The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Rafaela 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 casual conversation with a fellow theater artist prompted José Manuel Dominguez, founder and artistic director of Antiheroes Project, to produce the company’s latest piece, “El tiempo de las mandarinas,” (“Season for Tangerines”) by Argentine playwright Rafael Nofal. “I am drawn to themes of memory, dreams, and paradise lost, but for a long time I’ve wanted to do a play based on reality,” sa..

The 32nd International Hispanic Theatre Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 6 with the Mexican company Los Tristes Tigres’ irreverent spin on Shakespeare, “Algo de un tal Shakespeare” (“Something by One Shakespeare”). Founder and director Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the festival’s engine that could and still can, identifies this raucous play as part of the festival’s larger goal of attracting..

Nowadays, it’s tough not to feel worried, paranoid or in need of some escapist relief from the steady flow of oh-no-he-didn’t news out of Washington. Miami playwright Theo Reyna feels your pain. His response is “Firemen Are Rarely Necessary,” a jet-black satire now getting its Mad Cat Theatre Company world premiere at Miami Theater Center’s Sand Box. The play takes intricately aim..

Pearl Cleage’s play “Flyin’ West,” an M Ensemble production currently on stage at the beautiful new performing arts center in Liberty City, the Sandrell Rivers Theatre, is set in humble Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the reconstruction period following the Civil War. Set in 1898, the play focuses on the lives of Sophie (Brandiss ..

Esteban, (http://estebanlapelicula.com/en/) the debut of Cuban director Jonal Cosculluela being premiered at The Miami Light Project tells the story of a 9 year old, living in Havana with his mother, who’s raising him as a single parent, and his perseverance following his dream of becoming a musician. The challenges seem overwhelming. Esteban and his mother struggle to make ends meet (htt..

Desperate times call for desperate measures. For some, that might mean taking a second or third job. Or robbing a bank. Or moving in with family. For Casey, a straight lip-syncing Elvis impersonator in a Panama City bar, desperation means forsaking the King’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit for leg hair-hiding pantyhose, fake boobs and big-hair wigs, the better to sell himself as a fa..

Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..

When Ballet Flamenco La Rosa takes to the stage this weekend, it will present a program based on traditions which were handed down through the ages. A program filled with the mysteries of fl..

With every great new love, the beginning is a crucible of extremes – will it endure for decades or permanently scar?The program for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami’sJuly 8show, “Fiebre: A N..

With a heightened emphasis on “Noise” as an innovative musical genre, this sixth installment of the Miami Performance Festival International (M/P’17), running June 23 to 25, challenges South..

After 17 years as a principal dancer with the esteemed San Francisco Ballet, dancing every major role and style possible, Lorena Feijoo is retiring from that company to embark on a new journe..

Miami choreographer Marissa Alma Nick is a storyteller. Her company Alma Dance Theater brings a particularly female inner world to the stage, through lush and sensual choreography. Nick’s..

Pools are ubiquitous in Miami. They dot the landscape like Jackson Pollock drip paintings. Residents swim or idle the hours away by or in the pool – and dancers of Momentum Dance Company also perf..

May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..

One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..

The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..

The Brilliance of Gypsy Flamenco Guitarist Tomatito

Photo: Photo by Olga Holguin
Written by: Fernando Gonzalez
Article Rating

Flamenco was born as fusion. It emerged in Andalusia in the South of Spain in the latter part of the 18th century, as expression of an underclass, including both gypsies and non-gypsies, struggling to adapt and survive. Since its origins, the challenge for flamenco artists has been to hold on to its elusive identity while constantly absorbing elements from the culture around. It is a strategy of survival and the core of this art form.

Few have embraced the challenge with the brilliance of gypsy flamenco guitarist José Fernández Torres, better known as Tomatito. The five-time Latin GRAMMY winner appears at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami on Friday as part of MDC Live Arts series.

Born in Almería in a family of musicians, Tomatito was 15 when José Monge Cruz, best known as Camarón de la Isla, one of the most important singers in modern flamenco history, happened to need a guitarist after his regular accompanist, the extraordinary Paco De Lucia, was becoming too busy with his own career. Camarón remembered the kid he had heard at a tablao, and the one-off, fill-in opportunity grew into one the most notable partnerships in flamenco. It lasted 18 years, until the singer´s death in 1992, and produced several lasting masterpieces of flamenco.

