Category Archives: singer

The night I went from selling flamenco fans to becoming one

FORD Merch table Victoria Sela

Victoria Montecillo and Marisela Hughes

by Victoria Montecillo

This past weekend was the biggest event of the summer for the Fountain: Forever Flamenco at the Ford. Since I’ve been working here at the Fountain, this event was something we were all working towards, and I found myself growing more curious and excited to see what all of the fuss was about. As a newcomer, Forever Flamenco sounded like an amazing opportunity to showcase a beautiful and unique art form to the communities of Los Angeles. In the weeks leading up to the big night, everyone in the office kept telling me about the fervor and passion of the flamenco community, and that I had to just wait to see it for myself. No amount of preparation, however, could have prepared me for the experience. 

FORD seats fansOn the day of the show, I came to the venue early with the rest of the Fountain family in order to put out the VIP gift bags (I had spent the weeks leading up to the show working very hard to make sure the bags were all ready and had what they needed, so I was very proud of them), and set up a merchandise table up front. By the time it got to be about two hours before curtain, I started to notice a sizable crowd gathered outside, ready and waiting with picnic baskets. Once the gates opened, people came streaming in, chatting excitedly and eyeing our merchandise and flamenco fans as they passed our merchandise table. And once the gates had opened, the people just kept streaming in. There were people laughing and eating together, and greeting others in what felt like a true community. 

Many of the people who approached our table were loyal, longtime flamenco fans who loved and appreciated the Fountain’s commitment to producing flamenco. Others were drawn to our beautiful fans, where they shared that this was their first flamenco show. It was amazing to see and be able to meet all of the different people that were in attendance at this big event, and to get to feel the pure excitement in the air.

FORD Merch table

Barbara Goodhill, Victoria Montecillo and Marisela Hughes at the merchandise table.

The show itself was truly something to see. With the extent of my knowledge about flamenco being pretty much the dancing lady emoji and the sounds of fervent stomping and complex guitar riffs coming from the rehearsal room of the Fountain that week, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I certainly could not have anticipated the raw passion and artistic skill that I saw in each of those performers. What I found to be most striking about watching these flamenco musicians and dancers was that each one of them seemed so happy to be there. They were all doing what they loved most, with a group of artists that understood that passion. 

FORD 2016 prod photo 1

On top of that, I could feel the excitement and joy in the crowd around me throughout the show. During each number, the audience would interject with enthusiastic applause, clapping, and excited cheers. Families around me grabbed each other’s shoulders and clasped each other’s hands as they shouted encouragements to the musicians and the dancers as they did what they do best, and I truly felt like I was experiencing a new community full of joy, passion, and celebration. It was a truly unique and amazing experience. 

I am so grateful to everyone at the Fountain, as well as the fantastic team of flamenco artists, for introducing me to the beautiful community of flamenco. I certainly hope I’m able to witness something like this again in my life.

Victoria Montecillo is the Fountain Theatre’s 2016 Summer Arts Intern. We thank the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for their support. 

Marina Valiente heats up Forever Flamenco at the intimate Fountain Theatre

Marina

Dancer Marina Valiente

Sunday night ignited another red-hot evening of Forever Flamenco at the Fountain when artistic director Gerardo Morales led a company of world-class artists in our intimate venue in a concert titled ‘Sevilla a Los Angeles.’ Dancers Marina Valiente and Timo Nunez passionately performed to the guitar of Gabriel Osuna and Jesus Montoya‘s soulful singing. Mateo Amper added his artistry on piano.  The sold-out concert was produced by Deborah Lawlor and James Bennett.    

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For more than 25 years, the Fountain Theatre has produced world-class flamenco in its intimate home on Fountain Avenue and every summer in the 1200-seat outdoor Ford Theatre.  Don’t miss this summer’s extraordinary Forever Flamenco at the Ford on July 23rd. It’s LA’s hottest flamenco night of the year! 

Sunday night proved why Forever Flamenco at the Fountain was recently hailed in Tvolution magazine as “the best ticket in town.” Ole! 

