GALA HISPANIC THEATRE kicked off the 13th International Flamenco Festival last night in Columbia Heights with a powerful blend of dancers and singers backed up by a three piece band that transformed the GALA into an intimate tablao Spanish dance hall setting with everything but the sangria.
World famous Salvadorian flamenco artist Edwin Aparicio teamed with his partner Aleksey Kulikov of the Ukraine to bring out the international diplomatic corps in celebration of their commitment to arts in America, as the ambassadors from Spain, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Mexico were front and center to witness this cultural phenomenon.
Fuego Flamenco XIII opens with Flamenco Extranjero / Foreign Flamenco, choreographed and directed by Edwin Aparicio (El Salvador/USA), curator of the festival and founder of the Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company, with special solo choreography by Fanny Ara (France/USA) and Carola Zertuche (Mexico/USA).
Flamenco Extranjero features Aparicio and special guest bailaoras Fanny Ara and Carola Zertuche and singers Isabel Soto and Amparo Heredia “La Repompilla” (Spain). Other artists appearing are dancers Alexa Minton (France/USA), Norberto Chamizo (Germany/Spain), Kyoto Terada (Japan/USA) and Mariana Gatto-Durán, (Bulgaria/USA); and musicians Gonzalo Grau (Venezuela/USA), Ricardo Marlow (USA), and Behzad Habibzai (USA). Mr. Grau is Musical Director.
The program began with the troupe of seven dancers from as far away as Japan, Bulgaria and France and as close as Mexico and El Salvador strutting their stuff to the count of 1 to 10 as each in their country’s gypsy dress and 2 inch heels clapped and pounded the stage to the rhythm of a Spanish guitar, bongos and electric keyboard.
In addition to Aparicio’s 12 minute ‘Nostalgias’ dance solo, French classical ballet artist Alexa Miton performed a mesmerizing Black Widow piece with her hair shrouding her face as singers Ampara Heredia and Isabel Arjona cast a spell on the audience with a haunting funeral dirge.
But the energetic star of the night was Norberto Chamizo, a Spanish immigrant born in German who found his roots in Madrid who showcased his range of motion from duets with Japanese artist Kyoko Terada to macho bullfighter moves in his signature blood wine toreador vest.
Fuego Flamenco XIII continues on November 9 at 8 pm with the US premiere of Binomio, presented in collaboration with Madrid’s Fundación Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas. This imaginative new flamenco piece is choreographed by Francisco Hidalgo, who returns after last year’s smashing hit with another riveting work that mesmerizes and showcases his virtuosity.
Featured with Hidaldo are Anabel Moreno, a celebrated dancer and actress from Granada, Spain; singers Trini de la Isla and Ana Polanco; musical director and guitarist José Almarcha; and musician El Wafir S. Gabril. Press Night and Artist Reception for Francisco Hidalgo & Company is Friday, November 10.
The Fuego Flamenco Festival runs through November 12 at GALA Theater’s historic Tivoli Theater venue at 3333 14th Street, NW, one block from the Columbia Heights metro station on the Green/Yellow lines, where ‘Language Is a Bridge’. www.GALATHEATRE.ORG