Miguel Marin, founder and artistic director of the Flamenco Festival has been presenting the foremost flamenco singers, dancers and musicians from Spain to Miami audiences since 2005, first at the now defunct Jackie Gleason Theater and now at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
This year, the festival runs from Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 19 with performances by Sara Bars, Irene Lozano, and Rafael Riqueni.
Marin, interviewed from Spain, says his passion for flamenco was a driving force in creating the festival in 2001. “ I wanted to show the audience out of Spain what flamenco is. Flamenco comes from Spain - it’s linked to the way of living in Spain and (I wanted to) distinguish it from other cultures. Traditionally, flamenco interpreted the different rhythm of flamenco styles but now we are also seeing a change in the way of interpreting and creating new works.”
The Flamenco Festival is one of the year’s biggest dance events in Miami. With its stylized arms, and arching backs, and flamenco’s use of baile — the dance, guitarra, palmas - rhythmic hand clapping and jaleo — calls of encouragement — flamenco dance and music has been a favorite art form among South Floridians for decades, and they are not alone. The Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garia Lorca, living in New York City in 1929, in one of his letters to his family, said “ You have no idea how deeply moved these Americans are by the traditional music and song of Spain. “
In recent years, flamenco has been consciously moving away from tradition. “ Artists are speaking the same messages but with other resources and vocabularies that make flamenco wider and richer," Marin says. He further adds that he looks for unpredictability, spontaneity and the sense of authenticity in flamenco performers.
The festival opens on Thursday, March 16 with flamenco dancer Irene Lozano.
Lozano was recently awarded the “Premio Desplante, “ one of the most distinguished awards presented to a flamenco artist. Lozano is known for her innovative manner of combining different dance forms with flamenco. Her performance entitled "Las Mujeres Que Habitan En Mi" is a moving acknowledgment of the women who have influenced her life and art.
“There are many women who have made me who I am today and have influenced what my dance has become. All the women I wasn’t and the women I lived,” says Lozano.
Sara Baras performs her newest show "Alma" for three shows Friday through Sunday, March 17 to 19. Baras is known for her footwork, which is her trademark, and her elaborate costumes. Alma’s focus is on the bolero a style of flamenco dance in 3/4 time that often depicts romantic love.
In "Alma," Baras showcases flamenco’s technique while infusing it with her enthralling stage presence. Marin says Baras is a queen of flamenco. “ She displays energy, passion and love for the audience. It is a joy to watch her. "
Rafael Riqueni is making his Miami debut on Sunday, March 19. Riqueni is considered one of the greatest flamenco guitarists of our time. He was born in Seville and at the age of fourteen won two national awards for his mastery of flamenco guitar. One of his first albums, "Flamenco," earned him devoted followers among generations of guitarists. In 2020, Riqueni released a new album "Herencia," which was nominated for the 2021 Latin Grammy Award for best flamenco album.
Marin says one of the most important aspects of flamenco is the connection between the artist and the audience. “ The energy from the performer to the audience, and from the audience to the performer."
Flamenco Festival Miami with Irene Lozano: “Las Mujeres Que Habitan En Mi,” 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19, Peacock Foundation Studio. Sara Baras, “Alma,” 8 p.m. Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 19, Knight Concert Hall. Rafael Riqueni, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 19, Thomson Plaza for the Arts. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets are $20 to $135 depending on performance. Call (305) 949-6722 or go to www.arshtcenter.org