju." Pedro G. Romero



Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #6

The sixth artist announced for FFI 31 is Pedro Córdoba featuring Javier Latorre & Gema Moneo (Karime Amaya was originally scheduled but was soon after replaced by Gema; as Karime is a star dancer for the Tablao El Cordobes in Barcelona, my guess is she could not take the full time away to go to the ABQ festival at the beginning of the summer tourist season in Barcelona!).

My 2016 ABQ Flamenco Journeyers will remember Pedro as he did a main stage show, but an even better tablao show! We also heard that he was a great teacher.

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Pedro was born in Cordoba and here is his bio from La Barraca

Pedro Cordoba started his dance training as a child, taking ballet, classical Spanish dance and flamenco classes. His flamenco training was under the guidance of Manolete, Eva La Yerbabuena, Antonio Canales, Javier Latorre and Javier Baron, among others.
Even though he is still quite young he can already present an impressive record of performances. This is a small selection from his resume:
- In ’97 he worked with Enrique Morente for the concert series “Omega”. The choreography was realized by Javier Latorre.
- In ’98 he became a member of the Compañia Andaluza de Danza under the guidance of Jose Antonio. He danced in numerous performances such as Latido Flamenco and Cosas de Payos, choreographies by respectively Manolete and Javier Latorre.
- In 2000 he joined the company of Eva La Yerbabuena. Their first show together was in Granada, in the performance “Eva”.
At the Sevillian Biennial of that same year, he danced with the companies of Eva La Yerbabuena and Javier Baron in respectively “5 Mujeres 5” and “Baile de hierro baile de bronce”.
- In 2004 he did guest performances at concerts of Duquende, Chicuelo en Miguel Poveda.
He also danced in “Triana” by Javier Latorre. In 2004 still, he shared the stage with Paco de Lucia, Esperanza Fernandez and Israel Galvan at the Festival of Argèles-sur-Mer in France.
In 2006 he established his own cuadro and was invited to perform at the Sevillian Biennial and at the Corral del Carbon in Granada.
Up until today he also does quite a few guest performances with the company of Vicente Amigo.
Pedro Cordoba is a renowned performer, the favourite dancer of many artists and non-artists.
His style is impressive because of its force and technical control. And yet Pedro Cordoba is first and for all a remarkably expressive and versatile flamenco dancer.

Javier Antonio García Expósito born in 1963 and better known as Javier Latorre is a Flamenco dancer most renowned for his choreographic career. He began dance training at just 4 years old, specializing mainly in Spanish classical dance, and at age 16 he joined the Spanish National Ballet, created by Antonio Gades. He started as a soloist and went on to become a lead dancer a couple of years later while the company was under the direction of Antonio El Bailarín.

A few years later in 1988, feeling the need to express his own creativity, he created Ziryab Danza – a dance company in which he would play the roles of director, choreographer and lead dancer. A year later he crushed the competition at the Concurso Nacional del Arte Flamenco, winning three national prizes for Alegrías, Bulerías and as overall Best Dancer.

He would spend the next decade working in collaboration, both as dancer and choreographer for leading Flamenco artists including Vicente Amgio, Enrique Morente, Antonio Canales & Eva la Yerbabuena. Realizing his true vocation he retired from the stage in 2003 to dedicate himself completely to choreography and teaching. In 2006 he signed a contract with the Instituto Municipal de Artes Escéncias de Códoba and opened the Centro de Danza Javier Latorre, his dance company would also become the resident company in the Gran Teatro de Códoba. He continues to teach and choreograph, working with major names within the Flamenco world, most famously for his work on Carlos Saura's 2010 film Flamenco, Flamenco, and is perhaps the most respected Flamenco choreographer alive today.

Javier is a fixture at the annual Festival de Jerez, and when you see him on opening night of the Festival in the lobby of the Teatro Villamarta, you know the Festival de Jerez has begun!

Javier Latorre

Javier Latorre

Gema Moneo is from the legendary Moneo clan of Gypsy flamenco singers and guitarists in Jerez de la Frontera. Niece of the famed singer El Torta, she grew up in the middle of an ongoing flamenco fiesta with constant singing and dancing at home and at family gatherings. She started studying dance with cousin Manuela Carpio, and soon began to work in the peñas and tablaos of Jerez. At the age of 18 she joined Farruquito’s company and has appeared with him all over Spain and at festivals including the 2010 Bienal de Flamenco in Sevilla. Last year Gema debuted in the US with the all-star ensemble led by Diego del Morao, Fiesta Jerez at Festival Flamenco Gitano USA 2012 with shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York CIty. A featured performer at venues such as the prestigious El Cordobés in Barcelona and Madrid’s Las Carboneras, Gema continues to perform regularly with dancers such as  Farruquito and El Choro, guitarist Diego del Morao and many more.

