World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Caminos Flamencos

First Appearance in SF EDF:

Caminos Flamencos was founded in the mid-1990s to promote and present both innovative and traditional creations representing the past, present, and future of flamenco. Artistic director Yaelisa is also director and co-founder of the New World Flamenco Festival. A second generation flamenco artist, Yaelisa has won an Emmy, an Isadora Duncan Dance Award, and ABC 7’s “Profiles in Excellence” Hispanic leadership award. Jason McGuire “El Rubio” is the award winning musical director for Caminos Flamencos and the New World Flamenco Festival.


TITLE: Caminando a Zaafra
SOLOISTS: Fanny Ara, Melissa Cruz, Marina Elana
Damien Alvarez, Paloma Aspe, Alexis Davis, Kymm Haggar, Laura Hanks, Kelly Kovanis, Devon LaRussa, Larraine Leitz, Leslie MacArthur, Ruby Moyoli, Veronica Rodriguez, Holly Shaw, Lauren Smiley, Patricia Wilson
  Jason McGuire “El Rubio” (cajón), Kina Mendez (vocals)

Caminando a Zaafra—Walking to Zaafra, begins with a contemporary flamenco number, choreographed for the stage. Then the dancers begin to sing in unison, as they walk down a Spanish road—

Camino la feria Zaafra
caminanan dos Extremeñas
van vendiendo sus canastas

Traveling to the Zaafra fair
are walking two women from Extremeña
to sell their baskets

—and they sing themselves into the past, into the small town of Zaafra, where the feeling is decidedly different. In friendship and close community, the dancers transition to the traditional flamenco form. Graceful dance, zapateado footwork, clapping of palmas, and cante song are all improvised on the spot. The result is an intimate conversation between melody and movement, dancer, singer, musician, and audience. The spontaneity and passion of this performance speaks to flamenco’s origins. The dance developed as a form of soulful protest among Spain’s fifteenth century marginalized communities of Romani, Sephardic, Byzantine, Spanish, and Moors.

Caminando a Zaafra is performed in the style of jaleo extremeños from Extremadura in western Spain. Poor and sparsely populated, Extremadura is known for its flamenco and tango and for a relatively large population of Roma people. Jaleos Extremeños is an archaic song style that is not usually danced. Its songs have resurfaced among the region’s Romani singers, and have been popularized by Porrina de Badajoz, Ramon Porrina “El Portugese”, and Guadiana. The songs are party songs usually accompanied by palm-clapping and cries of encouragement and admiration— with lyrics about love, working, traveling, and being together in family. The style is related to the palo bulería, with a monotone cadence and a relaxed 12-beat scheme with 6-beat and 3-beat sections. In this piece, the dancers sing together, unusual in flamenco performance.

Yaelisa choreographed the piece, with soloists creating their parts. Jason McGuire “El Rubio,” accompanies on cajón, a traditional box instrument. Special guest singer Kina Mendez is from the Mendez dynasty of flamencos in Jerez, Spain: she carries a long tradition.


TITLE: Contratiempo…A La Luz De La Luna
Artistic Directors: Jason “El Rubio” McGuire, Yaelisa
Choreographer/Dancer: Yaelisa
Melissa Cruz (palmas), Jason “El Rubio” McGuire (guitar) 

The evocative rondeña is danced in a libre (free) style with a rhythmical structure, and its lyrical interpretation suggests a feeling of melancholy and brooding. The style was first created by guitarist and composer Ramón Montoya in the 1930s from a spiritual inspiration: he was moved by the pealing of church bells in Ronda, and wanted to mimic the mystical sound.  

An eloquent trio of dancer, guitarist, and palmista performs a rondeña in the style of Ramón Montoya, set to music by Jason “El Rubio” McGuire. Yaelisa's original choreography features percussive footwork and a poetic story of inspiration. The performance begins with a lyrical duet between dancer and guitarist; then the performance quickens, and percussive palmas lead to a dynamic rhythmic conclusion. 


TITLE OF PIECE: Sol y Viento
Fanny Ara, Melissa Cruz, Lea Kobeli, Sara Moncada, Marina Elena Scannell, Holly Shaw
Jason McGuire
"Sol Viento"
J. Blanco, J. Gilham, G. Lanzas, J. McGuire

Andalucia in particular is experiencing a renaissance. This in part is due to the booming business that flamenco has become. Foreign students flock to flamenco studios and international festivals, vendors of flamenco music, costumes and shoes sell their wares the world over. New forms of flamenco are emerging with the Spanish youth wishing to extend the boundaries of flamenco and mixing it with jazz, Latin and African music. The latest form to hit the music industry is chambao, which combines relaxed flamenco with electronic "chill out" music, exploring the passionate qualities of ambient sound.

Yaelisa's Sol y Viento draws on traditional flamenco movement vocabulary but transforms it by placing it in a modern choreographic setting and by using chambao music. The piece explores the sensuality and playfulness of women, while connecting to the qualities of chambao music — smooth fluidity and images of nature, the sun and the wind.

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