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Gala Flamenca Brings Greatest Stars of Flamenco to Philadelphia

Photo: Yi-Chun Wu, courtesy of The Esplanade Co Ltd

Under the direction of Angel Rojas, Gala Flamenca brings together four of the world´s most celebrated flamenco dancers for Merriam Theater debut on Sunday, March 2 at 7 p.m. This fiery, spirited performance is a showcase of the best modern flamenco with dancers, guitarists and singers joining on stage for new interpretations of this art form.

The program features the master of flamenco, Antonio Canales, one of Spain’s most powerful flamenco dancers of all times, the unforgettable choreography of Nuevo Ballet Español Carlos Rodríguez, Karime Amaya, grandniece of legendary Carmen Amaya, and the sensationally beautiful and riveting performer of the young starlet, Jesús Carmona.

Karime Amaya

Tickets are available from $35 to $62 at kimmelcenter.org, 215-893-1999, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office located on Broad and Spruce streets, Philadelphia, Pa. (open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., later on performance evenings).

Antonio Canales is one of Spain’s most celebrated flamenco dancers, having received the Medal of Andalusia, his homeland and genesis of the original flamenco art form.  He began his formal studies at the National Ballet of Spain.  After joining the company of Maguy Marin in Paris, he became an internationally heralded talent and headlined over fifty performances with talented performers such as R. Nureyev and Maya Plisetskaya.  Canales has won numerous awards through the years, some of which include the Navisela award in Italy for best dancer in 1988, the Best International Dancer prize in Mexico with Julio Bocca in 1990, the National Award for Dance in 1995 after premiering his show, Torero, in Montreal Canada and then in Madrid, Spain, where it was performed more than 1,000 occasions in 1994. He has created numerous works, teaming with the Caltan stage designer Lluis Pasqual to present Bengues in the Madrid Autumn Festival, and creating Grito, a commission from the National Ballet of Spain, which premiered in New York’s City Centre.  In 1999 he opened the school that bore his name, Fuerza Latina in Avila, the same year he received the Max Award for best dance performer and filmed the movie Vengo. He has performed with flamenco giants such as Paco de Lucia, Tomatito and Eva Yerbabuena. More recently, he presented his personal version of The House of Bernarda Alba, the timeless play written by Federico Garcia Lorca (2009). In the last few years, Canales has worked in Guanajuato, Mexico participating in events related to the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence.

Dancer and choreographer Carlos Rodríguez’s career took off at the age of 13, when he  reached the Spanish National Ballet’s final auditions. As a youth he also performed with Ballet Teatro Español under the direction of Luisillo, with Ballet Español de Madrid under the direction of José Granero, and with the Zambra Ballet.  In 1994, he won the award for the most outstanding dancer at the Certámen Nacional de Coreografía de Danza Española with Rojas.  Partly born of his drive to innovate within flamenco, he co-created the Nuevo Ballet Español in 1995 with Rojas, and their company’s performances have been responsible for attracting a whole new audience to flamenco.  Currently, Rojas and Rodriguez have premiered their latest work, El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician), from the compositor Manuel Falla with the participation of well-known dancing stars as Antonio Canales, Lola Greco and Chevi Muraday, among others.

Born into a family deeply rooted in flamenco tradition, Karime Amaya is no stranger to the stage; she is grandniece of legendary flamenco dancer, Carmen Amaya. Daughter of the bailaora Mercedes Amaya, “La Winy” and guitarist Santiago Aguilar, she made her debut in her parents’ troupe when she was nine years-old.  In 2003, she performed at the Arts Presenters’ 46th annual members conference in New York, and in 2004 she performed a successful six month season in Japan at Tokyo’s most prestigious tablao (flamenco venue) “EI Flamenco.”  In 2006, she went on a tour with the bailaor Juan de Juan as a guest artist on the show Frente a Frente, touring more than 30 cities of the Iberian Peninsula.  More recently, she premiered the show Amaya Linaje in 2011 with her family, an authentic portrayal of the artistic values found one of the great family sagas the flamenco has given. In February 2012, she successfully performed her show “Desde Ia Orilla” at the Jerez festival. The same year, Joaquín Cortés, invited her to be part of his new show “Dicen de mi,” which premiered in Madrid to sold out audiences from  December 14 to January 6, 2013.

Jesus Carmona
Photo: Yi-Chun Wu, courtesy of The Esplanade Co Ltd

Jesús Carmona made his professional debut at the Teatro Zorrilla with the Orchestra of the Teatro Liceu in Barcelona at the early age of 16.  From then, his career took off, leading him to work with diverse companies such as Ballet Nacional de España as First Dancer.  In 2012, Carmona was awarded with the prestigious First Dance Award at the 52nd Festival de cante de las Minas de la Union.  His desire to show his personal side and pave his way into the arts more broadly led him to leave the National Ballet of Spain in 2012 to embark on a new adventure, “Black and white crib.” The show was a critical and audience success at the Bienal de Sevilla 2012, Madrid en Danza 2012 and Festival de Jerez 2013.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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