Dance

The charm of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa returns with ‘Callejon Flamenco’ at the Koubek Center

Written By Jesús Vega
May 24, 2024 at 3:17 PM

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa premieres “Callejón Flamenco” on Sunday, May 26 at the Koubek Center, Miami. Pictured are soloist María Mercedes Pérez, the “cantaor” José Díaz “El Cachito”  and guitarist José Luis de la Paz, composer of the music of “Callejón Flamenco.” (Photo by Jenny Abreu, courtesy of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa)

Each performance by Ballet Flamenco La Rosa (BFLR) is synonymous with a new exploration of a genre that has yet to exhaust its possibilities. The company will evidence this with its show “Callejón Flamenco” on Sunday, May 26, at 3 p.m. at the Koubek Center at Miami-Dade College.

BFLR, founded in 1985 by teacher, choreographer, soloist, and artistic director Ilisa Rosal, is a non-profit Miami group of Spanish, American, and Latin American artists dedicated to flamenco as a genre in continuous evolution and open to all types of rhythms, styles, and forms of improvisation, as has been demonstrated in its long history of presentations.

An assertion that Rosal demonstrates.

“First, we do three main types of shows,” explains the artist. “One is pure flamenco, the other is a fusion of flamenco with other styles of dance and music that we have done a lot; and the other is narrative pieces performed in flamenco that are works of literature or theater from many countries, and important classics performed in flamenco, something very unique that no one else in the world does.”

María Mercedes Pérez of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa.
(Photo by Jenny Abreu, courtesy of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa)

The new production, led by Rosal, manifests the enchanting power of flamenco at its best, incorporating live music, choreography, and excellent artists of the genre, such as Mayelu Pérez, María Mercedes Pérez, Sandra Bara, and Pilar Fernández.

How did the idea for “Callejón Flamenco” come about? No one is better than Rosal to reveal the creation of this show, where the captivating interaction between music and dance will take the audience back to a Sevillian “tablao” with its magic.

“As with all the flamenco works that we have done for so many years, we seek a very intimate bond between the artists that we have in the company right now, three dancers and two musicians, in addition to the director and choreographer,” says Rosal. “We wanted to investigate in some depth the style of each one, what they have in common, and how they collaborate, always respecting the authenticity of flamenco and the point of view of each artist under the vision of a choreographer. It is exciting because we have outstanding artists, and we can take advantage of their talent.”

The “cantaor” José Díaz “El Cachito” and José Luis de la Paz, guitarist and composer of the music of “Callejón Flamenco.” (Photo by Jenny Abreu, courtesy of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa)

“Within the world of flamenco and within the pure flamenco works that we have done, this work is, let’s say, a search for the differences and common elements in the diverse styles of each dancer,” adds the choreographer and artistic director. “Because each dancer has been dancing for a long time, she is a great professional, and in flamenco (I don’t know if everyone knows this), it is an art for soloists that begins by dancing alone on a stage, in a ‘tablao.'”

Rosal explains the characteristics distinguishing flamenco and its artists from other dance manifestations. “It’s a little different because normally in ballet or contemporary dance, or whatever, you start in the corps de ballet, and if you stand out, they put you as a soloist,” she adds. “But flamenco is almost the other way around: you must ‘take the tables’ dancing alone because you must know how to interpret and progress, collaborate with musicians, and when you are strong enough as a soloist, you can participate in a company.”

This is what she says will be seen in the production.

“Each dancer will do a dance alone that highlights their style, choreography, and improvisation. But then there are four group dances, like a corps de ballet but with soloists, so each one brings her style, but interpreting the choreographer’s vision.”

The soloists María Mercedes Pérez and Mayeli Pérez with Milagros Ventura, guest artist. (Photo by Jenny Abreu, courtesy of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa)

Since dance and music are an inseparable union in flamenco, “Callejón Flamenco” has its surprises, with the guitarist José Luis de la Paz, responsible for the composition, arrangements, and interpretation of the music, and the “cantaor” José Díaz, “El Cachito.” Both are prestigious and recognized exponents of flamenco worldwide.

“José Luis de la Paz has worked a lot with us. The first was in ‘Caesar and Cleopatra,’ inspired by a famous play by George Bernard Shaw. He composed all the music for the production. Later, when he came to live in Miami more permanently, he participated in the different pure flamenco presentations with us,” recalls Rosal. “We have had him for five or six productions, and it is a great pleasure to work with him because he has a lot of art, is at an incredible level, is a very good person, and is very creative. It is a luxury to have him with us.”

Next year will have an extraordinary meaning for the BFLR, marking its 40th anniversary.

“I feel like I have achieved something complicated,” says the Rosal. “It really was a tremendous struggle, and it still is, but I have also managed to make my dream come true because, for a long time, I had exactly this in mind. And so, I did it, with everything it requires, with a lot of work, with a lot of struggles, but in the end, I achieved everything I tried to do.”

The soloist Sandra Bara. (Photo by Jenny Abreu, courtesy of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa)

But before the anniversary, the BFLR Ballet has a lot of work ahead of it. Its programming does not stop and requires choreographic and musical work and the preparation of several productions, each with its own identity and charm.

“In July, we are going to do a pure flamenco show at the Miami Beach Bandshell called Fiesta Flamenco,” says Rosal. “It will be a more typical improvisation work, like a ‘jam session,’ like a party where the artists improvise most of the time. Then we will do new work in September, ‘The Virgin and the Gypsy,’ inspired by one of D.H. (Lawrence’s) lesser-known novels. We have it scheduled for the Koubek Center at Miami Dade College.”

Presenting authentically and precisely a genre as dynamic and profound as flamenco is, without a doubt, a challenge that Rosal, her group Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, her male and female dancers, and her musicians have been able to face with professionalism and dedication.

“It is a huge challenge because flamenco is big, complex, and deep. And it is always developing, always evolving. Therefore, from the beginning, you must have a lot of respect and a lot of attention to flamenco, its roots, its tradition, and its authenticity, and within that, look for ways to be creative without ever forgetting what flamenco is,” she says.

WHAT: Ballet Flamenco La Rosa presents “Callejón Flamenco”

WHERE: Koubek Center, 2705 SW 3rd St., Miami

WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, May 26 

COST: $35, $30 for students, seniors, and children) at https://www.onthestage.tickets/show/ballet-flamenco-la-rosa/66153c290b5b7c0e3ffa41fd

INFORMATION: balletflamencolarosa.com

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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