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.

Jul 162012

One thing summer time always brings is street performers and July 2012 has been no exception. An evening walk or a drive through the highlands can often provide plenty of unexpected entertainment.

As the sun drops down, the streetlights become spotlights on the simple concrete stage we commonly call a sidewalk. There is no schedule, elaborate stage props, bright lights or billboard signs to announce the presence of local street performers. In some cases, they just stop, drop and entertain because they enjoy performing for passing crowds. Sometimes they just enjoy performing for themselves. To be honest, it is often the latter I find more entertaining as they are truly at one with their gift.

In July and August, the street becomes a live gallery with a new sound or step every few blocks. From one moment to the next, you may hear an old blues harp reminiscent of the bayou or a cool old cat filling the air with jazzy melodies, thinking back to days long gone.

Sometimes friends cross paths and gather to play hand drums, flutes or guitars. Their melodies often carry positive energy with tribal beats and wandering rhythms. Occasionally someone might even sing or chant a few lines. They all just get lost in the mood and become mesmerized in the moment.

It is not uncommon to see a casually clad belly dancer moving gracefully among the passersby, or swirling between musicians just for fun. Hooley Hooper’s are occasionally spotted near certain establishments in the Highlands too. They tend to play like children twirling about their sparkling hoops, yet they do so with the grace of a cat.

I’ve even seen the occasional break dancer spinning in a parking lot… which though amusing, actually looked painful. There are also those on the streets that cannot dance…at all… yet they do. These brief but disturbing images are usually caught in passing while stifling a giggle.

The Highlands also has its share of buskers, who can be any of the above. The difference is Buskers have fun, gracefully accept tips and have a secret, but traditional bardic code. Apologies, as I can say no more of it.

Street performers can be dancers, guitarists, drummers, or clowns. It doesn’t matter as long as their having fun and people around them are moved by their energy.  These modern day bards can often lift or lower someone’s mood in a matter of seconds with a well-played note.

Street Bards or Buskers may not be on a stage in a club, but they don’t require one. In some ways they are the true independents, free spirits that still feel what they do and don’t play by a set schedule. Next time you see a bard along the street, take a moment and check it out. You may find yourself waking up to a world you never knew existed.


Upcoming events:

August 9th, 10th and 11th Va Va Va Vittles at Headliners located at 1386 Lexington Rd.

Jun 162012

Normally I focus mainly on dance, but this month I wanted to touch on a different subject that I feel deserved a little recognition.

Recently, LMN’s own Paul Moffett brought the music back into a local venue that has been silent for far too long with the exception of the jukebox. Personally, I’ve always seen Paul as the person behind the scenes… and my editor, but he is in fact a talented guitarist that has a knack for bringing other likeminded, talented musicians together.

The referenced venue is Air Devils Inn on Taylorsville Rd, which has been around longer than any other bar in our fair city. Throughout its existence it has seen some famous musicians on its simple stage, which sports a painted mural of many of them. However, for several months ADI grew silent much to the dismay of many that knew it’s musical history.

Paul changed that and started a chain reaction. There is now an acoustic jam every Wednesday starting around 8pm at ADI in which Paul and many others perform. One couldn’t exactly call this an open mic, but it is a similar format.

Last Wednesday featured a wonderful fiddler, harp player, cellist, and several guitarists. Every week a few more people show up with instruments and step on the stage to play a tune. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the performers tend to play a more folk or blues style. Some songs are known, others are just a collaboration of the talent on the stage going with what they feel. Over all, these talented folks provide a very mellow, yet very entertaining evening and… its easy to dance too.

So, props to Paul for bringing music back in the door at ADI.

Like Goth?

Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge at 1004 Oak St presented the Louisville Dark Party on June 9th. This was a DJ event filled with lots of energy, alcohol and dancing. The Louisville Dark Party hosts goth events monthly, so if your into that scene, the dark party is the place to be. You can track future events on Facebook at!/louisville.darkparty

Raqia, known for her annual charity event Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree, celebrated the derby with her own special type of flair. The Downs After Dark Desert Oasis happened on June 16th at Churchill Downs. As with all Raqia’s shows, there was a talented line up of performers entertaining the crowd with their fluidic belly dance. The lineup was Fairoza, Kelai , Molly, Amy, Serafina, Raqia, and Dominique.

Upcoming events and classes:

Starting on June 18 at 5:00pm until July 23 Mantra Movement Mondays presents BellyJoy for Beginners at the Yoga Artz Hub at 555 South 28th Street Suite C, Paducah

This class is an introduction to belly dance with a focus on alignment and breath {movement with intention} brought to you by Jessica Joy. Jessica will teach with a focus on intention (mantras, + mudras), dance posture, breathing, etc.