Tacomans have a rare opportunity Feb. 17 to experience an art form seldom seen in these parts – flamenco. And this is the real deal, featuring accomplished artists from Spain coming to T-Town for one night only.
Local flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes is organizing and presenting the evening, and she will perform as well along with these special guests: singer (al cante) Vicente Griego, “El Cartucho,” guitarist (al toque) Juan Antonio Gomez and dancer (al baile) Adriana Maresma-Fois. A humble woman with great respect for those who commit their life to the art of flamenco, Fuentes said she is honored to be in the company those who will perform with her. “I am very honored to be working with such accomplished artists; it is an opportunity for me to learn.”
A student of flamenco for 13 years (according to Fuentes, flamenco is a never ending class) she is excited to continue her mission of bringing authentic flamenco to the masses. “I always do my best to try and expose flamenco to people who wouldn’t normally see it,” she said.
“People may have preconceptions about flamenco, and I’m hoping to break those with these artists. It’s really an experience; it covers that full spectrum of human emotion – it’s intense. Good flamenco can make you cry.”
This will be Fuentes’ third show in Tacoma and she has had success at all of them. New Frontier Lounge has been her venue of choice, its intimate atmosphere a perfect complement to the passion flowing from the performers to the audience. “I’m really thankful to the owner, Neil (Harris),” Fuentes said. “It’s really about the art, and he sees that.”
Flamenco is made up of three components. The first and foremost is singing, or cante in Spanish. “It’s the soul,” Fuentes explained, noting that it is rare to find skilled flamenco singers in America. “I feel a person is born to do that, born with that voice. The singing is what fuels me and drives me as a dancer.” The second component, guitar, came in to accompany the singer then someone started dancing to the rhythmic music. “This is the foundation of how it all works,” Fuentes said. Quick, staccato clapping is also a big part of flamenco’s fiery sound.
Fuentes discovered flamenco in Seattle with dancer Ana Montes. She continued her studies in Madrid at the famed Amor de Dios school with teachers such as La Tati, Cristobal Reyes and Belen Maya. Upon her return to Seattle, Fuentes began her studies with Maestra Sara de Luis, who blessed Fuentes with years of expert training and advice. Fuentes performs throughout the Northwest most notably with cantaor (singer) Vicente Griego, “El Cartucho,” with whom she has learned a great deal.
Griego, who lives in New Mexico, has received much praise for his deep voice that seems to come from someplace within his soul. He has devoted his life to the study of cante flamenco, the art of flamenco singing. In 1992, he began touring the United States, Canada and Latin America with the Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company, where he was mentored by Caño Roto singer Alfonso “Veneno” of Madrid, Spain. Griego remains a pupil of acclaimed guitarist Chuscales and continues to accompany internationally renowned companies such as Yjastros, Juan Siddi Flamenco Company, Carola Zertuche’s Teatro Flamenco, Martinez’ Pueblo Viejo, Fanny Ara, Jesus Montoya y Pureza Flamenca and Encuentro, to name a few.
Born in Spain where he continues to reside, Juan Antonio Gomez began studying flamenco guitar at 9 years of age, and performed in his first international tour at age 11 with the group Gaditano Raiz in France. This was the beginning of many professional opportunities with great flamenco artists and companies, touring throughout Europe, South America and North America. Gomez has played for many wonderful cantaores (singers). In 2000, during the Festival de Flamenco de Jerez, he realized a huge dream working with the great bailaor (dancer) Joaquin Grilo in the production of “Jacara,” which later toured for one year throughout Spain. This same year he also collaborated with the internationally known dancer Javier Baron.
From 2001 to the present, Gomez has been first guitarist and composer for the company Flamencos Enroute, based in Switzerland, which performs in theaters throughout Europe.
Bailaora (dancer), choreographer and instructor, Adriana Maresma-Fois’s unique fire and elegance have marked her style and personality as a world-class flamenco dancer. Her impassioned performances and choreographies have conquered stages throughout North and South America, Asia and Europe including New York City’s Metropolitan Opera, Lisboa’s Gran Casino, Vancouver’s Flamenco Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Andalucia Directo Television (Spain), Milan’s Teatro Litta (Italy) and Zurich Teatrehaus. She has been a soloist for the company Flamencos Enroute, based in Switzerland, for the last eight years, and co-founded her own company, El Amor Brujo, based in Italy. She received her bachelor’s degree in photography and dance from the University of New Mexico. She has continued growing as a professional studying in Spain at Madrid, Sevilla and Jerez (where she resides now).