My 2016 Flamenco Journeyers will remember Gema from El Choro's main stage show Aviso: Bayles de Jitanos that year, and we are still talking about the Zambra number she danced in that show, and of course she crushed it at the tablao! Gema was a guest artist with Antonio Canales and El Farru in the Gala Flamenca La Chana, in which the great La Chana also performed, in February at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre presented by the Flamenco Festival London.

Gema Moneo's Zambra number from  Aviso: Bayles de Jitanos

Gema Moneo's Zambra number from Aviso: Bayles de Jitanos

Pedro is presenting the world premiere of his show Otro Genios at the ABQ festival, and here is his description of the show:

"I still can not describe in words what I felt as a child when I heard Camarón de la Isla sing titiritando de frío, or the new doors that Morente opened in my mind with Omega, or as an adult, how my tears fell when Paco de Lucía passed ...

These memories and experiences have led me to create this small tribute to those Otros Genios (Other Geniuses) that have fed and influenced  my artistic growth and expression directly and indirectly throughout my entire artistic career.

Javier Latorre, Tío Borrico, Chocolate, Ray Heredia, Fernando de la Morena, Vicente Amigo and Peret compose seven of the eight scenes of the show. The eighth  is reserved for a friend who will take the stage with us, without even knowing it ... will he or she be one of those "Other geniuses" for the generations of flamenco to come?"

Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #5

The fifth artist announced for FFI 31 is Sara Calero. She will perform a special late night show at 10:00 pm on Tuesday, June 12 at the Experimental Theatre ("the X") on the UNM campus.

Notes: This show is not included in the ticket package and must be purchased as an add-on, and yours truly is going as I have never seen her perform and this is also a new venue for the ABQ Festival. This show also follows the Alfonso Losa show CON-SEQUENCIA that starts at 8 pm at the Rodey Theatre, also on the UNM campus. Probably will not be much time between the two shows so remember to bring some snacks in your bag if you're going to both shows!

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Calero was born in Madrid in 1983 and she completed her dance studies with honors at the Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Fortea under the direction of Alicia de la Corte, and she studied flamenco at Amor de Dios, one of the most famous flamenco schools in Madrid. The maestro Granero took her to a Gala of Stars at the Teatro Villamarta in Jerez where she had the opportunity to share the stage with Lola Greco, María Pagés, Maribel Gallardo and Beatriz Martín. Afterward she spent eight months in Sevilla at the Escuela de la Compañía Andaluza de Danza and then she returned to Madrid as a “listener “with María Pagés and Antonio Márquez. She remarks that in many companies it starts like this, you start going to the rehearsals, you learn the shows and when the company has a space open up, as it happened in the company of Antonio Márquez, you become part of the company, and this was how she landed her first job in a professional company.

Although I have never seen her perform, from what I have read and watched online, she will have elements of Rocio Molina (ABQ 2016) and Rosario Toledo (ABQ 2017) and it will be more like flamenco performance art! Her show, Petisa Loca, will be making its US premier at this year's festival after premiering at the 2018 Festival de Jerez, and here is its synopsis:

"In Petisa Loca, Sara Calero and Gema Caballero have taken a new step in their personal exploration of the language of Spanish dance and flamenco. Artists find essences, emotions, paths in a universal experience: that of women who leave a world of obligations imposed by their origin to work their own path of freedom. A whole emotional and cultural arc takes place on the scene that transports us from the rigors and violence of the traditional environment to the transformation experienced in the search for individual aspirations. For this, they feed on the meeting of peninsular music with the American ones, today artistic testimonies of how the root culture is infected by new worlds when the trip and the adventure propitiate their meeting.

Accompanied by both the electronic music of The Lab and the depth of the guitar of José Almarcha, in its journey the lyrics of poems and songs of that environment of origin, of the first loves, of the clash between the idealized and the real, will be rescued and the loneliness and rawness that many times the adventures at the end of the road bring us. The aesthetic story of a life experience that belongs to women of all times is staged, and speaks of growth, of hunger for the future, of drastic changes guided by desire, and also of undesired destinies."

Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #4

The 4th artist announced for FFI 31 is La Familia de los Reyes from Sevilla.

I was with Carmen Ledesma when she was in San Francisco earlier this month, and I asked her about the de los Reyes family and she gave them her highest praise! This is going to be a puro style show from a Gitana family that is muy flamenca!

