The Pitch: Toronto International Flamenco Festival
nationalpost.com Ben Kaplan | Oct 4, 2012 12:26 PM ET
Lionel Félix, founder and executive producer of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival, believes that his gathering of the tribes is the season’s hottest ticket. Here, in honour of his event’s sixth anniversary, he presents his four reasons why.
1. “There’s always dancing, singing and music, but this year we’ve got one of the best flamenco artists in the world, Rafaela Carrasco,” Félix says of the Seville-born, Madrid-based artist, making her first-ever Canadian appearance at the other TIFF. “She respects tradition, but audiences and critics rave about how she performs in her own unique way.”
2. “A 75-minute class won’t be enough to teach you everything about flamenco, but our free introductory classes will give interested dancers a great place to start,” says Félix, who was born in Haiti, and fell in love with flamenco in Montreal. “The classes are for both men and women.”
3. “There are workshops in singing, guitar and dance taught by the world’s top artists.” Félix adds that the advance courses, including a dance tutorial from Carrasco, offer interested Torontonians a chance to study at the heels of Spain’s most sought-after performers. “It’s an opportunity Toronto might not see again.”
4. “Brand new this year is a flamenco film series at the Bloor Cinema,” says Félix, who selected the five flamenco-themed pictures (three from Spain, one from Los Angeles and one from Israel). “It’s a unique way to experience flamenco from a film perspective, all the movies are original — and extremely good.”
Full review from original source, click below
25 October, 2012
今年で、第６回目となるトロント国際フラメンコフェスティバル「Toronto International Flamenco Festival」が10月20日、トロン
トのソニーセンター（Sony Centre for the Performing Arts）で開催され、内外のフラメンコ関係者をはじめファンなどたくさんの
今回のショーでは特に世界中で数々の賞を受賞しているダンサーで振付師のラファエラ・カラスコ（Rafaela Carrasco）が、スペ インより初来加。彼女の作品のパフォーマンスは感動的でした。彼女はスペインのフラメンコ祭において主要２賞を受賞し、批 評家やマスコミから高い評価を受けているそうです。現在40歳と、脂（あぶら）の乗ったエネルギッシュでアーティスティック なタップが魅力的でした。彼女がこれから年齢を重ねるごとにより深みのあるダンスを披露してくれることを期待します。 また、ラファエラのカンパニーから一緒に来加した４人の意気の合った男性ダンサーも見ごたえがありました。そのほかトロン ト在住のカルメン・ロメロ（Carmen Romero）やスペイン出身でカナダをはじめ世界中で活躍しているイルセ・グディーニョ （Ilse Gudino）の踊り、歌い手やギター、ピアノなどの演奏も「さすが」と思わせる水準の高いパフォーマンスでした。来年の トロント国際フラメンコフェスティバルにも是非行ってみたいです。
〈 トロントの一フラメンコファン 〉
Full review from original source, click below
Men in Skirts. Flamenco Dancing Without Limits
ashimasuri.com 21 Oct 2012
I hadn’t seen anything like it. At least never in flamenco dancing. And I wasn’t just pleasantly surprised, I was in complete awe. I was inspired to the point where I wanted to call up a Flamenco dance school and take lessons immediately!
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went the annual Toronto Flamenco Festival. But when I saw Choreographer Rafaela Carrasco’s beautiful performance and creation, I most definitely left the Sony Centre as a big fan of her work. Her bio said ‘Rafaela Carrasco’s approach to flamenco dance can be summed up by the title of her 2004 piece Fuera de los limites (Beyond the Limits).’ Her work is very true to the essence of flamenco dance but groundbreaking in pushing the boundaries and not only challenging herself and her dancers, but the audience members as well.
From Spain, Carrasco doesn’t only create a masterpiece with four other strong male flamenco dancers, she essentially bears her own heart and soul in all her performances showing her grace and strong athleticism. Having her male dancers enter with the gorgeous long skirts was just one of her ways to showcase a different way of seeing flamenco dancing —at least to a non-flamenco dancer like myself.
The show ended (no surprise) with a standing ovation. The overall production was seamless and the choreography left you wanting so much more. Carrasco represents strong female choreographers making their mark not only as creators, but also as strong performers able to hold their own. I also wanted to make special note of the use of live singers and the amazing lighting direction that was done as part of the overall production.
A definite must see! http://www.rafaelacarrasco.com/
Full review from original source, click below
Rafaela Carrasco enamoró al público de Toronto en el Festival Internacional de Flamenco
La sexta edición del Festival Internacional de Flamenco tuvo un cierre de gala con las actuaciones de Ilse Gudiño, Carmen Romero y Rafaela Carrasco, en el Sony Center for the Performings Arts.
La pasada noche del sábado, Toronto vibró de pasión una pasión convertida en movimiento a ritmo de flamenco. La bailaora Rafaela Carrasco ofreció una única actuación en Canadá, deleitando a los seguidores del flamenco con un espectáculo lleno de innovación y tradición.
Importantes personalidades del panorama cultural de Toronto, profesional del baile, políticos y amantes del flamenco en general, no se querían perder un espectáculo que sorprendió a más de uno.
El público se amontonaba a las puertas que daban acceso al Sony Center for the Performings Arts, deseosos de ver sobre el escenario a una de las bailarinas españolas de flamenco más importantes del panorama actual, Rafaela Carrasco y dos grandes artistas locales, Carmen Romero e Ilse Gudiño.
