Everybody Do the Flamenco!
Clap. Clap, clap. Snap, clap, clap, snap. As if one can keep up with the fast acoustic guitar and powerful voice echoing through the intimate venue, a packed Electric Lodge Theater must also concentrate on the flamenco dancing of Rina Orellana.
As the clicking of her shoes reverberates throughout the small theater, many cannot see the shoes that are making the rapid noise for two reasons. The first reason being that every head in the house is filling every available viewing window, but the second reason is truly startling.
Her feet are moving too fast to see.
On a small side street in Venice at the Electric Lodge Theater, the Flamenco Project offers viewers a mix of both the current as well as the traditional in flamenco music and dance. The debut of the quarterly Flamenco Project this past Sunday, Oct. 5 consisted of a two hour performance ranging from the flamenco dancing of artistic director and dancer Rina Orellana coupled with captivating singing of Jesus Montoya to a rapid-fire duet between guitarist Kai Narezo and percussionist Joey Heredia.
Also present was fellow flamenco dancer Kerensa DeMars, who with Orellana performed in a final piece that commandingly placed an exclamation point on the night's festivities.
Both flamenco dance and music, known for audible footwork and quick musical passages, were accentuated at the Electric Lodge Theater not only by the performance of the Flamenco Project, but also by the theater itself.
From the inside and out, the theater appears to be an office building, but after being led up a flight of stairs to a set of heavy, brown doors, the theater almost seems like a well-kept secret, seating less than 100 people but offering one of the most up-close and intimate viewing experiences available. With this intimacy in mind, the Flamenco Project contained moments that made it appear one had entered another world walking through the heavy, brown doors. The singing of Jesus Montoya, a gypsy flamenco singer and composer native to Seville, Spain, sang with such strength that in his most emotional moments, one could feel the hair stand on end, regardless of any language barrier.
Paced like a rollercoaster ride, the up-and-down, calm-and-intense performances almost appeared ad-libbed, as if each piece was individualized for the audience, with the drumming of percussionist Joey Heredia building impressively in skill until culminating in his duet with Kai Narezo, who in playing guitar seemed to foil Montoya's deep singing with a unique style that, while filled with emotion, coupled well with Montoya as well as Heredia in every instance.
In society, when one makes a final attempt to impress, it's referred to as "pulling out the big guns." In flamenco dancing, it is probably referred to as "pulling out the big dress."
To the "ohhs" and "ahhs" of the crowd. Artistic director and dancer Orellana emerged from a side curtain, only to be wearing a long, flowing flamenco dress, contrasting from the shorter blue dress she had worn for most of the performance. Scarlet red, the dress embodied not only Orellana's Flamenco Project, but also the concept of both modern and traditional flamenco as well, embedded deeply with passion and energy only years of work could create.