Forever Flamenco (323) 663-1525 More Info

‘Forever Flamenco’ at the Fountain Theatre is the best ticket in town

Marina Valiente

Marina Valiente

by Ernest Kearney 

Well once again you have the opportunity of experiencing one of the true treats of L.A.

Sunday, May 22 8pm – Forever Flamenco.

Why do I keep urging you to get down to the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood and partake in this monthly series?

What makes Flamenco so special, you ask?

Well, all right, since you asked –

It is the nature of all life to evolve. From the nascent state we develop until the fullness of our potential is obtained or the natural limitations of our species reached. One can disagree and debate the question of potential-limitation, but not that the ultimate stage bears slight similitude to that of the inception stage.

In a fashion, the babe is lost to the child, the child to the youth, the youth to the adult.

It is true of art forms that they evolve from a primal form, developing intellectual dimensions artistic frameworks. The loss of a certain primal intensity is payment for that progression.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful, I know, so let ‘s put forth some illustrations.

Pliny the Elder reports that Zeuxis, a Greek painter of the 5th century B.C.E., would have guests try to eat the grapes painted on his canvases. And that Parrhasios, a fellow artist of Zeuxis, invited him to view a new work covered over by a lace curtain. When Zeuxis went to lift the lace curtain he found it was part of the painting.

The 13th century Italian artist Giotto liked to paint little flies on his works then watch patrons try to shoo them.

In 1849 twenty to thirty thousand rioting New Yorkers confronted the National Guard troops called up to re-establish order resulting in more than thirty deaths. The cause of their uprising? A production of Shakespeare.

When J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World premiered it too caused a riot, though not nearly as bloody.

Timo

Timo Nunez

My passion for theatre knows no bounds, but sadly, I’m reduced to imagining what the state of catharsis must have been like to reduce an ancient Greek audience to a sobbing mass incapable of speech, or what passion could be played upon to plunge me into a frenzy of rioting.

When the raw throbbing notes of jazz was first heard it threw some into wild paroxysms. Decent women fainted.

The same can be said of rock and roll and even rap.

Once, not very long ago, the experience of rap was felt by some as less “music” than throbbing hammer blows of anger, rage and revolt.

Now, Ice-T does pamper commercials and you can hear “Fuck the Police” as muzak while waiting in line to make a deposit at Bank of America.

Edwin S. Porter’s 1903 The Great Train Robbery, one of the first film “works” to employ editing in the telling of its story, concludes with one of the robbers on the screen pointing his gun at the audience and firing.

When first shown, members of the audience dived under their seats.

Film, the youngest of arts, has all but lost that quality that permitted those engaging in it to be engulfed by its artifact, transported by its manufactured illusion.

The exception that tests the rule here being Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, a 2 hour, 6 minute Christian stuff film with only 16 torture free minutes of which 2 minutes were taken up by the resurrection and none to the tenets of Jesus’ teaching. 

Whatever forms the creative imperative embodies, the accretion of artistry infuses accessibilty but defuses the ascendancy of the incipient urging behind the creative act.

Forever Flamenco_Gabriel-Osuna

Gabriel Osuna

Art, like the Titan Antaeus is robbed of its strength when removed from the soil that is its mother.

Flamenco, I find, still has a fast grip to the dark and tragic history, the pain and passion that was the life breath of the cante jondo, the traditional “deep song.”

In the sound of Flamenco, the fury of its dance, we have echoes from the dark corners of the human soul as profound today as they were three centuries ago.

Nowhere will the sorrow and joy of the human condition find expression with more sublime defiance than in the music and dance of flamenco.

Deborah Lawlor, for one Sunday every month, has lured world class talent to a small corner of Hollywood with the Forever Flamenco series at The Fountain Theatre.

Scheduled to appear at the next performance on Sunday May 22nd at 8:30: Gabriel Osuna will be the evening’s guitarist. Osuna plays with garra, meaning “guts” or “vitality.” Evidence of this is found if you examine his fingers which he coats in Super Glue to give the tips added protection.