La sexta edición del Festival Internacional de Flamenco concluyó con unas actuaciones marcadas por la conjugación de elementos tradicionales, con los aspectos más innovadores, realizando así una perfecta combinación que fascinó hasta al propio Cónsul General español, Francisco Pascual de la Parte, quien quiso compartir con TorontoHispano su impresión del espectáculo diciendo; “es una de la mejores actuaciones que he visto donde se fusiona lo moderno y lo clásico, pero sin dejar de perder esa esencia auténtica del flamenco”. Durante el espectáculo, los espectadores se vieron obligados a ponerse en pie en más de una ocasión ante el derroche artístico de desprendía Ilse Gudiño con los movimiento de sus bata de cola y Carmen Romero, con una fabulosa actuación acompañada a ritmo de piano. TorontoHispano pudo hablar con Carmen Romero, una gran artista y una de las promotoras del baile flamenco en Toronto quien nos dijo; “poco a poco el flamenco va calando en los espectadores de Toronto y Canadá, ya no solo lo ven como un baile exótico sino que empiezan a sentirlo. Hay numerosa gente aquí en Toronto que llevan trabajando mucho tiempo para hacer llegar este arte”.
La ovación final fue dedicada a Rafaela Carrasco y su compañía, representando "Vamos al Tiroteo", un nombre que como más tarde nos explicaba la bailaora, tiene mucho que ver con la manera de afrontar el espectáculo y la vida en general; “el nombre de Vamos al Tiroteo, está sacada de una frase que se dice en una de las canción que llevamos, pero además representa muy bien lo que queremos expresar en el espectáculo, vamos al tiroteo es como decir vamos a afrontar las cosas, vamos de cara”.
Tras el éxito del espectáculo y agotada pero satisfecha, Rafaela dedicó unos minutos a TorontoHispano como forma de agradecimiento al entregado público del Sony Center for the Performings Arts; “es mi primera vez en Toronto y estoy muy contenta por el cariño que he recibido. Da igual de que nacionalidad o raza sea el público, el flamenco no hay que entenderlo sino hay que sentirlo, el flamenco no entiende de fronteras sino de sentimientos y los sentimientos existen en todos los lugares del mundo, siento que me inspira el momento, es una energía especial que sale de dentro y que luego vuelve, una energía que llega al público y éste te lo devuelve. Es tu ego como artista, es tu momento, algo que no consigues en la vida normal. El flamenco es una terapia, aprendes a conocerte, te cura, en realidad les digo que el flamenco cura”.
Texto y Fotos: María Elena Manzanares
Full review from original source, click below
Flamenco en pantalla grande
Apr 11, 2012
'Morente, la película' se presenta en Canadá
Apr 19, 2012
Canadá acoge desde el 12 y el 22 de abril la presentación oficial del documental de Emilio Ruiz Barrachina 'Morente, el cantaor , el hombre , el genio', nominado a los premios Goya 2012. El último papel artístico que representó en vida el maestro nazarí será objeto de divulgación en cuatro de las ciudades más importantes de Canadá donde en palabras de Anette Morcos, responsable de la exhibición en Calgary, "la comunidad hispana es muy importante y cada vez el flamenco tiene mayor aceptación". La escritora madrileña Justine Bayoz Espoz acudirá como representante oficial de Barrachina para presentar el documental y charlar con el público al finalizar las representaciones. El próximo viernes le toca el turno a la ciudad de Calgary, si bien antes pudo disfrutarse en Toronto y Montreal, y posteriormente pasará hasta la ciudad de Winnipeig. La presentación se enmarca en una serie de actos organizados por el Flamenco Toronto Festival donde el audiovisual tendrá un papel importante. Además, podrán verse otras películas de Barrachina como 'Lorca. El mar deja de moverse', 'La España de la copla' y 'Orson Wells y Goya'. Podrán verse también una serie de películas con un claro transfondo flamenco, entre ellas 'Kumpania' de Katia Dun, o 'A Cara o Cruz' de Silvia Prio. Recordemos que en el documental de Emilio Ruiz Barrachina, el cantaor granadino desgrana parte de su vida con el hilo conductor de los cantes que se recogieron en el disco homenaje a Pablo Picasso y en el que se suma el más grande de sus amigos, el barbero Eugenio Arias. Este emotivo documental servirá para poner de relieve la figura aperturista y personal del maestro del Albayzin. Segun Anette Morcos, "será la primera vez que veamos el documental de Morente en Calgary, una ciudad en la que el Flamenco va calando poco a poco, estamos muy ilusionados y esperamos que el público responda y disfruten tanto del documental como de la charla posterior de la amiga personal de Barrachina, Justine Bayoz". Más información en la Web (http://www.flamencocalgary.com/). MANUEL SUALIS
Flamenco and Spanish culture come to Canada
Apr 12, 2012
zeeBigBang attended yesterday the musical documentary “Morente”, a 2012 Goya nominated film based on the career of Spanish-born Flamenco legend, Enrique Morente. Before and after the screening, Justine Bayoz Espoz, a Madrid flamenco critic and author who works closely with the film’s director Emilio Barrachina, interacted with the audience.
