Aug 172013

After a several month hiatus, there is nothing like getting out and seeing a good show and August 14th was our lucky day. The New Vintage (formerly Uncle Pleasants) hosted a free performance by the renowned “Flamenco Louisville” from 9 until Midnight and this collection of talented artists brought a refreshing and powerful new energy into what was once a very different venue. Of course, it had been almost 2 decades since I’d visited this establishment and back then it catered primarily to the punk and metal music scene.

Upon our arrival several positive changes were immediately visible. The front door was open and the sounds of rhythmic dance, light percussion and Spanish guitar were gently wafting into the night air. Not loudly mind you, but just enough to give a pleasant pause to someone walking past. We were greeted by the bartender immediately and service was quick and friendly, including directing us into the room in which “Flamenco Louisville” was performing.

This was the first time I’ve watched this talented group of Bailaoras’, Cantaoras’ and Musicians. Now, I am woefully disappointed for missing previous performances. The verbal storytellers are the Cantaoras’ (singers) and both Suzanne Allen and Shannon Fitgerald portrayed the emotion necessary to project understanding, even for those of us who are ‘slightly’ rusty on our Spanish.

The Bailaoras’ (dancers) of the evening were Diana Dinicola, Lisa Canter, Grace Mican and Larissa Guy, who all performed fluidly on stage, seemingly at one with the music and surroundings. Diana Dinicola both danced and played the role of an elegant herald, providing brief descriptions and introductions prior to each performance. Group dances were minimal, as the majority of the performances were done solo or in a ‘pass the shawl’ sort of way. This was particularly enjoyable, as the style seemed far more traditional, allowing each Bailaora to interact and project her individual energy into the audience.

Each Bailaora contributed a special kind of energy to the stage and Diana Dinicola’s years of experience, dedication and passion are obvious in her performance as she confidently moves onto the stage. She illuminates strength, poise and grace, transforming with a radiant energy that reaches out to interact with the patrons. If one could give the heart of Flamenco a face, Diana’s would be most appropriate. The raw power of her performance will subconsciously have you sitting on the edge of your seat, just anticipating her next climactic change.

With a small stage and a lot of seating congestion, Larissa Guy brought the patrons to their feet for a better view during her solo performance, our party included. From the moment she rose from her chair there was an explosion of intensely powerful emotion, whipping the energy in the room. Nothing stirred when she paused, but the second her foot hit the floor, the air crackled with life. She was a storm, bursting with emotional electricity on the stage.

It is true that music soothes the soul, but some music also compels the soul to dance. The music that entwined with the Bailaoras’ this evening was performed by Paul Carney on guitar and John Harris, who did an amazing job on percussion. We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Paul play once before, but actually seeing him on stage with Diana and “Flamenco Louisville” is without comparison. There is a magic that sparkles between them that seems to further ignite the passion of the performance. The timing was impeccable, as if invisible signals passed between them. Perfection.

Another unique aspect of Wednesday’s show was the reintroduction of Flamenco traditions. “Flamenco Louisville” embraced the audience as part of their own community by bringing in authentic Tapas to share with patrons. For those unfamiliar, “Flamenco Louisville” is the longest standing Flamenco group in Louisville that performs and educates others via workshops, classes and educational programs about the ancient Spanish art of storytelling, song, dance and music.
Those who have the pleasure of seeing “Flamenco Louisville” on stage will quickly not only see, but will meld into whatever emotions these passionate performers emanate, be it sadness, anger, joy or love. Flamenco is emotion in motion, but perhaps Diana Dinicola described it best on her site:

“Flamenco gives expression to ALL the emotions, not just the happy ones. I can be sad, angry, joyful. It allows me to turn whatever I’m feeling, even if it is something dark or “ugly” into something beautiful. As a woman, flamenco makes me feel incredibly powerful. And I am not waiting for a man to give me the opportunity to dance; I can dance solo, or with a group but a partner is not required. I also really appreciate that you are expected to get better as you get older. You are expected to have something to say in flamenco – “dime la verdad” – and the life experience to back it up. Nor do you have to be any particular body type. Some of the most respected dancers have substantial bodies. I respect that.”

Overall, it was a great show and the metamorphosis of Uncle Pleasants into “The New Vintage” is far more appealing than previous years. I could have done without the red and white stage lights glaring into the audience. However, if they continue to play host to entertainment such as “Flamenco Louisville”, we’ll be frequenting the venue much more often… although perhaps with sunglasses.



Upcoming Flamenco Louisville Shows in August:
Friday, August 23, 2013
9:30-11:00 pm
2144 Frankfort Ave
Cover: $10.00

Sunday, August 25, 2013
11:00 am
North Wing Lobby.