Mateo Amper will be at the piano and Gerardo Morales is the featured percussionist as well as the evening’s director.

If these three musicians were matched in a battle of the bands with any philharmonic orchestra in the country, when it was over, it wouldn’t be the ones in tuxes wearing the laurels.

Dancer Timo Nuñez is a melding of grace and raw power who is stunning to watch.

Singer Jesus Montoya is another familiar face in the series, who fills every note he sings with such emotional power it could make bricks weep.

Marina Valiente will be making her debut at the Fountain. I am confident it will be a debut very worth seeing.

I know, I said it before. Well guess what? I’m saying it again: Forever Flamenco – The best tickets in LA. Click 

Ernest Kearney is an award winning L.A. playwright and freelance writer. This post originally appeared in The Tvolution.

Forever Flamenco heats up the westside with ‘Luz Y Sombra’ led by Gabriel Osuna on Feb 21

Forever Flamenco_Gabriel-Osuna

Gabriel Osuna

Because of the set design for our current hit play Dream Catcher, this month’s Forever Flamenco returns to West L.A. as guest production at the Odyssey Theatre on Sunday, February 21st at 8pm.

Journey from the traditional roots of flamenco to experimental projects featuring mixes from Osuna Productions. Under the artistic direction of guitarist Gabriel Osuna, the evening will feature dancers Vanessa Albalos and Briseyda Zarate; singer Vicente Griego; percussionist Gerardo Morales on the cajon; and guitarists Osuna and José Tanaka. The Los Angeles Times hails the series as “the earth and fire of first-class flamenco,” and LA Splash says, “Being the sensual, intimate art form that it is… the way you feel when you walk out of a Forever Flamenco performance is pretty darn fabulous.”

Forever Flamenco is produced by Deborah Lawlor and James Bennett. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard, LA, CA 90025

More Info/Get Tickets

Roberto Amaral to be Honored at ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Gala Concert Aug 9

Roberto Amaral (Ford Amphitheatre, 2009)

Roberto Amaral (Ford Amphitheatre, 2009)

This Saturday night, August 9th, the Fountain Theatre honors LA flamenco pioneer Roberto Amaral at our Forever Flamenco at the Ford  gala concert at the beautiful Ford Amphitheatre in the Hollywood Hills. Lontime dancer, choreographer and teacher Amaral was instrumental in first launching our flamenco program at the Fountain with Deborah Lawlor more than 20 years ago.   

“Roberto is a flamenco visionary with a trademark style,” comments Forever Flamenco producer Deborah Lawlor. “As he continually strives to find new and refreshing approaches to the form, he has also found an enormous sense of gratification and pride in his dedication to teach and mentor others. Many of his former students and protégés have gone on to become stars in their own right.”

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

Roberto Amaral began his professional career at the age of 17 and has since achieved worldwide acclaim as a dancer, choreographer, singer, composer, artist and master teacher. From 1968 through 1976, he enjoyed success as principal dancer and guest artist with many of the world’s foremost Spanish dance companies, touring extensively with the companies of José Greco, José Antonio, Ciro, Alberto Lorca, Rafael de Cordoba and Antonio Ruiz. Also during this early period of his career, he laid groundbreaking musical history as co-founder, co-lead vocalist, writer, arranger and choreographer of the legendary band CARMEN. It was the first musical group to ever combine flamenco with rock/pop music, both audibly and visually, performing alongside such musical luminaries as David Bowie, Jethro Tull, ELO and Santana. For television, Roberto has been a featured dancer and choreographer on numerous programs, including The Academy Awards (twice), The Tonight Show,The Barry Manilow Special and the Madrid-based Antología de la Zarzuela. He is the recipient of an EMMY Award for his collaboration with choreographer Walter Painter on the television special Lynda Carter’s Celebration. He has founded several critically acclaimed dance companies, including Danzas de España, Ballet Español de Los Ángeles, España Clásica and Fuego Flamenco — each of which has influenced the pulse of flamenco and classical Spanish dance in Southern California — and he has produced, choreographed  and designed over 500 dance solos, ensemble pieces, flamenco ballets, conceptual suites and production numbers.  In his nearly 50 year career, Roberto has been privileged to perform in many of the world’s great concert halls, theaters, arenas and nightclubs, including the Hollywood Bowl, Greek Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace, Sahara and Hilton International. In Europe he has performed at London’s Victoria Theatre, Paris’ Olympia Theatre, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, Madrid’s Teatro de La Zarzuela and Milan’s La Scala Opera House.