Since, Tomatito, 58, has developed a solo career that reveals a great curiosity, courage and talent to explore other genres, from Latin American folkloric styles and Turkish music to classical and jazz. Most notably, Tomatito has collaborated with pianist Michel Camilo, with whom he recently recorded Spain Forever, their third album together. It includes music by New Tango master Astor Piazzolla, Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Egberto Gismonti and Django Reinhardt. "Flamenco is … so rich, so strong, that it will never lose its identity for mixing with other music,” Tomatito once said. “I'm not afraid."

For this performance however, which features a sextet including dancer José Maya, Tomatito will focus on flamenco and music from his previous release, Soy Flamenco.

Tomatito spoke to us from his home in Almería.

The guitar in flamenco has gone from being sort of a Cinderella, an afterthought, to queen, a solo instrument that may or may not require singers and dancers. How have you lived that evolution?

I was lucky to have been born when the role of the guitar was already changing. It was not yet a solo instrument, but then Paco [De Lucia] changed everything. With all due respect to other guitarists, there was not anyone like him before or since. He had great technique, not just flamenco but classical guitar technique, impeccable rhythm, a big sound. He was the complete guitarist.

How long has your son José been working with you? You said I n an interview that your mother told you he already plays better than you did at his age.

Well (laughs) you know that when a flamenco gets an idea in his head, until he does it he won’t rest. He’s 18 and has been playing with me for two years already. He’s very serious about it and is doing it very well.

When Camarón discovered you how was it to replace Paco de Lucía?

I was a kid, we were already living in Málaga and I was playing at a tablao in Taberna Gitana. Camarón used to spend stretches of time in Málaga and he heard me play there. It turned out he had a gig and needed a guitarist and remembered “the kid at the Taberna.” So the owner of the place calls me and tells me Camarón wants me and I just said “Sure, okay” and there I went. Those days I didn’t know anything about Camarón or any of that — and that’s a good thing because if I had known I would’ve ran the other way.

Instead, for me, it was like a game: “Sure what do you want me to play?” I was a kid. I wanted to play the guitar and have fun — and then he started calling me. It was one of those things. [As for replacing De Lucia,] you don’t replace Paco. He’s the master.

Flamencologists have been harsh with artists who stray from the cannon, but you have been very open-minded about collaborating with musicians from other traditions and trying out a variety of musical mixes. How did that come about?

I learned early on to care very little for the musical dictatorships that exist in all music genres. And I say this with all respect to flamenco, I’m a gypsy and I love flamenco, but there comes a time when you have to leave the house and try to learn other things.

If you cannot do more than what you are doing, fine; but if you think you can grow, you must look for new things, learn, develop.

Your most recent albums are Spain Again, the duet with Michel Camilo; Sonanta Suite, a recording with the National Orchestra of Spain; Soy Flamenco, a flamenco recording, and now Spain Forever. Is this zigzagging in and out of classic flamenco something planned or is it you just following your interests?

No, it’s not planned. It’s perhaps the need of the artist to complicate his life. Now, it’s like traveling. I travel a lot, visit new places and learn other customs, try new things — but that also makes you appreciate more of what you have at home, and I love my street, my house, my bed, my armchair. That’s flamenco for me.

Flamenco guitarist Tomatito and his sextet featuring dancer José Maya, Friday, Nov. 4, 8:00 p.m., Olympia Theater, 174 Flagler St., Miami; tickets $35-65; MDC students $10; www.mdclivearts.org; 305-237-3010.

 


Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

Music writer, associate editor of the Latin GRAMMY Print & Special Projects for The Latin Recording Academy

Emmy-winner and GRAMMY®-nominated writer, critic, and editor Fernando González is the associate editor of The Latin GRAMMY Print & ..

About the Writer

El debut de Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) en noviembre del año pasado fué un acontecimiento artístico y un descubrimiento sumamente agradable. Una sola función en el Miami-Dade Cou..

El festival “Out in the Tropics”, patrocinado por Fundarte en conjunto con el Centro Cultural Español y el Miami Book Fair International, normalmente trae artistas del mundo LGBTQ e hispanoha..

La Gala anual de Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami (CCBM) es un evento que esperan con ansiedad los aficionados al ballet en Miami y, sobre todo, los admiradores del estilo cubano. Desde su deb..

El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..

Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..

No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..

Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..

Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..

En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..