Saturday, August 31, 2013
5:45-6:30 pm on the Main Stage
Monday, September 2, 2013
3:00-3:45 pm on the Main Stage

Sep 172012

August is one of my favorite months, but this year I couldn’t wait for it to end. Why? I was waiting for the August 31st Las Flamencas show at the Rudyard Kipling. When I know something is going to be good, I lack patience.

We first had the pleasure of seeing this amazing Flamenco group back on March 17th at the Kentucky Center’s Bombard Theater during their performance of “Mosaico Andalus”. At that time they were known as Flamenco Talk and Camino Flamenco, but have since combined companies and created Las Flamencas.  Mariya Tarakanova and Kristen Mercker are founding mothers of the previously separate entities, and their skill and grace are testimony to their experience in the Flamenco world.

Our view for Las Flamencas’ performance of “Movimiento Flamenco,” provided a very unique perspective thanks to Lisa of the Rudyard. She sat us right in front of the stage. This allowed us to literally ‘feel’ the vibration from the dancer’s movements. The energy on the dance floor caused the wine in our glasses to actually swirl, as if trying to dance to Brent Del Bianco’s guitar.

Unlike the Bombard, The Rudyard stage is snuggled within the confines of the crowd and provided an almost natural feel. It was as if a ‘very’ large family had gathered at a nice villa to watch their favorite performers.  Once the show started people would clap and instinctively stomp, though not as skillfully as the ladies on the stage.

The stage itself was not very large, and initially we thought the dancers might stick to duets or solo, however the limited space did not hinder Las Flamencas.

Mariya Tarakanova provided an introduction to the performance and a brief history on the dance company with the occasional accompaniment of guest singer, Vincente Griego. Afterwards, the first group of dancers exploded on the stage. The Flamenco students Haydee Canovas, Karina Kempter, Holly Jett, Sarah Houston and Renee Murphy started the show with an energetic dance that set the mood for the remainder of the evening.

When Las Flamencas took the stage, the mood elevated even more. The group performances by Mariya Tarakanova, Juliana Brava, Kristen Mercker and Brenna O’Hara were fluidic and soothing at moments and popping with energy the next. Their facial expressions, gestures and rhythmic dance all portrayed the passion they feel for Flamenco. Kristen Mercker did a solo performance that definitely deserves mention. She stepped forward in a beautiful red and black ensemble and the stage came to life with her passion filled, high energy performance. Her charismatic stage presence kept the crowd’s energy spiraling with the pace of her dance. Kristen filled the room with what one could call authentic Flamenco spirit.

Speaking of spirit, one of the most intense and passionate dances of the evening was a duet with Brenna O’Hara and Juliana Bravo. Brenna O’Hara’s posture is reminiscent of her rich history in ballet, and adds an eloquent element to her Flamenco performances. She maintains a natural poise while Juliana adds a tradition based feel for a very complimentary combination. Brenna and Juliana utilized shawls and the effect was magical. The vivid pink and blue shawls danced around the ladies like angelic butterfly wings as they performed. The delicate material seemed almost an extension of the dancers themselves.  If you can envision Flamenco dancing fairies that would get you close to a good visual. It was breathtaking.


The Guest singer, Vincent Griego was jovial throughout the night. He greeted guests as they arrived and interacted with the crowd between performances. His voice would croon the audience and then explode with such raw power that the energy in the room seemed to tremble at the force.

Brent Del Bianco was the solo musician at “Movimiento Flamenco,” but no others were necessary. Brent and his guitar seem to communicate almost telepathically. His fingers delicately graze the strings and a flurry of intricate notes and chords emanate from the instrument, complimented by the dancer’s steps. Vincente Griego announced they’d be ending the night with a festive dance of joy.  Mariya, Kristen, Juliana and Brenna made their final number an outpouring of positive energy. Actually, the entire group of performers seemed to cast a piece of their own personal joy into the audience. The crowd, including the children that attended the Rudyard left the performance happy and upbeat.

Mariya Tarakanova is not only one of the most talented Flamenco dancers in Louisville, but she is also a wealth of information about the art of Flamenco, and willing to share her knowledge. They welcome new students, or anyone interested in learning about traditional dance.

The Rudyard came alive on August 31st with the spirit of Flamenco during “Movimiento Flamenco” thanks to Vincent Griego, Brent Del Bianco and Las Flamencas. Their passion for the traditional Flamenco art ignites a fire on every stage they perform on. This is one group I look forward to seeing again soon, and if you like Flamenco, you should too.

In closing, a few special thanks; Lisa at the Rudyard for the wonderful seating arrangements and the tasty Flam; My photographer, Jonny Shah who edited and arranged the pictures; Mariya, Las Flamencas, Brent Del Bianco, and Vincent Griego for sharing another passionate Flamenco performance.