You still have time to see other films in the series A Journey through Flamenco & Spanish Films in Toronto at the National Film Board Mediatheque. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover or acquire new knowledge related to the art of Flamenco as well as Spanish art and culture.
vSix different themed movies showcase the importance of Flamenco around the world. Four of the works are by Barrachina. Also featured is the film “Kumpania: Flamenco Los Angeles”, directed by Katina Dunn, and “A Cara o Cruz / Heads or Tails”, directed by Silvia Prió.
Take this opportunity to explore the world of Flamenco in Toronto today and tomorrow! You will also have the opportunity to enjoy some of the movies during the following days in Montreal, Calgary and Winnipeg. For more information check out A Journey through Flamenco & Spanish Filmsat: http://www.torontoflamencofestival.com/
Flamenco en Canada
Festival Internacional de Flamenco en Toronto
Presencia Latina Media
El pasado mes de octubre se celebró por cuarta vez consecutiva el Festival Internacional de Flamenco de Toronto. Este es el evento relacionado con el flamenco más importante de esa ciudad.
La organización del festival estuvo a cargo de Lionel Felix, su fundador, quien expresó que la meta principal del evento era que la gente pudiera apreciar en Canadá el arte del flamenco, trayendo directo desde España músicos, cantantes y bailarines, para compartir el escenario con los mejores artistas locales.
El grupo "Café Olé" dirijido por Dustin Shaskin y sus músicos dio inicio al espectáculo, tocando temas originales de flamenco-jazz y poniendo al público en "tono" para el resto de la noche.
La primera bailadora en presentarse fue la canadiense, Lisa La Mantia, quien, al son de las cuerdas de su guitarrista, y de las palmas y las voces de las cantadoras que le acompañaron, dejó bien claro que en Canadá también se baila auténtico flamenco.
Siguieron a La Mantia, los artistas invitados de España quienes con su espectacular show se apoderaron de la tarima. El grupo estaba conformado por un guitarrista, dos cantadores, un percusionista y un experto en luces para seguir los bailadores visitantes durante sus presentaciones.
La española, Maribel Ramos, conocida como "La Zambra", bailó varios temas con una pasión y vitalidad tremenda. La Zambra se movió con tanta emoción y precisión que el público quedó de pie cuando terminó su presentación.
El evento contó también con la participación del bailarín español, Oscar de los Reyes, quien ejecutó sus números con energía y talento, destacando su destreza en el baile gitano.
Con su música, cantos y bailes, el Festival Internacional de Flamenco logró transportar a los presentes desde el Queen Elizabeth Theather de Toronto hasta tierras españolas, en un viaje lleno de embrujo gitano.
Flamenco: Fit and fiery
October 23, 2009
Flamenco is a workout for your brain as well as your body.
The fiery Spanish dance runs on 12 counts instead of the usual eight, which can confuse beginners, says Lionel Félix, executive producer of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival.
The festival's highlight, a performance by three top flamenco acts, is slated for Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth theatre.
The dancers' strong, proud posture sets the tone for the dance, known for its intricate footwork and dramatic arm movements. Control is key, Félix says, as dancers' steps act as a counterpoint to the music.
"(Dancers) become drummers with their feet," he says.
Flamenco activates muscles seldom used otherwise. The core is always engaged. Wrist circles, one of the dance's basic moves, work the forearms, while the swooping arm movements can tire out the shoulders.
But everyone, regardless of age, shape or gender, can learn and practice flamenco, a partnerless dance, Félix adds.
Beginner classes often isolate the movements, concentrating on the upper or lower body. Within three months, novices should be able to perform a basic routine.
These two simple exercises can help prepare the body to dance.
Wrist twist: Hold a two- or three-pound weight in each hand, palm up, with your arms relaxed in front of you. Slowly turn your wrists until your hands are palm down. Reverse. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.
Arm hold: Hold your arms out to your sides, shoulder height. Keep them steady for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat with your arms in front of you at shoulder height.
Sampradaya Dance Creations and Toronto International Flamenco Festival 2009
reviewed by Paula Citron
SAMVAD with concept by Lata Pada, mentored by Pada, Michael Greyeyes and Charmaine Headley and performed by Meena Murugesan, Nadine Jackson and Shelly Ann McLeod
Sampradaya Dance Creations
Triana, la otra orilla with Rafael Campallo and Maria Moreno
Toronto International Flamenco Festival
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
This weekend was rich in dance.
Bharatanatyam choreographer Lata Pada believes that interculturalism rather than multiculturalism is the new reality. The touching SAMVAD featured South Asian dancer Meena Murugesan, Aboriginal dancer Nadine Jackson and Afro-Canadian dancer Shelly Ann McLeod who were mentored by Pada, Michael Greyeyes and Charmaine Headley. The word means dialogue, and the dancers came up with their own movement and text based on their life stories shaped by the mentors. These three young women danced from the heart in this shared history.
Lionel Félix, producer of Toronto International Flamenco Festival always brings in what’s new and hot from Spain, and Rafael Campallo and his partner Maria Moreno were both innovative and sizzling. Unlike the tired flamenco shows that are on the circuit, this duo and their musicians were in your face with attitude and excitement. Campallo has flying feet and unpredictable moves, while Moreno takes the traditional shawl and snail dress and turns them on their ear.
Solo dance artists stood out in 2008
Individual dancers provided moments that left critic breathless
December 30, 2008
The big story out of the Toronto dance scene this year was not so much a trend as a default position.
