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We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

Even before the election that transformed billionaire reality TV star Donald J. Trump into the 45th president of the United States, playwright Robert Schenkkan was so disturbed by the candidate’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that he decided to respond. Not with a Tweet. Not with an opinion-page essay. The Pulitzer Prize winner spoke back to candidate Trump with a full-length play. “Building..

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Rafael Nofal’s play “El tiempo de la mandarinas” (“Season for Tangerines”) tackles the very relevant and disturbing theme of human trafficking. Produced by Antiheroes Project, this moving play is in its last week at Artefactus Teatro, a well-purposed black box and gallery space in a smattering of warehouses in Kendall. Nofal’s text removes overt violence and male characters fr..

Joshua Harmon’s savagely funny “Bad Jews” is an emotional cage match set in a pricey Manhattan studio apartment. The combatants are Daphna Feygenbaum (Hannah Benitez), a soon-to-be Vassar grad who plans to move to Israel, marry a man no one in the family has met and become a rabbi, and her cousin Liam Haber (Joseph Paul Pino), a master’s degree candidate and atheist who intends to..

The play begins, as it must, with the velvet voice of Nat King Cole crooning “Mona Lisa.” After all, how many paintings inspire an Oscar-winning song? For that matter, how many masterpieces survive damage, theft and the rapacious covetousness of collectors for more than half a millennium? Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda,” popularly known as the Mona Lisa, is that inspi..

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those pre..

When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..

When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..

Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..

Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..

The songs are familiar; the love story is also familiar but made fresh in “On Your Feet!,” the musical biography that comes to Miami this week. The narrative of Emilio and Gloria Estefan meet..

Dance lovers in Miami know that for the past two decades the International Ballet Festival of Miami (IBFM) has made the city in September a magnet for the brightest stars in the world of bal..

Orlando Taquechel, dance critic for two decades at the El Nuevo Herald (and now a contributor to Artburst), will have a book signing and discussion of his new book, “La danza in Miami (1998-..

The name Flamenco conjures the machine-gun snap of heels, arms arched overhead, the flick of red fabric and laser-like glares from beneath the starched black brim of a Cordobes hat. At the ed..

Gypsy Passion and a Salsa Soul in Diego El Cigala

Photo: Photo: Anya Bartels-Suermondt.
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Last year, Spanish singer Diego El Cigala performed at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. in what should have been a memorable night. Professionally, it was. The flamenco star enthralled the audience, but never told those present that, just hours before the show, his wife had died of cancer.

Earlier this month, as the artist put the final touches on his upcoming U.S. tour – including an October 29 performance at the Fillmore Theater, Miami Beach, presented by The Rhythm Foundation – and readied himself for the launch of a new album, he received the news that his mother, Aurora, had passed away.

The title of that upcoming album, Indestructible (Sony Music Latin, to be released on October 28) is more than fitting; no matter the heartbreak in his gypsy soul, El Cigala soldiers on.

“Life throws punches at you that shape you. When these things happen, I find relief in music,” says El Cigala from Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, where he’s lived since 2013. “It’s the only way to get through. Music makes you remember all those memories that you’ve had.”

Some 25 years of memories with his wife Amparo Fernández, the mother of his two children, ages 11 and 19. She was the love of his life, the rock of the family, and his manager as well, so everything he knew and cherished was changed forever when she died.

“The truth? I still don’t know how I did it,” says the Madrid-born singer. “When something like that hits you so suddenly, you don’t have much time to react. The only thing you want to do is go forward and take care of your kids.”

The show does go on with him

Indestructible, the album he’s promoting on this tour, takes the 47-year-old performer on a new and adventurous path, part of the musical journey of discovery that began in 2003 when he released Lágrimas Negras with legendary Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdés.

Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar, who had grown up singing in flamenco venues like peñas and tablaos, would go on to make a name for himself in the world of flamenco and perform with some of its key figures. But when Valdés introduced the man nicknamed after a popular crustacean in Spain to Cuban music, El Cigala’s musical world expanded.

“His collaborations and explorations push the boundaries of traditional flamenco, but always with great integrity and respect,” says Laura Quinlan, Rhythm Foundation programming director.

For Quinlan, who also brought El Cigala to South Florida two years ago, “flamenco is such a living style; it hasn’t become a dusty folklore music because the great artists like El Cigala keep evolving the art form. He is such a gitano, so Spanish, and also so much a man of the entire world.”

What the world had to offer him musically also brought El Cigala to tango and Argentine folk music in two albums, Cigala & Tango (2010) and Romance de la Luna Tucumana (2013), that won him Latin GRAMMY awards and broadened his audience appeal to make him a world music star.

With Indestructible (A documentary of the production is scheduled for release in December), El Cigaladelves into the genre of salsa, with the recordings taking place in San Juan, New York, Havana, Cali (Colombia), and Miami.

“These cities are the pillars, but Puerto Rico is the mecca,” says El Cigala, who included Puerto Rican salsa icons like Roberto Roena, Bobby Valentín, and Luis “Perico” Ortiz on some of the songs. “So I had to go there to share with all these musical geniuses.”

Cuba and Venezuela also in the mix

The result not only features his homage to Puerto Rican salsa, but also includes a tribute to Bebo Valdés himself and collaborations with GRAMMY-winning Afro-Cuban jazz pianist and composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba; Venezuelan salsa maestro Oscar D’ León; and Cuba’s Los Muñequitos de Matanzas rumba group.

“Although my father had worked with Diego, and both our families knew each other, this record marks my first professional collaboration with him,” says Rubalcaba from his home in Coral Springs. “We always had the willingness to do something together, but it didn’t happen until now.”

The challenge he and El Cigala faced was, he adds, how to perform classics of Latin music, recorded innumerable times, in an innovative way but without betraying their essence.

“With Diego, this has been a constant throughout his career. If we look closely, he’s restless, he’s daring. Diego is an artist with a capital A,” continues Rubalcaba.

“I like to say that Diego has created his own genre,” says Anthony González, A&R, Commercial Music for Sony Music Latin. “Tropical music obviously still exists, and it has gone through various stages, but he brings to this music his own very Spanish vocal style, and he has incorporated it ina way that is simply seamless.”

For González, what El Cigala creates has soul: “He’s certainly a romantic at heart, that comes across in his music, and that I think is also a great part of his ability to connect, not just musically, but emotionally as well.”

Diego El Cigala in concert, Saturday, October 29, 8:00 p.m.; The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.Tickets: $39 - $79 plus fees, on sale through LiveNation.com; http://www.rhythmfoundation.com/events/diego-el-cigala-2/

http://www.fillmoremb.com

 


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About The writer

Journalist, arts writer, instructor of English and Spanish

A bilingual journalist and writer for over 20 years, Juan Carlos studied Communications at Fordham University in New York. He holds a Master&rsquo..

About the Writer

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