Flamenco. The word evokes luscious images of long ruffled skirts, strumming guitars, vibrant footwork, and of course Spain. Feel free to add South Florida to that list. South Florida will be a hub of flamenco activity July 23 through August 6, during Flamenco in the Sun 2005, a festival of performances and workshops that draws flamenco aficionados from various parts of the globe. Among them are professional flamenco dancers and musicians from Spain, as well as South Florida.
Bailes Ferrer, a Broward-based professional flamenco company established by Damaris Ferrer in 1995, takes the spotlight for shows on July 30 at Manuel Artime Theater (900 SW First St., Miami) and July 31 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (210 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Guest dancers and musicians from Spain and Washington, D.C., join the locals onstage to showcase a range of flamenco styles from traditional to modern.
For the solos, duets, and ensembles, costumes appropriately accent the different flamenco styles. Some feature female dancers wearing traditional flowing, swirling skirts and their hair pulled back into tidy buns. In contemporary pieces, dancers don formfitting, asymmetrical dresses.
During flamenco performances, musicians often are directly onstage with the singers and dancers, involving a sometimes choreographed, sometimes improvised interplay between music, voice, and dance. "It's very alive,'' says Damaris Ferrer, artistic director at Bailes Ferrer. "It is a true art form. There is an elegance to it. There is a history to it." And it reels in the fans, she says. Those who try flamenco usually want more. "You'll be hooked,'' she adds.
In another concert, Spanish flamenco musicians Son de la Frontera offer a distinctive flavor and musical fusion as they incorporate the Cuban tres, a stringed instrument, into the mix, according to Niurca Marquez, a dancer with the Bailes Ferrer company and executive director of FUNDarte, a nonprofit Miami organization.
For those not content to simply sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds, the festival also includes an array of workshops. Lessons, which run for five days, both in Broward and Miami-Dade, are available for students at different levels of ability. Some are designed specifically for beginners and children. The selection includes vocal training, guitar, dance, and percussion. Another workshop looks at how flamenco is portrayed in video.
This third annual Flamenco in the Sun event is presented by Miami Dade College's Department of Cultural Affairs, along with Bailes Ferrer and FUNDarte. Michelle Heffner Hayes, executive director of the college's Department of Cultural Affairs, says, "We want to nurture the local flamenco environment by bringing in these very exciting young artists to challenge and to educate."