With the demise of one company as a performing entity and the shrinking of others, with funding always hard to come by and therefore less time and effort going into new works, the ensemble acts weren't the most memorable; the solo performances were.
Not that there weren't some great company shows in 2008 (although few of them originated in Canada).
What stands out more were the moments onstage when one dancer set you back in your seat, took your breath away or touched you to the core.
It was a case of seeing the trees outlined against the dim forest.
When you get right down to it, what brings us back to the theatre, if not a performer who offers a transcendent moment and moves us in ways we hadn't expected?
People bring high expectations to any performance by Peggy Baker, but she exceeded even those high standards in the past 12 months.
Dancing Portal, her latest solo, in utter silence but with skilful lighting by Marc Parent, she was spellbinding. In a duet created for her by James Kudelka, A Woman by a Man, she told a whole story of a marriage with dance partner Michael Sean Marye. Then last month at the Young Centre, she paired up with Michael Healey in a beautiful piece of dance drama, Radio Play, created by Denise Clarke. Baker amply displays the benefits of being a dancer over 50: the more she dances, the more deeply individual and original a performer she becomes.
The audience for Stars of the 21st Century at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in May was expecting to be bowled over by young Daniil Simkin, now with American Ballet Theatre, who came with advance notices comparing him to Mikhail Baryshnikov. And he was pretty amazing, with lots of height to his leaps and quick-as-lightning movement. But the knockout performance of the evening was delivered by the National Ballet of Canada's Zdenek Konvalina, who was electrifying in Béjart's Greek Dances. Later in the season, he was thrilling again in a much more actorly role, as Kostya in John Neumeier's The Seagull.
Peter Chin's great ability is to startle with the unexpected. He's the only one to remember from an otherwise hokey performance, structured improvisations for 25 dancers arranged by Jamie Cunningham and Tina Croll, to celebrate 25 years of the Premiere Dance Theatre. At the CanAsian Dance Festival he delighted audiences with a solo called Mind's Hammer, performed to his own music as played by the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan group. Vancouver dancer Wen Wei Wang made a strong impression on the same stage with One Man's, a solo inspired by his years growing up in China's Cultural Revolution.
Another Vancouver performer, Crystal Pite, did a solo in her own show, Lost Action, that pretty much turned everyone else into background.
Denmark's Kitt Johnson gave a riveting performance, requiring immense stamina as well as artistry, in her solo Rankefod, a show that made you believe this was the way the world begins, if not ends. Julie Hay traded in her pointe shoes for stiletto heels to take on the role of Penny in the continuing run of Dirty Dancing. Mercedes Ruiz gave Toronto a taste of flamenco to set a stage on fire. And Tré Armstrong showed us what she's made of as the second lead dancer in Iqbal Rashid's wonderful film tribute to street dancing, How She Move.
Speaking of Armstrong, chair of the judges on the Canadian version of hit U.S. TV show So You Think You Can Dance, there can be no doubt about the solo dancer who made the biggest impact in 2008. It was 24-year-old Nico Archambault, the Quebec contemporary dancer who won the title Canada's Favourite Dancer with his captivating manner and let's-give-it-all output during 10 weeks of television competition.
In contrast with these individual accomplishments, the Toronto dance season offered more lows than highs from some companies we've come to expect a lot from: Dancemakers, Toronto Dance Theatre and Kaeja d'Dance. Danny Grossman Dance Company brought a close to 30 years of performing with a historic dance installation at the Distillery District. Grossman's legacy will live on in a foundation and institute for preserving and teaching his choreography.
It was left to the visiting dance companies, especially Mark Morris Dance Group, brought in for Luminato, to provide the big thrills of a mass of dancers onstage.
Spanish dance takes over T.O.
Tango Fire' returns to town for two shows on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008.
Why passion on view in live tango and flamenco shows transcends television
November 06, 2008
Tango and flamenco dancers will be burning up the floor at three different venues in downtown Toronto over the next 10 days. Wherever either dance form is practised, the words "passion," "soul," "fire" and "pain" are frequently dropped.
Apart from their Spanish cultural origins, the dances have very little in common. (The word "tango," originally applied to music, was first used in Andalusia, Spain, the birthplace of flamenco.) But the idea that the performances are felt as much as seen is something emphasized in both tango and flamenco and helps explain their universal appeal. It's not something you'll experience sitting at home in front of So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With the Stars.
A quality that is often talked about in flamenco is duende (pronounced DWEN-day). The poet Federico Garcia Lorca developed the concept in a lecture he gave in 1930.
"Duende is a struggle, a dark force, having very little to do with outer beauty, a struggle present in the artist's soul, the struggle of knowing that death is imminent," Lorca said. He saw duende as a critical element in dance, music and the bullfight.
In flamenco music, song and dance, duende can be seen as the driving force.
"It's an elusive thing to try to describe," says Esmeralda Enrique, who will premiere Cantos de la Tierra (Songs of the Earth) with her company and guest Spanish dancer Juan Ogalla tonight at the Fleck (Premiere) Dance Theatre. "It involves a complete surrender of your being to the moment, and it can happen with a group of people performing. If they all surrender at the same moment it becomes a different level of experience."
Singers, like Enrique's guest cantaora from Spain, Encarna Anillo, and musicians – another guest performer is guitarist Oscar Lago – also channel duende.
