On Saturday November 9th, Flamenco star Farruquito performed at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts. Farruquito was joined by dancers Gemma Moneo and “El Polito”, or Antonio Moreno Fernandez. The show involved a fabulous collection of singers including “El Chanito”, also known as Ezequiel Montoya Jimenez, Mari Vizarraga, and Maria Mezcle. The musicians included Juan Fernando Galvez, also known as “Juan Parilla” on flute, Yerai Cortes on guitar, and Gasper Leal as the sound engineer. The production comprised a Solea, a Solea por Bulerias, a Seguidilla Alegria, and Taranto Zapateo.
Juan Manuel Fernandez Montoya, also known as Farruquito, is the grandson to El Farruco and son to El Moreno (esteemed singer) and La Farruca (esteemed dancer). Farruquito is known for being born to a family of talented and accomplished Flamenco artists and he carries that legacy in every class and performance that he is a part of. He began performing at the age of five and choreographing at the age of 15 when he debuted Raices Flamencas. His choreographies blend his personality and style with his Flamenco upbringing and he often includes his family in most of his shows. When Farruquito began choreographing and performing, he had a legacy to carry on and he has continued to move his family’s legacy forward with innovative and symbolic work.
The night of the performance, Farruquito opened in silhouette while dancing his grandfather’s solea in his grandfather’s hat. The lighting cast a shadow of Farruquito slowly moving with his hands on the brim of the black hat on his head. Farruquito is known for his technical abilities within the art form which includes a lot of improvised footwork that seems to be beyond human ability. Audience members were privileged to see another side of Farruquito’s talent this night which included elegantly moving through space with a slow walk or shift of his body. Farruquito has really begun to carry on the legacy of El Farruco by demonstrating himself time and time again as a well-rounded and genuine artist.
This night’s performance was a glittering show that beautifully blended tradition with innovation. Revered for his abilities within the artform, Farruquito is one of the best Flamenco artists alive and like his previous family members, he is finding his own way to leave a personal mark in Flamenco history. The show had a lot of flashing lights, to very dramatic transitions and several show stopping moments. Oscar Gomez de Los Reyes, the lighting engineer, succeeded immensely in providing lighting that complimented the fantastic artistry that the show had offered and greatly enhanced the dramatic quality of the performance. The lighting made the show feel grand and glamorous and kept the audience on their toes as the evening progressed.
Farruquito has spoken about his admiration for Michael Jackson and his love for grand stage presence definitely came through here. It is Farruquito’s ability to bring that sparkling Broadway allure to Flamenco that results in sold out houses at venues like The Soraya. Flamenco is beautiful in any setting whether it is a small theatre, a home, a studio, or a large-scale theatre. However, what is appreciated about where Farruquito takes Flamenco is that he brings a performance to audiences that they otherwise may never have experienced
An artist statement from Farruquito in the program writes, “With this new performance, I will unveil my most personal side – staying true to traditional roots, while also presenting the current state of Flamenco, as I see it. I will revive the best moments from past performances while integrating new creations, always maintaining that special energy.” Flamenco lovers all over the world are familiar with Farruquito’s signature work and style. To see an artist with such talent and history open himself up to creative expansion is an immense privilege. Farruquito continued on to explain that part of his process when creating a performance is allowing equal opportunity for each performer to have their voice heard. I felt that this performance came together by honoring a special moment for each artist to have a well-crafted and personal solo. Gemma Moneo performed a beautiful Alegrias in a white bata de cola that lifted the spirits of the audience. Similar to Farruquito, Moneo has a charismatic way of performing that draws devoted attention to her on stage.
This show was truly a continuous fountain of energy that just kept giving and giving to the audience. There was not a moment when an artist was not giving their all to the audience. While observing this performance, I truly felt the grandness and allure that Farruquito brings to the stage. While the lighting and other dramatic effects were not typical of a traditional Flamenco show, they were true to Farruquito and how he shapes his portrayal of Flamenco.
The day following the show, Farruquito taught a master class for Flamenco students across the Los Angeles area. He is as generous on stage as he is in a classroom. He touched many hearts this weekend and we are thrilled to see what he brings the next time he is in Los Angeles.
Written by Corrina Roche for LA Dance Chronicle, November 21, 2019.
Featured image: Flamenco legend Farraquito – Photo by Luis Luque