The Los Angeles International Flamenco Festival has been producing shows in Los Angeles since 2010, bringing audiences Flamenco’s top talent. The performers include cantaores (singers), musicians, composers and dancers. The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles is synonymous with flamenco, showcasing leading organizations. On Saturday, March 9th, 2024 the night audience was there to see 2019 Grammy Award winner José Maya and other brilliant artists. The show is called Color Sin Nombre, (Color without name), inspired by famed American painter Mark Rothko known for contributing the movement of Abstract Expressionism. José Maya being a leader in flamenco avant-garde added many different emotions to his segments and overall production. The evening was a vision of hard work, artistic dedication, sensations, and feelings all effectively following flamenco avant-garde.

Andrés Barrios - Courtesy of Flamenco Festival.

Musical artist Andrés Barrios – Courtesy of Flamenco Festival.

The show started off with a piano on stage and a contemporary singer/composer/pianist named Andrés Barrios from Seville. He was wearing jeans and comes across comfortable on stage, talking to the audience between refrains, working through his romantic accompaniments about love. Barrios eyes are closed as he plays the piano and delivers classical keynotes with segments of jazz and blues, Spanish song, and stomping his feet ever so often to get an undercurrent that provides a baseline for a flamenco rhythm. One segment included flamenco performer Mizuho Sato from Japan, who came out in a Manton de Manila (large shawl). Her graceful movements extenuated the floating of the Manton, which have been utilized by many women in Spain since the 1700’s. Sato was serious, solid and lean as she stretched her arms out to make shapes and swirl her Manton, while incorporating ballet movements such as fouettés. Her heeled footwork was brief and simple as she worked with a nontraditional form of Spanish music.

Mizuho Sato - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Mizuho Sato – Photo courtesy of the artist.

The second section of the evening began with José Maya sitting on a bench center stage. Throughout his presentation, Maya gave it his all, producing so many different aspects of flamenco and artistry. He started off strong, slow, dramatic, and intense as if he were in a painful memory. A man trapped as a prisoner of mind and body. Maya has a unique hip rotation from his spine that enables him to provide a full ranged twist in his steps. His dramatization gave a steady character of evolution.

Maya is a marvel! He is smooth and calculating yet resilient and expansive, all while covering the entire stage. His start had lengthy balletic poses, slapping his chest, as he seemed dark and disturbed. He includes ballet styled chaînes turns. Maya also has a wonderful sense of rhythm and musical delivery; he is precisely on the music, using hand claps, footwork and even finger castanets to convey his profound musicality. In another instant the tone changes and it is as if his time of darkness has brought him light y allegria (and happiness), as Oles can be heard from the crowd. With his foot work as an additional instrument accentuating the beat, Maya is concise and while he turns you see the sweat fly off of his body. His work ethic is flawless and he even sang handsomely while dancing.

José Maya - Photo by Olga Holguín.

José Maya – Photo by Olga Holguín.

The futuristic stage background is of unusual locations continued to flow like the universe’s rhythmic current. A wonderful addition to this portion of the show was a moving screened background of footage that contributed to the overall feeling of constant movement. In addition, Delia Membrive, a beautiful smooth and stable songbird, was a delight – she has it all including beauty and forte. Always a delight to see on stage, Ismael Fernández is steady as ever and eases through his parts. Percussionist David Dominquez was a pleasant addition to the night and flamenco guitarist extraordinaire Rycardo Moreno was a wonder to see on stage and gave us a glimpse of his solo work.

Singer Ismael Fernández - Photo courtesy of Flamenco Festival.

Singer Ismael Fernández – Photo courtesy of Flamenco Festival.

The production was unique, enjoyable, thought provoking and insightful. The artists showed their vulnerable sides and allowed us to experience their truth. The LA International Flamenco Festival describes the show as, “This spectacular inner journey invites us to question the universality of human emotions. An immersion in the beyond of Mark Rothko’s colors.”  They did achieve this description plus showed the many facets of change and commitment to each performer’s craftsmanship.

To learn more about the festival shows and artist, go to: .

Written by Alice Alyse for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Jose Maya – Photo courtesy of LA International Flamenco Festival.