There is a correlation between tango and flamenco, says Enrique. "It's the emotional quality. Visually both forms are stunning to watch, but it's mostly what one feels that we are dancing to."
In the case of the tango, it's the emotions shared by a couple. There is a saying that "tango is not in the feet. It is in the heart."
Ines Cuesta partners Mauricio Celis in a show straight from Buenos Aires called Tango Fire, running for two shows on Saturday at the Winter Garden Theatre. The couple, who is also husband and wife, has been dancing together since their teens.
Tango is all about the embrace, and the Argentine tango, as opposed to the North American ballroom form, calls for close heart-to-heart contact. In tango, says Cuesta, "You show a lot of emotions and feelings. It's in my gaze. I love him and I love dancing with him."
Tango couples mate for life. They become one artistic unit. "You must listen to his body," says Cuesta of the woman's role. "It's very important to have the energy running between you."
During breaks from touring with Tango Fire, Cuesta and Celis, one of five couples in this well-received show performed to live music by Quatrotango, dance in the supper clubs and restaurants of Buenos Aires. "Tango is our life," she says. "We can't stop working."
Since he quit his job in the financial services industry last year, flamenco has been Lionel Félix's life. As founder and executive producer of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival, Félix has pulled off a small coup by bringing in renowned Spanish flamenco dancer Mercedes Ruiz to headline the performance on Nov.15 at the St. Lawrence Centre that caps the second annual festival. She will also lead some of the festival workshops that begin on Tuesday.
Félix, a former football player and mathematician, is one of the few men in Toronto to have studied flamenco. He started in 1995.
"I went through all the schools," he says. He was also a ballroom dancer, competing in the Canadian championships as recently as 2006.
To Félix, duende is a way of explaining a deep connection to one's art.
"You have to be able to bring others into that vibration of duende. Sometimes the audience has a part to do by giving the feedback that the artist needs." In flamenco it's a deep emotional connection to self, he says. With the tango, the same connection is made by a couple.
Ruiz, a rising international star with plenty of passion to pull in an audience, will perform her solo Juncá. Enrique and her company as well as Carmen Romero will also dance in the festival show.
It will be a fitting close to a tempestuous time for dance lovers.
Guillaume is gone ... flamenco is fabulous ... Peterson is present ... Christmas crackles
By JOHN COULBOURN
2 November 2008
If you're looking for dance with more of a Latin flavour, you might want to check out the 2nd Annual Toronto International Flamenco Festival, slated to put its foot down here in Toronto from Nov. 10-16. While it offers a range of workshops in singing, dancing and guitar (register online at torontoflamencofestival.com), it's all capped by a special evening of performance, featuring flamenco sensation Mercedes Ruiz, as well as Esmeralda Enrique and Carmen Romero, at the St. Lawrence Centre, Nov. 15. Tickets are available at 416-336-7723.
THE BEST OF 2008 And the dance awards go to
December 21, 2008
You had to be there (Citron's list of the year's memorable moments):Junca (Toronto International Flamenco Festival) The imperially slim, 29-year-old Spanish sensation Mercedes Ruiz brought with her two dancers, three singers, two guitarists, one percussionist, a pianist and some gorgeous costume changes for her exciting Canadian debut. Her show Junca was a tribute to her home town Jerez, the heartland of flamenco. Ruiz's incredibly intricate and rapid footwork was balanced by sensuous and erotic adagio.
THE BEST OF 2008 And the dance awards go to
December 21, 2008
Most dazzling Canadian debut Spanish sensation Mercedes Ruiz and her show Junca was marked by a breathtaking mix of passion, drama and speed.
A CRITIC'S VIEW
Great TV but it's not all dance
By any measure applied to TV programs, So You Think You Can Dance Canada has to be rated one of the most successful shows ever produced in this country. Six weeks into the series, launched on Sept. 11, the show came in as No. 1 of all the new fall programs. The three performance episodes were averaging 1.36 million viewers and SYTYCDC was rated the top show for women, younger viewers and urban markets.
Dancers and choreographers struggling to bring audiences into theatres must be a little peeved, or at least a touch envious. But they shouldn't fume because watching this show, even witnessing a taping of it, has little to compare with the experience of attending a live dance performance.
So You Think You Can Dance has spawned a new genre: TVDance, a close relative of music video. There's almost nothing live about it. Even when you're sitting in the bleachers in the cavernous Lake Shore Blvd. studio where the competitors charge through their numbers, it's the screen you tend to watch, not the performance, frequently obscured in any case by creeping cameramen trolling for close-ups.
The performers are dancing for the camera, after all. You just have to take the judges' word for it that some of these couples are generating enough heat to singe the skirts on the young women ranged around the catwalks above the stage. (Those dancers who don't are invariably enjoined to "take it to another level.")
The dancing looks great, but there's no emotional connection between performers and audience. For that, you would have to attend an actual dance concert: last Saturday's flamenco performance by Mercedes Ruiz comes to mind.
Granted, the judges are in a much better position - right on the set - to really feel something and notice more than the dancers' amply exposed young bodies.
(Last Wednesday night, Lisa Auguste and Nico Archambault's sexy jazz-funk number choreographed by Blake McGrath caused American guest judge Dan Karaty to comment, "They wouldn't allow that (on the air) in the States.")
