I recently had the opportunity to attend a flamenco performance by Oleaje Flamenco, a Seattle, Washington-based dance company. Although Parklife DC rarely features dance performances, the artistic excellence and sheer power of flamenco guitar and dance matched any rock concert I’ve ever attended.
Wikipedia defines “Flamenco” as “an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain, developed within the gitano subculture of the region of Andalusia.” It is closely associated with gypsy (manouche) guitar but stands apart as, historically, it is a style and technique uniquely Andalusian, though flamenco artists have historically included Spaniards of both gitano and non-gitano heritage. In 2010, UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Flamenco guitarists (tocaores) perform using a unique posture and technique where the instrument is positioned on the player’s crossed legs, making its placement higher so that the neck is nearly horizontal in respect to the floor. The accompanying flamenco dance (baile flamenco) is nearly as exhausting to watch as it is to perform. The dance is distinctive for its emotional intensity, strict posture, and intricate footwork. At The Blue Room in Bellingham on Jan. 6, the dancers’ power and passion prompted me to think of them as athletes as well as artists.
For this performance, Oleaje Flamenco’s Amelia Moore (dance) and Jed Miley (guitar) were joined by dancers Monica Mota, Marlena Mizzoni, and New York City flamenco star Jose Moreno
Moreno mentioned how he draws inspiration from Fernando Fernández Monje, better known as the Terremoto de Jerez, a luminary in the flamenco world whose son (Fernando Fernández Pantoja, or Fernando Terremoto) and granddaughter (María Fernández Benítez, known as María Terremoto) have followed in his footsteps. For anyone interested, the Spanish television documentary featured found footage of Terremoto and is a good introduction to flamenco tradition.
To learn more about the fascinating world of flamenco, please visit Oleaje Flamenco’s website.
Here are some photos of Oleaje Flamenco performing at Bellingham’s Blue Room on Jan. 6, 2024. All photos courtesy of and copyright Mark Caicedo.