Dance

South Florida Falls for Flamenco

Posted By Juan Carlos Perez-Duthie
December 2, 2015 at 6:44 PM

Suddenly, it seems as if all of South Florida has fallen under the spell of flamenco. Whether it’s another edition of Flamenco Festival Miami at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, or a tablao in a Calle Ocho restaurant, there’s been plenty of taconeo and zapateado taking place lately. With much more to come (see sidebar). For choreographer, dancer and instructor Adriana Nassiff, who runs the Dancing in XS studio in Doral, there are several possible factors to account for the booming interest in flamenco and Spanish dance in South Florida. “The Flamenco Festival from Spain started to come to the States, to cities like Washington and New York, and then to Miami. This introduced us to some of the biggest names,” says the Colombia-born Nassiff of the annual U.S. fest that began in 2001. “Then, with the recent migration of Venezuelans and other Latin Americans who have brought their love and passion for flamenco to Miami, the studios and schools here have had to satisfy the demand,” continues Nassiff, a flamenco dancer for most of her 35 years. Her flamenco classes, she adds, are full. The Cuban population in Miami, both the earlier generations and the more recent ones arriving from the island, love flamenco as well, explains Paola Escobar, who studied flamenco in Spain, danced flamenco in Cuba, opened a studio in her native Colombia and then moved to Miami in 2005. “Some 15 years after having lived in Havana, I find many of the dancers I worked with back then are here now,” says Escobar, who dances with several flamenco groups, including veteran Paco Fonta’s Siempre Flamenco. “They all love flamenco. It’s in their genes.” When Spanish flamenco pianist, composer and cantaor Diego Amador, famous for his fusion of flamenco music and jazz, decided to join forces for the first time with fellow countryman and flamenco dance superstar Joaquín Cortés, they settled on Miami to present the show Flamenco Jazz Tribute, which marks the start of Amador’s concert tour promoting his latest album, Diego Amador Live in Paris — Flamenco Jazz Tribute. “In Miami, Spanish and English are spoken, and that made it attractive. Besides, it is a city of great quality and culture,” says the self-taught Amador, 40, from Madrid. “I was in Miami many years ago with another project, but this will be my first time as a solo artist. I am glad there’s this flamenco fever in Miami right now. Joaquín and I can’t wait to be there to bring our experience to the audience.” An audience that will be able to witness not your abuelo’s flamenco, but Amador’s innovative take on jazz, which he grew up loving passionately, much to the surprise of the other musicians in his family, and his sensual flamenco cante (singing), and piano playing (he has described himself as a “pianist who plays the piano as a guitar”). Amador is not the only one dancing around tradition, however. Guitar player and composer José Luis Rodríguez, who hails from Huelva and has made Miami home since 2011, also likes to show through his work that flamenco can keep up with the times without losing its classical essence. Rodríguez, 46, has combined flamenco and Afro-Cuban music; worked with electro-acoustic sounds; and collaborated on a project of flamenco and Sephardic music. “When I got to the States, I found that there was this idea, a little bit stereotypical, about the flamenco guitar,” says Rodríguez, “because there had been this gap, between the 1980s, when all these flamenco artists were here [like Cacharrito de Málaga and Paco Fonta], and now. During the time when Spain was prospering, many of these artists returned home. But this left an impression of flamenco that was dated.” As a result, what he does, contemporary flamenco, he calls “nu flamenco.” “Flamenco is usually associated with castanets and polka dots, a very typical type of flamenco, which is not what I do,” adds the musician. “I compose music through flamenco.” IF YOU GO What: Flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortés joins pianist, composer and flamenco singer Diego Amador on Friday for Flamenco Jazz Tribute Where: The Fillmore Miami East at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach When: 8:00 p.m.; fillmoremb.com. Photo credit: Sole Travagli

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