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The family of dancers is headed by father Juan and daughters Saray and Lole (Saray is the oldest daughter). Juan learned flamenco by accompanying his father to watch the Semana Santa processions and he became enchanted by the singing and the beats of the music. He studied under the great Pepe Rios (also one of Carmen Ledesma's maestros) from Moron de la Frontera. Rios was the grandson of Juan Amaya Cortes, who was the father of the legendary guitarist Diego del Gastor. "Pepe started his artistic career at 12 years of age. He worked in many flamenco companies including those of Manuel Vallejo, Manolo Caracol, Chonca Piquer, Juanita Reina, La Niña de los Peines and the La Paquera. He was also Rosario’s dance partner. He performed in festivals all over, with his wife Amparo Torre (Manuel Torre’s daughter) and his sister in law María Torre. He dedicated almost 50 years of his life to teaching flamenco in Seville in the street Castellar. Amongst his most notable flamenco students were Concha Vargas, Inmaculada Aguilar, Javier Barón, Juana Amaya and his nephew Ramón Barrull." (source of information about Pepe Rios is http://www.jairobarrull.com/aflamencolegacy.html)

Juan has worked in the major tablaos in Sevilla and Barcelona, including Los Gallos, El Cordobes and El Arenal. He was also a student of the great El Farruco and he later performed with him (he appeared in the film Bodas de Gloria with the Farruco family) and he was a member of Mario Maya's company.

At the age of four, Saray de los Reyes told her father she wanted to be a dancer! Born in Sevilla in 1989, she is married to flamenco singer Jesus Corbacho (he was one of the guest artists in the 50th anniversary home season for Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco in 2016). She began her dance studies with La Farruca, and at the age of 16 she was selected to appear in the production "Gitanas" for the 2004 Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla with Angelita Vargas, Carmelilla Montoya, Juana la del Revuelo, la Faraona and La Farruca. She has also participated in the prestigious Mont de Marsan Festival in France, and she won the "Carmen Ledesma" prize in the concurso de la Peña Torres-Macarena. She currently performs in the Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos in Sevilla, she teaches technique and choreography in the Flamenco Studio De Los Reyes, and she is the mother of two adorable children.

I'm not able to find much biographical information on Lole de los Reyes so far, but I do know that our 2016 and 2018 Flamenco Journeyer Liz Paez studied with her in Sevilla in 2016, and she loved her class!

Those that know me know that while I embrace all styles of flamenco, puro flamenco is my jam! I cannot wait to see this show and study with Juan de los Reyes (he is teaching Intermediate level workshops at 2:15 pm)!

This family also usually brings incredible singers and musicians, and once their entire lineup is announced (this may not happen until we arrive at the festival) I will give yall the scoop on that too!

This show could be the 2018 version of last year's Pepe Torres show and the 2016 Juana Amaya show. Repeat - can't wait for it!


The French Biennale d'Art Flamenco said this about La Familia de los Reyes:

"Flamenco has no university, it only has families. From time immemorial, families are the bedrock where all that is unique about this art form are made, passed on and preserved. It is inside the family that one experiences the flamenco identity, as a given and a responsibility. A flamenco Gypsy family is a boisterous encyclopaedia that has collected and nurtured a sound-based family tree for more than 200 years. The grand-children have an intimate knowledge of how “por soléa” – the great grand-father’ – sang, although they never knew him. Memory and transmission are what this is about. La Familia de los Reyes is one of those families that act as guardians of the flamenco treasure. Two generations of artists are on stage to show – that is a most daring and generous intention - what is usually hidden from the eyes of the layman: the living memory of a clan, with Gypsy dance at the core of their every movement."



Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #3

Dancer Guadalupe Torres was the 3rd artist announced for FFI 31, and her show Roble ("Oak") is making its US debut in the Festival with co-star José Maldonado.

This will be my first time seeing Torres, who was born in Madrid in 1983. She has studied with master teachers including Esther Escudero, Beatriz Martín, Ricardo Franco, Aurora Bosch, José Antonio Ruiz, Eva Yerbabuena, Alejandro Granados, Javier Latorre, Israel Galván and Antonio Gades. In 2002 she moved to Sevilla to join the Compañía Andaluza de Danza under the direction of José Antonio, and she has also performed with the companies of María Pagés and Rubén Olmo. She has also performed with singers Miguel Poveda and Montse Cortés, guitarist Pepe Habichuela and dancer Güito.

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She appeared in the Carlos Saura Film Flamenco Hoy and has collaborated on major productions with singer Montse Cortes and also with dancer Marco Flores and his company at the 2012 Festival de Jerez. She has toured extensively throughout Europe and Mexico, and her show Roble debuted in Paris in 2015. She has won major prizes including the 2007 Prize for Best Choreography for the show A miedos, Colores in the Certamen de Coreografía de Danza Española y Flamenco de Madrid, the 2010 prize for best solo choreography in the same festival, and she was a finalist in the concurso Cante de las Minas de La Unión.

