Director Jesús Muñoz and company present an intimate evening of world-class Flamenco music and dance. Jesús Muñoz Flamenco is unique in its collaborative respect for Cante Flamenco and Baile por derecho (otherwise known as dancing straight-up), which are its foundation.
Jesús Muñoz Flamenco began as a small group with big dreams to pursue original work. Though modest in size, the quality of the work has reached world-class stature and reputation with collaboration from prominent artists. Recently, Muñoz has performed in respected dance and music venues from the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles to the Cowles Center for dance in Minneapolis as well as other respected venues.
Muñoz’s self-described “Dream” program reflects a philosophy of inclusion through an art form with its roots in the folkloric musical traditions of Andalusian Spain. Even as flamenco absorbed the cultural influences of other regions and art forms over time; so, too, “Dream” reflects the evolving vision of Muñoz as an artist and a human being living in today’s global community.
Muñoz, in interviews, often refers to a famous statement by the late Nina Simone, a singer and activist during the Civil Rights Movement, “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the time.”
He is quoted as saying that while the country continues to grow technologically, “At the same time, we’re moving backwards in social accountability and relationships.”
Muñoz wants to reassure people, especially youth and the younger generation, that it’s alright to embrace negative emotions as well as the positive, “because that’s life ... it’s not all a ray of sunshine.”
And here is where the arts fuel the soul: “Dance and live events is one of those places where you still need to BE present,” he said.
The arts provide a means of self-expression, reflections of feelings that speak to the heart of an emotion, which Jesus believes is vital during what he sees are changing times, often filled with uncertainty and unrest.
The artist’s viewpoint is encased in the fluidity and power of the flamenco itself, which, some say, may originally have referred to flame or fire.
Regardless of its origins, there are elements specific to the flamenco, such as exotic and colorful costumes, sensuous movements, feet-stamping and hand-clapping.
These elements combine for a performance that critics often call "brilliant" and "passionate," which are words that can describe Jesus Muñoz himself.
Joining Muñoz onstage are dancers Marina Elana Scannel, Lydia Gallegos, Amalyah Leader and Victoria Gutierrez; guitarists Andres Vadín and Ismael Fernandez (Sevilla), Yosmel Montejo (Cuba) on bass and Mariano Morales on piano and violin. Vadín also is musical director.
Muñoz was first inspired by Albuquerque guitarist Isaiah Vigil, and attended his first dance class a year later at the age of 18. At the age of 25, he was invited as a choreographer for internationally recognized dance company Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco in 2007. Muñoz began to understand flamenco as a language, and creating new steps and rhythms became a way to speak.
Ismael Fernandez descends from the Fernandez Gypsy family, and grew up performing with them at flamenco festival stages globally and in the Bienal De Flamenco De Sevilla. His first steps took place in the tablao El Cordobes of Barcelona. He worked in Sevilla and Granada until 2004, when he won a prestigious competition. He has worked with internationally recognized artists in venues from New York to London and Madrid.
Yosmel Montejo began his formal guitar, piano and composition studies at the age of nine, earning the prestigious titles of instrumentalist, master of guitar and bandleader. In 2010 he joined Orlando “Maraca” Valle, touring throughout some of the most prestigious venues and festivals in the world, including The Kennedy Center in DC, and working with Grammy-award winners Marlow Rosado, Ray De La Paz and Mariano Morales.
Andres Vadin performs annually with his trio at The Namm Show in Anaheim, CA as part of the Godin Guitars Company. At the age of 12, he won the first prize in the Amadeo Roldan guitar competition in Havana, Cuba. A graduate from the Guillermo Tomas and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory of Music in Habana, he has played with artists of many musical genres, touring throughout Europe and Latin America numerous times.
The life of Puerto Rican composer/arranger/music director and instrumentalist Mariano Morales encompasses a wide spectrum of genres. As a performer and recording artist (violin and piano), he has worked with artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Marc Anthony and Franco D’ Vita. He has directed and performed internationally with numerous Latin Jazz ensembles with guest artists such as Tito Puente and Dave Valentín, and continues to perform in Albuquerque.
Amalyah Leader received her flamenco training in NYC with Omayra Amaya and in Spain with Andres Marin, Leanor Leal and Oruco. She has performed throughout Massachusetts with Ines Arrubla's Flamenco company and in NYC with Omayra Amaya's company, Andanza. She currently is a student at Smith College where she studies in addition to her flamenco training.
Victoria Gutierrez began her studies of dance at the Public Academy for Performing Arts, studying under the direction of Fabian Sisneros, who introduced her to the world of Flamenco. With him, she performed throughout New Mexico and the southwest. She is now an apprentice for Odara Dance Ensemble under the direction of Pilar Leto, and is excited to dance and work with Muñoz to pursue her passion for flamenco as well as other genres of dance.