Toronto International Flamenco Festival 2008 - Mercedes Ruiz in Juncá reviewed by Paula Citron
Juncá, Mercedes Ruiz
Toronto International Flamenco Festival 2008
Starring Mercedes Ruiz and Company, Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company, Compañia Carmen Romero and Gareth Own
Bluma Appel Theatre
The second annual Toronto International Flamenco Festival was a stunning success. The packed house at the Bluma Appel Theatre started cheering early, and kept right on until the final curtain. This concert had a real buzz.
This year's star was the imperially slim, 29-year-old Spanish sensation Mercedes Ruiz who brought along two dancers, three singers, two guitarists, one percussionist, a pianist and some gorgeous costume changes. Her show Juncá was a tribute to her home town Jerez, the heartland of flamenco.
Ruiz's style is marked by passion, drama, and speed. She executes incredibly intricate footwork, but she is also capable of gorgeous adagio. For example, she performed an erotic jazz inspired number sporting an impressive bata de cola, the spectacular long ruffled train, accompanied by a singer, and, of all things, a pianist.
The talented Canadians in the opening act were Esmeralda Enrique and Carmen Romero and their companies, and 20-year-old guitar wunderkind Gareth Owen from Victoria, BC.
Noche de Gala y Arte
en el Toronto International Flamenco Festival 2008
La seguidilla de espectáculos culturales de alto nivel artístico no para en Toronto.
El pasado sábado quince de noviembre fue la noche central del segundo Festival Internacional de Flamenco en Toronto, realizado en el St. Lawrence Centre For The Arts, en Front Street.
El evento tuvo como artista estelar a la afamada danzante, natural de Jerez-España, Mercedes Ruiz. Quien trajo su espectáculo denominado “Junca”; un acto dedicado a su ciudad natal que es también cuna de muchos de los más grandes artistas de flamenco. Por parte de Canadá se presentaron la no menos conocida Esmeralda Enrique y su Spanish Dance Company, el talentoso y joven guitarrista Gareth Owen de British Columbia, y la Compañía de Danza de Carmen Romero.
El público torontino respondió con un lleno total a la invitación del organizador y productor ejecutivo del festival, señor Lionel Félix, quien viene organizando este evento por segunda vez consecutiva, con el objetivo de mostrar y celebrar lo mejor del arte flamenco en Toronto, tanto con artistas internacionales como con talento canadiense.
El acto estuvo dividido en dos partes, la primera parte empezó con la presentación de Esmeralda Enrique y su compañía de danza formada por Paloma Cortes e Ilse Gudiño. Ellos interpretaron el número llamado “Lluvia”, de su reciente producción “Cantos de la Tierra”. A continuación fue el turno de Gareth Owen y su acompañamiento conformado por Verónica Maguire y Harry Owen en las palmas, quien interpretó una Buleria llamada “Siguiriya”. Finalmente para cerrar la primera parte del show salió Carmen Romero y sus acompañantes Pamela Briz, Leona Cortes, Luisa de Ronda y Alicia, quienes ofrecieron una pieza llamada “En Un latido”.
La segunda parte del show fue para Mercedes Ruiz y su “Junca”; que constó de siete partes o canciones. “Arrancarse”, “A Semilla Flamenca”, “Barrio La Plazuela”, “Recuerdos en mi Soledad”, “De Acebuche a Cerro Fuerte”, “Herencia de la Tierra” y “Cerrin Malacachin”. Todos ellos interpretados de una manera magistral. La precisión de los movimientos y la intensidad de los mismos fue algo que cautivó a todos. Después de cada pieza el público se paraba a gritar y aplaudir de pie como si se tratara de un concierto de rock.
Así culminó con éxito este festival que se proyecta como uno de los más importantes de la región.
Publicado: 18 de Noviembre, 2008
Reportaje: Enrique De Vinatea. firstname.lastname@example.org
Stamp your feet for the Toronto International Flamenco Festival
August 5, 2007
Chances are, not a lot of us are waking up in Toronto this summer thinking: "You know, what this city needs is more summer festivals."
Seems every weekend -- not to mention most of the weekdays in between – is simply loaded with festivals, celebrating everything from alternative theatre to alternative sexuality to alternative culture and cuisine.
And the list just keeps on growing.
One of the latest entries is the Toronto International Flamenco Festival, slated to run at the Music Hall on the Danforth next weekend, showcasing the talents of international flamenco star Alicia Marquez.
To hear producer Alexandra Felix tell it, the whole idea of a flamenco festival here in Hogtown is not just an idea whose time has come, it's an idea that is long overdue. "Toronto is such a cosmopolitan city and flamenco is such a cosmopolitan dance," she insists.
"Flamenco festivals are popping up around the world. People get into more than the dance. They get into the culture, the music, the food."
Felix and husband Lionel, who imports flamenco materials, are particularly heartened by the success of major festivals in New York and Albaquerque, and they are convinced they can find echoes of that success right here on the banks of the Don, where fanciers of the dance find little to feed their appetites.
"We want to bring people who are already into (flamenco) world class artists," she explains, adding that, even though they are bringing in high calibre entertainers, the forthcoming festival is not just for fans of the medium. Neophytes will find something to stomp their feet about too.
"The minute you see flamenco, you are intrigued by it," she says. "It's a very welcoming dance. You don't have to have a formal dance background."
And while they acknowledge that the vast majority of Toronto's flamenco aficionados are of the female persuasion, they are doing their best to change that, showcasing Marquez's talents alongside one of the leading male dancers in her company.
