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:
NOCHE FLAMENCO AT CAFFE CLASSICO
Friday, August 23, 2013
9:30-11:00 pm
2144 Frankfort Ave
Cover: $10.00

KY STATE FAIR PERFORMING ARTS STAGE
Sunday, August 25, 2013
11:00 am
North Wing Lobby.

WORLDFEST
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

Mar 232013
 

This year marked the seven year itch for March Madness in Louisville, but not in regards to the Cardinals. You might be shocked to learn there is more to March than basketball at the University of Louisville. Well, maybe not… but the true shock is the lack of attention some noteworthy events receive. The University of Louisville’s 7th Annual Dance Marathon on March 23rd was such an event.

For those unfamiliar with this less publicized and somewhat more artistic marathon, the first March Madness dance marathon was initiated by a group of students wanting to make a difference and support the local Kosair Children’s Hospital. They accomplished this by orchestrating a good, old fashioned dance marathon in 2006. The participating couples wore numbers and danced for hours, with the last on the floor winning, aka raising the most. The donation is made via the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The University Of Louisville Dance Marathon 2013 was sponsored by Chili’s and drew more than 300 students to the Universities Student Activities Center on March 23rd, with many being repeat participants. Couples danced as part of a team and were assigned a specific color t-shirt along with their individual ‘duet’ number. A trio of DJ’s spun from a list of desirable dance tunes (student wise) and the teams moved with the flow of the beat (or the one in their head) for as long as they could.

The team t-shirt is a requirement for the students but otherwise the dress code is casual and up for interpretation. This is an open invite for some college style creativity to emphasize team color and style. Every ULDM brings more vibrantly colorful leggings, tutus, overalls, feathers, fake fur, ribbons, wigs and sneakers out on the dance floor. The open artistic encouragement helps increase the enthusiasm amongst the students, sponsors and spectators as fans of specific teams cheer their support. Realistically, as the evening hours wane into the morning, some grow weary but many of these students dance well past dawn.

It is not necessarily their ‘talent’ that draws applause for these dancers but more so their creative expression and physical endurance for a good cause. The participation increases yearly at this ‘dance for charity’ event as previous participants and committee members spread the word amongst enthusiastic new students. The University Of Louisville Dance Marathon has raised and benefited the needy children of Kosair in funds exceeding $300,000 up to date according to Amanda Current, Special Events Manager at the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

 

Now that the Madness of March has left us and we’ve made it past April’s noted day for fools, here are a few upcoming events that will give you a reason to venture out amongst the upcoming showers:

Celtic Woman will bring a taste of the Irish to the Louisville Palace on April 24th.

Shen Yun interprets 5000 years of Chinese culture via dance, theatre and music at 501 West Main on April 30th and May 1st starting at 7:30 pm.

 

Dec 192012
 

Tis time I take a moment to say Happy holidays and Happy New Year to all those that take the time to read my ramblings. May you all be blessed with cheer, beer and… whatever else you wish for as 2012 comes to an end… and speaking of end.

All is well that ends well and despite ‘end of the world prophesies’, some good things have come out of 2012. We were blessed to have another year of happiness filled with good friends, good music, relaxing times and fabulous dancers of flamenco, belly dance, ballroom, etc. etc. Granted the world has seen a few dark clouds; however there are also plenty of things left to celebrate. Like we’re still here…assuming we are since this gets printed in 2013.

My ability to attend events has been limited recently, but Rachel Reich’s “Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree” was once again a success, gathering plenty of toys to benefit needy children and providing an amazing performance on December 6th.  Rachel and all those kind hearted entertainers that participated and performed for the good of innocents remind us all of the light that exists, even during questionable times.

Now the lovely ladies of that troupe will be dancing their way into the “Birth 2012 Louisville” festival on December 21st and 22nd and continuing to spread good cheer. Unity in Louisville is providing the space and Al Hamsa and Raqia’s Stars will be providing the dancing entertainment Friday at 10 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. Festival goers will be treated to a vibrant display of swirling veils and positive energy as these elegant dancers perform Egyptian, American Tribal, Spanish Arabic fusion and many other styles of dance.