The Fountain’s Forever Flamenco series has been called “the city’s preeminent flamenco series” by the Los Angeles Times and “L.A.’s most significant venue for flamenco” by the LA Weekly.Working Authordesignates it “the rarest of treats… for both connoisseur and novice alike, ‘Forever Flamenco’ offers the opportunity to luxuriate in the incendiary passions of flamenco.” Dance writer Debra Levine says, “Performances feature superb gypsy guitarists and singers. Do you enjoy seeing the body in spellbinding motion? Great artistic individuality? Live music? Then go,” and Stage and Cinema’s Tony Frankel writes, “Thrilling, sexy and sensuous.”

Forever Flamenco at the Ford will celebrate Amaral’s seminal 49-year career with performances by dancers Fanny Ara, Manuel Gutiérrez, Pamela Lourant, Timo Nuñez, Rocio PonceMizuho Sato, Yaelisa, Alexandra & Ryan Zermeño; singers Antonio de Jerez and Jesus Montoya; guitarists Adam del Monte, Jason McGuireEl Rubio,” José Tanaka and Antonio Triana; and percussionist Joey Heredia.

To Order tickets: FordTheatres.org

Passionate Star Power Lights Up ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ on Aug 9

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Mizuho Sato (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

by Ernest Kearney

Those who frequent my site will be well aquainted with my boundless enthusiasm for the “Forever Flamenco!” series presented monthly at the Fountain Theatre. If you’d care to see from where this passion first arose, then your chance is coming. “Forever Flamenco!”, the once a year“Juerga”, returns to the Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 9th.

For those never exposed to flamenco this is an opportunity of the rarest sort. Imagine attending a single night at the theatre and being treated to the talents of Olivier, Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. Or imagine going to a concert and seeing on the same stage Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, The Stones, Kurt Cobain, Lady GaGa and Chuck Berry.

This is what “Forever Flamenco! at the Ford” offers: a gathering of the greatest artists across the generations.

Manuel_Gutierrez

Manuel Gutierrez (photo by Bruce Bisenz)

Among those featured this year will be Manuel Gutiérrez, who began dancing flamenco at the age of four and was winning flamenco dance competitions by eight. Gutiérrez is the soul of “coraje” or spontaneity and to watch him perform is to realize that nothing expresses the masculine vigor in dance as flamenco does. You come to believe that when he dances the world must tremble under his feet.

Yaelisa is a dancer who can stake out a small portion of the stage and through her “cierre” (dance steps) bring forth a “desgarro”, “wildness” that is a tempest of tempo.

Mizuho Sato is a Japanese-born dancer and a testament to the global appeal of flamenco. When she comes on stage be prepared for magic.

Jason McGuire, “El Rubio”, does not “play” the guitar – he dominates it, and performs with the dynamism you’d expect of “The Big Bang”.

Yaelisa_Jason_Two

Yaelisa and Jason McGuire

Cantaor Antonio de Jerez is a talent one feels grateful for having seen. When singing, one hears the history of Spain in his voice.

Nowhere can you find grace more infused with power, nor the sorrow of the human condition expressed with greater perfection than in the music and dance of flamenco. All art forms evolved outward from ancient origins, and, sadly, in that process which serves to define their artistry that primal potency, the intensity of their source, is lost.