"This is a really strong masculine dance and we really wanted to add the influence of a strong male figure," she explains. And even though the festival will be followed by three days of intensive workshops in dance structure, technique, choreography, singing (with Jesus Corbach) and guitar (with Manuel Perez), the cream of the festival will be showcased at the Music Hall.
And the fact that it will be competing with the wildly successful Taste of the Danforth will simply add to the flavour, according to its optimistic organizers, who insist that the two festivals really have a lot in common -- and not just the Spanish restaurants that are springing up on the Danforth.
"To enjoy the show, you don't need to be able to dance at all. It's really about culture," Felix insists. "It's passionate. It's alive. It brings you to life."
For tix and further info, visit torontoflamencofestival.com or call (905) 660-9417.
Ole! Flamenco festival to do more than just tease
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
August 8, 2007
Lionel and Alexandra Felix are following their dream. They have quit their day jobs and put up $70,000 of their own money to mount what they hope will become the annual Toronto International Flamenco Festival. Running Aug. 10 to 15, their festival is the first of its kind in Canada, and only the third in North America after New York City and Albuquerque, N.M.
Flamenco festivals are very specific in nature, be they in France, England, Germany, Italy, Japan or Spain. Concerts by top-notch and emerging flamenco artists anchor the evenings, but the days are devoted to intensive workshops. Says Lionel Felix: "Touring flamenco shows are teasers. They come to town for a single concert, but leave nothing in the local market. A flamenco festival showcases top artists not only as performers, but as teachers who provide professional development and personal enrichment."
As the Felixes point out, however, not all superstar flamenco dancers are gifted teachers. Their research led them to Alicia Marquez, who has not only performed with the greatest flamenco companies in Spain, but whose Seville studio is regarded as one of the top flamenco training centres in that country. Marquez's career reads like a who's who of flamenco. She has danced for Jose Antonio, Antonio Gades, Paco Pena, and filmmaker Carlos Saura.
This first festival is, understandably, of modest proportions.
Marquez has put together an original show, Aire Flamenco, which kicks off the festival with shows Aug. 10 and 11 at The Music Hall.
The following week, Marquez, her dance partner Nano, singer Jesus Corbacho Vasquez and guitarist Manuel Perez will each give intensive classes in their specialties. Of particular note is a Felix innovation. Nano will be teaching a styling class for men only. The curated evening concerts at a local watering hole will feature performances by dancers, singers and guitarists attending the festival.
With Toronto flamenco star Carmen Romero acting as interpreter, Marquez was reached by phone in Seville. As she says about her beginnings: "I started taking dance classes when I was 4, and by 11, flamenco was my life."
Marquez, who is 35, was born in Seville. Her father was a perfume salesman and her mother a housewife. Marquez was exposed to all things artistic and creative, including painting, singing and dance. While Marquez excelled at everything, it was in dance that she found the greatest freedom to express herself. When asked what inspires her in flamenco, Marquez points to the philosophical lyrics of the songs. "It's their profound verses and musicality that touch my heart," she says.
Her mother chose her teachers very carefully. When she was 8, Marquez was put with the legendary Matilde Coral, who gave her a solid technique because along with flamenco, she also taught regional and classical Spanish dance. Marquez remained with Coral until she was 18.
Every flamenco dancer has his or herown personality. Marquez's trademark is her consummate elegance, powerful expressiveness and exquisite femininity.
Her specialty is the alegrias, a dance performed with a long train, or the bata de cola, which involves great technical skill. According to Marquez, the train must become an extension of the dancer's own body as a manifestation of her womanly wiles.
In 2000, Marquez started to put together her own shows, although she still continues to work with others when the great ones call. "I wanted to see what I had, what I was made of. I had to find out if I had my own vision," she says. In fact, she was an instant success; Aire Flamenco is Marquez's North American debut under her own name.
The title of the show was chosen by Marquez and Nano as they were creating the solos and duets they are bringing to Toronto. Because they both breathe flamenco differently, they thought the title expressed their individualities. Valencia-born Nano, who started dance training in 1991, represents the new generation of flamenco artists. He cut his teeth in the company of the great Cristina Hoyos, and in 1998 won first prize in Madrid's prestigious Spanish Dance and Flamenco Choreography Competition. Says Marquez: "I chose Nano to work with me because of his heart."
Marquez is married to her first boyfriend, whom she met when she was 14. His business is dental prostheses, and the couple have a four-year-old daughter, Gabriela. Marquez opened up her own teaching studio when she was 24 and her focus is building strong technique in her students.
When asked why this Toronto flamenco festival is important, Marquez says it is a way of communicating first-hand the strength, the power and the passion of flamenco from people who live it and breathe it.
Romero agrees. "Canadian dancers, guitarists and singers have to diversify their training. It is essential for growth in any art form, and this festival means they can do that here in Canada. While the festival is importing Spain to Toronto, Toronto, in a way, is exporting Spain to all the people who come here to study. It makes the city a top flamenco centre."
And a final word about the ambitious Lionel and Alexandra Felix, who are as unlikely candidates to start a flamenco festival as could be imagined.
Lionel was born in Haiti, grew up in Montreal, and was a star football player at the University of Waterloo, where he graduated in actuarial science. Toronto-born Alexandra is of Italian heritage. She got her masters in French translation at the University of Montreal and worked in marketing for a French company. They have two children, Jenna, 4, and Jonas, 2.