The festivities at Birth 2012 are planned to make every moment a celebration of life via song, dance, meditation and music over the entire 24 hour period. Some of the greatest musicians in Louisville, like Tyrone Cotton and John Gage will be taking the stage and reminding listeners why the blues never gets old. There will also be special meditation and prayer times scheduled throughout the event.

It is time to say goodbye to 2012, and New Year’s Eve has a promising event lined up as the Va Va Vixens will take the stage with Blue Moon Circus at Art Sanctuary. These hoop spinners, belly dancers, and sideshow gurus’ and gals will provide a few hours of rip roaring, Vaudeville style entertainment to greet 2013 and say goodbye to 2012. If you haven’t seen the Vixens… their amusing and exotic antics are sure to offer a unique way of ringing in the New Year.

I prophesize a few more good shows to wrap up 2012 and hope you all have happy and safe holidaze, filled with positive energy.  My fingers are crossed that all comets keep their distance and the world finds a way to make 2013 an even better year.

 

 

Nov 202012
 
raq

This article will be a preview instead of a review as December marks the El Flujo column’s 1 year anniversary. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of watching and writing about some amazing local and international dancers, and some very touching benefit performances. One such benefit show being “Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree”, which ironically was the subject of this columns first article.

What is Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree? It is a group of caring individuals that play music and dance to benefit less fortunate children and provide them with toys for the holidays. These donations are given to the kids under the guise of Santa, but Mr. Claus is actually Rachel Reich of the Raqia Belly Dance Studio in New Albany, IN. She founded this toy drive back in 2009 but the participation has increased yearly, as have the benefits for the children. In 2011 the toy drive had 180 guests and 623 toys donated for AIM, the AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana.

December 6th will bring about the 4th Annual Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree at the Holiday Inn located on 411 West Spring Street in New Albany Indiana. Admittance is a toy or a $10 donation with all proceeds benefiting less fortunate children sponsored by AIM.

The evening will start out with a ‘Taste of New Albany’ from 6 pm till 7:30 where attendees can eat, drink and be merry. Adding to the serene environment will be the tunes of Il Trobadore and the Indianapolis Premier World Music Ensemble. The ever graceful Isabelle Celester Murray will be the featured dance artist during this portion of the show.

From 7:30 to 9 pm the room will come to life with colored veils, tinkling bells and fluid movements as the belly dancers take the stage to headline the evening’s entertainment. This year’s show will feature Al Hamsa, the Gypsies of the Nile and Raqia’s Stars including Raqia. These ladies will dance their hearts out for no other reason but to put a smile on the faces of children again this Christmas. Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree is a reminder of what holiday spirit should be about.

Speaking of holiday spirit… I’d really like to say Happy Holidaze (or Holiday depending on your frame of mind) and a Happy New Year to my gracious LMN readers. Thank you all for sharing and spreading a passion for the art of music and dance. Now as we draw near the end of 2012, I look forward to future shows and tapping away at these keys to continue ‘El Flujo throughout 2013.

 

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.

May 152012
 

The origins of Ballet can be traced back to the Itallian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries.  However, Louisville Ballet, which was founded in 1952 has make its own leaps and bounds in keeping thiselegant form of dance alive in our fair city.  The Louisville Ballet is the only regional company that the renowned Mikhail Baryshnikov has performed in repertoire productions during the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons.

On April 13th, the Louisville Ballet celebrated its 60th anniversary by putting on an earth shattering performance that added another page to the history books.  The dancers performed a mixture of both traditional and new styles with some performances combining Japanese and African techniques. The costume designs were sleek with just the right amount of sparkle to glimmer under the lights. This show combined all the necessary elements to define elegance, like a group of swans dancing on a lake under the moonlight.

Louisville native, Wendy Whelan returned from New York just to perform during the Ballet’s Diamond celebration. Her performance in The New York City Ballet’s “After the Rain” was in 2005, but it carved her spot in their dance company exquisitely in marble.  Wendy brought this graceful dance home to Louisville, accompanied by another NYCB member, Craig Hall.

