Tag Archives: Spain

Meet ‘Forever Flamenco at the Ford’ Dancer Maria Bermudez: “I aspire to inspire, until I expire.”

I grew up with flamenco in the background of my childhood. My older brother Alfonso was bit by the flamenco bug after seeing his first flamenco show passing through town; that was it for him. He went on to study with the masters in Spain and became a promising flamenco dancer. Alfonso danced with an exquisite sensitivity. I believe dance was an escape for him. He was a gay man—not an easy situation in our household. He suffered on many levels. The freedom that flamenco – that art– brings to your life; it’s a place of sanctuary.

Alfonso’s life was cut short.  He succumbed to cancer at the age of 27 and died two years later. I was 16 years old. My interest was also in the arts but as an actor and singer. After his passing I suddenly wanted to study Flamenco. It was as though Alfonso wanted… needed to continue dancing and I became his vessel. All who knew him would say the love of his life was his dancing.

Maria B hands 2011I became obsessed with the art form and after only six months of preparation, I packed my bags and was off to Spain to learn to dance. Or so I thought. I discovered I needed to go much further and deeper, metaphorically and literally, to the place, the source of flamenco. This took me to the deep south of Spain, to gypsy territory, a place I have called home for the last 20 years.
 
This journey, which I am still on, has been full of heart aching challenges and absolutely gratifying moments of triumph. From being treated as an outsider to falling in love with a gypsy and then marrying him. But drip of sweat by drip of sweat, I began winning respect through my dedication and total immersion into the culture.

The amount of emotion involved in flamenco is unparalleled. I feel the freedom of expression through the cry of the singers and the music and through the beauty of the dance. It’s euphoric! The best part is the audience’s connection with flamenco on levels unexpected to them. The response is always love, love, love! It’s all worth it.

Flamenco continues to be the source of my inspiration in life. There is a universal cry that we all can relate to — maybe we all have a gypsy spirit in us.  

I aspire to inspire, until I expire.  

— Maria “ChaCha” Bermudez

Forever Flamenco at the Ford  Saturday, June 15 (323) 461-3673 MORE

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The Passion of Flamenco Star Maria Bermudez

She grew up in East L.A., a Chicana with fiery passion and intense musical talent. Eighteen years ago she moved to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, to study Flamenco. Today, her critically acclaimed performances have graced the stages of prominent venues throughout the world, including the Hollywood Bowl and the John Anson Ford Theatre in Los Angeles, The Joyce Theater and Lincoln Center in New York, Festival de Beaucaire in France, and the Teatro Villamarta in Spain as part of the prestigious Festival Flamenco de Jerez.  She was honored in 2002 by the City of Jerez for her relentless dedication to the artistry of the region.

She is internationally acclaimed performer Maria Bermudez, also known as “La Cha Cha”.

This weekend, you can experience the thrilling  “La Cha Cha” in a rare L.A. appearance, Maria Bermudez & Friends, October 30, 2011 at Barnsdall’s Gallery Theatre. Friends joining her on stage  include one of her Spanish company members, “palmero” (hand-clapper) Luis de la Tota, and some of the very best U.S.-based flamenco artists including dancer Manual de la Cruz; singers Kina Mendez and José Cortes; guitarists Adam del Monte, Kai Nazero and famed bassist Reggie Hamilton; and celebrated percussionist Joey Heredia. This performance is a Special Flamenco Event.

Maria has been an important part of the Fountain’s Flamenco Family from the very beginning. After performing many years at the Fountain and in Fountain concerts at the 1200-seat John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Maria moved to Jerez (Spain’s “City of Flamenco”)  to deepen her study and master her artistry. There she formed her own company, Sonidos Gitanos, touring worldwide as lead dancer and artistic director.

She formed Chicana Gypsy Project in 2007, drawing on her rich Mexican-American heritage and immersion in Gypsy culture. Combining her jazz-flavored voice with her earthy, sensuous Flamenco dancing, Maria creates a thrilling new art experience uniquely her own.    She is married to El Pele, of the group Navajita Plateao (Gypsy Rock).

Maria began studying flamenco dance after the untimely death of her beloved and talented brother, Alfonso Bermudez. The unique and compelling story of how this beautiful, talented Chicana from Los Angeles moved to Spain many years ago and developed from a hungry young flamenco dancer from East L.A.  into a world-renowned flamenco sensation accepted by the Gypsy community in Jerez inspired an award-winning documentary film “Streets of Flamenco”.

One of the top Flamenco artists in the world today, and a dear friend of the Fountain for twenty years. Once you see Maria burn up the stage, you remember it forever. Ole!

Maria Bermudez & FriendsSunday Oct 30 at 8pm, at The Gallery Theatre at Barnsdall Park. (323) 663-1525   Get Tickets Now