When a knee injury sidelined Lionel in his third year of university, he took up ballroom dancing as rehabilitation. The couple met at a Toronto salsa club and became dance partners, good enough to reach the gold level in competition. However, Lionel was so driven by dance that he wanted to pursue the art form intensively on his own and not be dependent on a partner. That led him to flamenco. "I don't look like a traditional flamenco dancer," he says with a laugh. "I have the build of a football player."
The enterprising Lionel began a company, The Art of Expression, in 1996 to fill a need in the flamenco community. He imports top-quality, handmade flamenco shoes and portable dance floors from Spain, and now has customers all over North America.
Alexandra has been the nuts-and-bolts organizer who has devoted a year and a half of her life putting the festival together. Lionel is the artistic arm and resident dreamer. Says Lionel: "You could say our passion outstrips our budget."
The performances of Alicia Marquez's Aire Flamenco take place at the Music Hall, Aug. 10 and 11 (416-870-8000). For festival details, visit http://www.torontoflamencofestival.com.
Toronto International Flamenco Festival--Alicia Márquez’s Aire Flamenco
Monday August 13, 2007
By Paula Citron
The first Toronto International Flamenco Festival began modestly with two performances by Seville-based Alicia Márquez and friends over the weekend. The dancers, singers and guitarists are staying in town to give flamenco workshops until Wed. The premise of the new festival is to bring in top international flamenco stars who will both perform and teach.
Márquez's show at the Danforth Music Hall called Aire Flamenco was outstanding. In fact, it was one of the best flamenco puro shows I've seen. The format was a mix of solos, duets and musical interludes by both the singers and musicians. It was brilliantly put together to highlight the drama of flamenco.
Márquez was charismatic yet full of feminine grace, while the male dancer Nano was macho and sultry. The chemistry was so strong between them that it jumped off the stage. The four singers and musicians propelled the exciting music with their intensity.
Workshops by Márquez and company continue at the Toronto International Flamenco Festival until Wed.
August 16, 2007
By Glenn Sumi
Greek tragedy wasn't the only culture people got to taste on the Danforth. Inside the Music Hall Friday and Saturday (August 10 and 11), hundreds of lucky viewers sampled some of Spain's finest flamenco artists.
As the headliners of the first Toronto International Flamenco Festival, dancers Alicia Marquez and Nano burned up the stage with their colourful, foot-stamping show. Flamenco's not an art form for the meek or shy, and in their passionate duets the two offered a melodrama in miniature with jaw-dropping technique and confidence.
Márquez, proud and extroverted, commanded the stage, most impressively in the Alegrias section, where she effortlessly flipped her dress's long (and very heavy) train.
Nano, hair drenched with perspiration, was Márquez's poised partner and a slyly erotic figure in his bravura solos.
Musicians are as important a part of a flamenco show as the dancers. Manuel Pérez and Jordi Albarran created haunting harmonies with their guitars, while David Lagos and the young Spanish sensation Jésus Corvacho showed what flamenco singing, with its mournful outpouring of emotion, is all about.
Let's hope the festival, the brainchild of Lionel and Alexandra Félix, returns next year bigger and (if possible) even better.
Alicia Márquez presentó su show en el Music Hall de Danforth
Abriendo la primera edición del Toronto International Flamenco Festival, este Viernes 10 y Sábado 11 de Agosto en el escenario del Music Hall de Danforth, hizo su debut en Norteamérica la reconocida figura del flamenco Alicia Márquez.
"Aire Flamenco", una producción original de esta talentosa sevillana, es una bella muestra de lo elegante y conmovedor que puede ser el flamenco en su estado puro, así como un tributo a los elementos y disciplinas que componen este apasionado género artístico.
El espectáculo arrancó con las guitarras y las voces del cante flamenco que desde la penumbra invadieron todos los rincones del teatro. Luego se les unieron los "bailaores", dándonos una muestra de lo que estaba por venir y terminando de encender el ánimo de todos los asistentes que recompensaron a los ejecutantes con un sincero aplauso.
El virtuosismo de los músicos se puso a continuación en evidencia, en un duelo de guitarras en el que la fuerza y sensualidad de la música por unos minutos parecía detener el paso del tiempo. Luego fue el turno de los "cantaores", con toda la pasión, con "palos" llenos de tristeza y melancolía que paradojicamente encantan, emocionan y hasta alegran.
Luego, la tradición del flamenco sevillano se vio reflejada en la gracia, elegancia y desenfado de los movimientos de la Márquez, y de Nano quien la acompaña en el tablado. De las más básicas hasta las mas complicados rutinas fueron presentadas de una forma tan natural y a la vez llena de sensualidad, en un espectáculo en el que la fluidez y la atención dada hasta al más pequeño detalle demostró el control que los ejecutantes tienen de su arte.
Dar a conocer, generar interés, conmover y lograr que más público en Toronto se involucre en este bello género artístico, son los objetivos de este festival, que también contó con talleres de baile, canto y música impartidos por los talentosos artistas que pudimos ver en el escenario.
Nos despedimos de los organizadores, quienes se mostraron visiblemente emocionados al ver la nutrida asistencia y los rostros satisfechos del público, augurando un exitoso futuro para este festival que busca poner a Toronto en el mapa del Flamenco internacional.