Whelan and Hall were as one during the performance of this magical dance. Their movements were a combination of grace and fluidity. At times they were like intricate paper dolls swaying as if touched by a gentle breeze.  Whelan and Hall entranced the crowd with their intimate dance. The end of their performance brought the audience to their feet, filling the Brown Theater with thundering applause.

The Anniversary program also introduced two new pieces during their Diamond celebration; The ballet mistress, Mikelle Bruzina “Sansei”  with music performed by Ben Sollee and Adam Hougland’s “Unyielding Radiance.”

‘Sansei’ was an interesting piece as it told the story of a grandmother, mother and granddaughter celebrating life in a large family, ending with the climactic death of the eldest. The influence of Japanese traditional music and dance was subtle, yet obvious in this piece. Erica De La O portrayed the grandmother with a soothing, yet powerful display of energy. In the end, her body was gracefully lifted into the air to give the impression of beginning a journey into the afterlife.

Then end all of the evening was a grand performance that once again, brought the crowd out of their seats. The music of Bach combined with West African music brought a festive display that enraptured the crowd during Val Caniparoli’s “Lambarena.”  This performance combined a fusion of ancient African dance with the spiritualized movement of traditional ballet on the stage.  The Brown was filled with positive energy as the dancers erupted on the stage and kept viewers captivated till end.

Diamonds are indeed forever, and Louisville Ballet’s 60th Anniversary was a celebration of dance that will be inscribed in the memories of all who witnessed it for many years to come.

Upcoming events;
Desert Rose: An Arabic Showcase @ Zazoos

Saturday May 26th at 9pm

This will be an evening filled with Middle Eastern music and entertainment with the following performers;

Interactive bellydance with Raqia & Fairoza. Mousa Alradwan Jr (oud, drums), Mousa AL Taub (oud), keyboards with Mohammad Alabede with Artwork by Aadil Alqasem & Hadeel Yasser.
Tutu Revue Presents: “Things That Go BUMP In The Night”

Friday August 3rd at 9:30 pm at the Rudyard

Sassafras Dance Company’s newly added Tutu Revue Burlesque Show. The event will include the renowned resident performers as well as newly added Beginners Burlesque Class students. As always, the costumes are sure to be incredible, along with the choreography. This is a FREE event, so come out and enjoy the entertainment as the ladies perform for your viewing pleasure.

 

 

 

 

Dec 232011
 

Tis the season…. And as a new columnist to LMN, I’d like to wish all you readers a happy holiday and pleasant journey into the New Year. May your festivities be filled with joy, and the hangovers be mild. Oh, and don’t drink and drive if you can help it. The possibility of starting the year 2012 with a DUI does not make for a cheerful beginning.

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to bestow a little recognition to Rachel Reich, of Raqia Belly Dance/The Studio, in New Albany, IN.

Rachel is a professional belly dancer who has been recognized and awarded by Louisville Magazine for her grace and talent. Now she deserves some props for her heart felt efforts to help some needy children during the holiday season.

Rachel initiated a benefit show in 2009 called Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree. Her kind gesture has now become an annual event which provides less fortunate children with gifts at Christmas. This year marked Rachel’s third show. The Grand, located at 138 E. Market St. in New Albany, Indiana hosted the benefit performance on December 1st.

Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree ended up having 180 generous guests in attendance. There were 623 toys donated, which will benefit Aids Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana. All those toys will light up the faces of quite a few children on Christmas day.

Rachel was not alone in her anonymous effort to spread some good cheer for the holiday season. Her merry band of Santa’s helpers included performances by Al Hamsa, Gypsies of the Nile, Il Troubadore, Classical Choice, DJ Jack, Music on the Move Entertainment Services and Raqia’s Stars. All these entertainers willingly donated their time and talent without asking for anything in return.

Ironically, the children who benefit from the generosity of those that donated time and toys will be thinking of a jolly fat man in a red suit as their benefactor. In reality, their secret Santa’s were a group of graceful belly dancers, who twirled their hearts out just to make them smile.

It would be nice to see more incredible acts of compassion such as this taking the headlines away from shoppers using pepper spray during frenzied holiday shopping sprees.

If you’d like to see some of the amazing images from this event, you can do so by copying this link.

http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php#!/media/set/?set=a.2722256143062.139846.1456836955&type=1