Dance

Miami A Stomping Ground For An Abundance of Flamenco

Written By Helena Alonso Paisley
October 29, 2023 at 2:42 PM

From the Miami-Dade County Auditorium to the Miami Beach Bandshell and The Moss Center, it’s a fall festival of flamenco. FUNDarte presents Maui, above, on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Yeliq)

Miami is in for a flamenco feast. With four separate events to choose from in this first week of November, the menu ranges from the purest “cante jondo” (deep song) to the most avant-garde performance art, the sharp lines of the solo male dancer, or “bailaor,” to the florid and feminine hands of the female dancer, “la bailaora.”

Anyone from the most ardent aficionado to the culturally curious will be able to satisfy their hunger for a taste of this ancient and alluring art form.

In a new initiative by FUNDarte, FL.Flamenco gets cooking at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 2 and 3, with concerts by dancer Rafael Ramirez.

Produced by Spain Flamenco Arts, Ramirez is currently touring the United States with a full cadre of musicians in tow, including singers Rosa Linero and Fabiola Santiago, guitarist Isaac Muñoz and percussionist Alex Otero.

While much of his dancing is “orthodox flamenco,” Rafael Ramirez has recently begun exploring the softer, rounded lines of shawl work, a technique previously strictly in the realm of his feminine counterparts. (Photo by Sounglare, courtesy of FUNDarte)

Ramirez calls his dancing “orthodox flamenco”: he favors clean, masculine lines and has a healthy respect for traditional aesthetics learned in his native Malaga. Still, he counts as one of his major inspirations Rocío Molina, that rebel child of the flamenco dance scene who is not afraid to move fast and break things. And like many male Spanish dancers, Ramirez has recently begun exploring the softer, rounded lines of shawl work, a technique that was previously strictly in the realm of his feminine counterparts.

Like Ramirez, dancer Clarita Filgueiras is sure to shine in her shawl work. She performs in three concerts Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5, at the Moss Center with singer Manuel Molina, guitarist Rodrigo Valdés, percussionist Elich García and dancer Valeria Sierralta.

Clarita Filgueiras, who performs on Saturday, Nov. 4 and Sunday, Nov. 5 at The Moss Center, is known for her dominion of the “mantón de Manila,” the silk shawl often used by female flamenco dancers. (Photo by María Roldán, courtesy of Clarita Filgueiras Flamenco Puro)

Filgueiras is famous among her South Florida fans for her delicious braceo, the style of arm work so characteristic of traditional female flamenco dancers.

“I feel the music in my hands and in my arms,” she says. “You can . . . separate the fingers and bend the wrist and take your time with that and it really decorates what you’re hearing. You feel it in your arms as you’re moving them, how they’re saying the same thing that the music is saying.

Across town at the Miami Beach Bandshell on Saturday, Nov. 4, Israel Fernández offers an evening of pure gypsy flamenco singing, accompanied on the guitar by Diego del Morao. Fernández is no stranger to Miami, having toured extensively with dance diva Sara Baras’s troupe, but this concert will mark his United States debut as a solo artist.

Singer Israel Fernández, left, and guitarist Diego del Morao perform Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Miami Beach Bandshell, with a masterful technique and a fresh style that never loses touch with flamenco’s traditional gypsy roots. (Photo
courtesy of FUNDarte)

Fernández was born into a gypsy family where singing and playing flamenco was as essential as breathing.

“What I do is flamenco,” he says. “I don’t know how to sing anything else.” He doesn’t need to. And whether or not you speak Spanish, Fernández believes you will understand the feeling the music transmits.

Israel Fernández, Diego del Morao: “Al Tercer Mundo (Bulerías) ft. Pional”

“Flamenco has a lot of charisma, a lot of power . . . it reaches people everywhere,” he says. “I can hear a song in English, and I may not understand it, but I hear the melody and it reaches me and it might make me cry, you know?”

He says that music is spiritual.

“Music comes from God, you see? So, God is love and loving God and music is the same in my way of seeing things . . . it’s like food, right?”

The weekend’s smorgasbord will be capped off on Sunday, Nov. 6, with “Domingos de Vermut y Potaje,” an intimate afternoon with performance artist Maui de Utrera. Looking like Pedro Almodóvar had cooked up a cross between Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, Maui will stir up a traditional Andalusian bean stew onstage at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium’s Black Box theater.

Maui, whose uncle is the famous singer Bambino, recaptures some of the magic of her gypsy upbringing at the Sunday, Nov. 5 performance of  “Domingos de Vermut y Potaje” at the Miami Dade County Auditorium. (Photo by Miriam Yeleq, courtesy of FUNDarte)

With piquant humor and colorful stories told to catchy rumba beats, she and invited guest Paco Aguilera treat an onstage audience to a taste of the flamenco experience that she lived growing up in an iconic gypsy enclave in southern Spain. What might seem on the face to be a shtick borrowed from theater-of-the-absurd is actually a loving reflection of that childhood reality.

“I come from a small town south of Utrera where flamenco is tremendously pure and we celebrated life around a pot of bean stew . . . My mother would cook it on Sundays and all the neighbors would eat from that pot.” Maui, whose uncle is the famous singer Bambino, explains that “suddenly a guitar would appear, someone would dance, someone would start singing and that pot would feed us.”

There wasn’t much money, and beans were served because they were cheap, she says, “but as a little girl I saw it as a celebration of life, of rhythm, happiness and duende.”

Maui: “Quererte a medias”

It is precisely that “duende,” the mysterious spirit found in the purest, most heartfelt flamenco, that somehow impregnates the pot of stew she prepares onstage as she regales the audience with the stories, songs and rhythms of her hometown. After the performance, the audience actually shares in the stew, taking with them the essence of the afternoon.

Rafael Rodríguez

Rafael Ramirez opens the FL.Flamenco festival on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorim. (Photo by Sounglare, courtesy of FUNDarte)

“For me, the stew is a magic potion,” she says. “If you’ve been able to laugh, to get excited and afterward you eat that stew, you go home with your skin tighter, your back straighter and your eyes shining.”

Like a new love or great food, flamenco is an enigmatic elixir, filling you up at the same time as it makes you hungry for more.

WHAT:  FL. Flamenco presented by FUNDarte featuring “Lo Preciso” by Rafael Ramirez, Israel Fernández and Diego del Morao,  “Domingos de Vermut y Potaje” by Maui with special guest Paco Aguilera. Also, The Moss Center presents Clarita Filgueiras in “Flamenco Puro”

WHEN: Rafael Ramirez, 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 and Friday, Nov. 3, Israel Fernández, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4; Maui, 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5; Clarita Filgueiras, 6  and 8:30 p.m.  Saturday, Nov. 4 and 3:30 p.m.  Sunday, Nov. 5

WHERE:  Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St, Miami, Miami Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, and The Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St, Miami.

COST: Rafael Ramirez. and Maui shows, $30, $25, senior-student, $20, group. Israel Fernández,  $41.20;  Clarita Filgueiras, $30 in advance, $35 at the door.

INFORMATION:(305) 547-5414 or fundarte.us and (786) 573-5300 or mosscenter.org

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com. 

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