Not so with flamenco. It has held onto its dark and tragic history, and that pain which breathes life into the cante jondo, the grand song, is as profound today as it was three centuries ago.

Roberto Amaral

Roberto Amaral (photo by Sari Makki Phillips)

This year’s audience is also gathering to pay homage to one of flamenco’s most esteemed figures Roberto Amaral. In a career spanning half a century, Amaral has excelled in every facet of flamenco – dancer, singer, choreographer, composer and teacher.

He has performed with the greats of flamenco such as José Greco and José Antonio as well as Santana, Jethro Tull and David Bowie.

The Ford’s open air stage, with the stars on display above, makes it the perfect venue for an evening profuse with this city’s rich history, for The flamenco baile (dance) and cante (song) were part of California dating back to the 1700’s and the ranchos of the Spanish crown. The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre was originally built in 1920, by author and playwright Christine Wetherill Stevenson who saw the rugged beauty of the Cahuenga Pass as the ideal setting for her “The Pilgrimage Play”, a work on the life of Jesus “transcribed from the Scriptures”.

The play was performed there yearly until the original wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1929. In 1931 the structure was rebuilt, designed in the style of “ancient Judaic architecture”. Though “The Pilgrimage Play” performances were ended in 1964, the Ford Amphitheatre continues to resemble the gates of ancient Jerusalem.

Antonio Triana

Antonio Triana

The LA Weekly has hailed this event as “the rarest of treats…for both connoisseur and novice”, and I couldn’t agree more. But where they call the Fountain Theatre’s Forever Flamenco! series “L.A.’s most significant venue for flamenco”, I say rather, it is flamenco’s most significant venue in all of North America. With the Ford show, the most diverse and cosmopolitan audience in the world is given the opportunity of experiencing not just the star of flamenco, but its legends.

Forever Flamenco at the Ford SAT AUG 9th (323) 461-3673

‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Dancers Take Center Stage in New Episode of TV’s ‘Eye on LA’

On location at The Ford for the TV shoot.

On location at The Ford for the TV shoot.

TV Episode to air Sat July 26 at 6:30pm on KABC-TV

Lights! Camera! Action! Two dancers from our upcoming Forever Flamenco at the Ford  will be featured on an upcoming TV episode of Eye On LA. Flamenco dancers Alexandra Zermeno and Ryan Zermeno taped the episode on the outdoor stage at the Ford Amphitheater on Friday, July 11, with Eye on LA host and senior producer Tina Malave.  The Forever Flamenco at the Ford episode of Eye on LA airs Saturday, July 26th, at 6:30pm on ABC channel 7 in Los Angeles. 

The popular TV program highlights new and exciting things to see and do in Los Angeles.  This new recently-shot TV segment highlights our thrilling Forever Flamenco at the Ford on Saturday, Aug 9th, celebrating flamenco in Los Angeles and honoring LA flamenco pioneer Roberto Amaral.   

Alexandra and Ryan Zermeno had a great time shooting the TV episode on stage at the Ford. Emmy-winning TV host Tina Malave was charming with a playful zest for fun, dressed in flamenco dance attire. Alexandra showed Tina some basic dance steps and hand/arm movements. Tina did her best with her own enthusiastic flair and good-natured spirit.  Fun was had by all. Alexandra and Ryan were able to share with Tina their excitement about appearing on stage with the all-star flamenco line-up at the Ford on Aug 9th.  

Forever Flamenco at the Ford is the most prestigious flamenco event of the year in Los Angeles. International, national and local artists come to the Ford to perform in this magical one-night event. And audiences flock in from all over the region to savor the passion of the art form and the beauty of the gorgeous outdoor venue on a warm summer night.

Last year’s Flamenco Gala sold out. This year’s event is already selling fast. Get tickets at FordTheatres.org or call 323-GO-1-FORD (323-461-3673.  For VIP Tickets (the best seats in the best section, includes private catered reception) call the Fountain Theatre at (323) 663-1525 or go to FountainTheatre.com  

Photos from the ‘Eye on LA’ TV Shoot

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