Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sad Songs, Happy Dance

Posted on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 12:23 PM

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Hear the word flamenco and you likely imagine a woman with a dark chignon clapping and stomping in a café. But according to dancer Savannah Fuentes, "Flamenco is first and foremost a singing art form." The sexy, expressive sights and sounds of the genre, she says, actually have their roots in persecution, springing from the mining communities and ethnic groups — Muslims, Jews and Romani — who fled to Andalusia in southern Spain under Queen Isabella. The mark of quality flamenco, for Fuentes, is a good cry.

While the songs, the guitar and the accompanying dance can be baleful, Fuentes will be doing allegria — happy dance — from the coast of Spain in her performance on Friday, May 1, at 8 p.m. at the D Street Neighborhood Center ($20, $10, $7). The Seattle-based dancer, who has trained in the U.S. and Spain over the last 18 years, makes her fifth visit to Humboldt, this time with singer Jesus Montoya from Seville and Bulgarian guitarist Bobby de Sofia. Prepare for the strength of Montoya's voice as he sings out phrases, his melisma playing off de Sofia's soulful guitar in a style reminiscent of Arabic singing. There's an element of group improvisation at work, and Fuentes uses every digit, every vertebrae to follow and expand the musical conversation.

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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