Dancer José Maldonado is also a painter, and he has performed with some of the greatest in flamenco, including Javier Latorre, Antonio Canales, El Güito and María Pagés, In 2013 he obtained the first prize in the Certamen de Coreografía de Danza Española y Flamenco de Madrid for the choreography Mojacar and in 2015, for Trigo limpio. He currently combines the management of his  José Maldonado dance company with his participation as guest dancer and choreographer in the companies including Manuel Liñán and Guadalupe Torres.

From what I can see from watching her videos, Torres is a blend of traditional and modern and I'm looking forward to seeing her show, and a big plus one of my favorite singers "El Bola" is scheduled to sing in her show!

Here is the description of her show Roble:

"Everything starts with silence and ends with silence...

Make silence a space of control to feel safe and use silence as a language. To make the fragile glass of a bottle strong as the wood of the oak barrel where that wine was grown to mature and have its own aroma and flavor.

For a movement to have beauty it is necessary to breathe, to pause... for something to mature, calm and the passing of years are necessary.

Spaces in time full of complacent Silence, of mockery, of absence, compliance, necessity, choice, obligation ... Silences full of fragility, strength, or growth where they find their place in their own Soul.


They are millenarians and silent witnesses, always remaining firm and strong in the face of adversities and caprices of the earth and life. Always maintaining its beauty, majesty, freedom, strength and shelter for others. More and more branches in its trunk, until it becomes an old and silent Oak full of beauty, observing everything that happens around it over the years."


Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #2

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Madrid-based dancer Vanessa Coloma has been announced for the 2018 ABQ Festival! A rising star in flamenco, the ABQ festival will be the U.S. premiere of her show Flamenklórica that she debuted in Spain last year. She performed in the ABQ festival in 2014, shortly after the fire at the headquarters of the National Institute of Flamenco. 

She has also performed with artists including Rocio Molina, Jesús Carmona and Alfonso Losa (who also happens to be her boyfriend!) and in flamenco festivals and venues around the world including Albuquerque, Corral de la Morería and Casa Patas tablaos in Madrid and Mont-de-Marsan in France.

I had the opportunity to see Vanessa dance por fiestas at a show in Jerez in 2016 in La Guarida del Angel, and she brought the arte! It was the show of El Barullo (cousin of Farruquito) and the bulerias por fiestas was an all-star scene as there were so many flamencos in the audience, including Vanessa, Alfonso Losa, Juan Paredes and El Barullo's cousins El Carpeta and Afri!

Looking forward to seeing Vanessa's full show in ABQ, and here is a video from the world premiere of her show Flamenklórica in Spain last year.

P.S. If you want to follow Vanessa on Facebook, her full name is Vanessa Coloma Suarez


Festival Flamenco 31 - Artist Reveal #1


The 2018 Festival Flamenco Internacional de Albuquerque (2018 ABQ) is sending special insider announcements all week about the artists for the 2018 festival, and luckily your trusty Flamenco Journeys guide is on the list!  I just received word of the first artist announcement for the 2018 Festival - Alfonso Losa! He is making the U.S. debut of his show Con-secuenciA that premiered at the Festival de Jerez in February ,and this show was also his debut on the mainstage Teatro Villamarta at the Festival de Jerez. He will also be teaching workshops. I don't want to get you too excited, but I do know that Rocio Molina was a guest artist in Alfonso's show in Jerez. . .

Here is short video from the show from the Festival de Jerez to get you excited: - https://vimeo.com/258181388!

And here is what Losa said about the show in an interview before the Festival de Jerez - you can read the full interview here - https://www.deflamenco.com/revista/entrevistas/alfonso-losa-debuts-con-secuencia-at-the-22nd-festival-de-jerez-1.html)

This show reflects the point in time I’m living right now, and it’s a step forward.  It’s true that as a dancer, I’m not going to lose my identity in the way I dance, but I’m surrounding myself with a great team, among them, Florencio Campo, who is a great stage director and is helping me to get this work on its feet.  With all my years of experience in dance, you might think I already have everything I need to express myself, but it’s exactly the opposite: I need to continue learning, and I can only do that working with people who bring things to me that I don’t know or don’t have.  And sometimes, in order to continue learning, I have to question some ideas that I had taken for granted.  In order to learn and grow, you have to go back a little, and advance through other doors that someone opens for you. Which is why I talk about unlearning.  And as far as the consequence as a starting point, let me explain.  I’m looking for a new form of expressing what I feel and not only of dancing flamenco, which is already a very expressive genre, but also having an internal story-line from which I go moving through various motifs.  In fact, that’s what the show is about. I use the title as a sort of play on words: I present sequences, and each one of them has a motivation, such as internal rhythm, love, current artists like Rocío Molina, etc.  In those acts or sequences, we start out from a motivation, and we don’t know where we’re headed because it’s basically an investigation, it’s an improvisation within a certain order.