Nino de los Reyes performed at RAICES. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Seven performers appeared at Newman Center’s Gates Hall on Oct. 13 and I hope they’ll return!

Energy, grace, music, song, skill were all included in the wonderful “Raices” program, presented by Maria Vasquez:, who operates Flamenco Denver, a studio on Denver’s South Broadway, that teaches these emphatic and graceful dance skills.

Vasquez grew up dancing Flamenco, she writes, and received her degree in Spanish Dance from Conservatory of Dance in Sevilla. She moved to Denver in 2002 and started teaching Flamenco, founding Flamenco Denver as a non-profit in 2014. “RAICES” means Roots.

She has met many prominent internationally recognized dancers during her career and presented a group of them as part of the season-long “Newman Center Presents” program on Oct. 13.

Among many sorts of programming, “Newman Center Presents” has included touring national dance companies, which have not been readily available in Denver otherwise and we are enjoying the varied and highly-skilled performers greatly…

In addition to Maria Vasquez, the program presented: Nino De Los Reyes, the first dancer to be presented with a Grammy Award , for Best Latin Album, resulting from a collaboration with musician Chick Corea. Corea , who invited him to appear with Corea’s band at the jazz figure’s 75th birthday celebration at Madison Square Gardens in New York and on Corea’s latest album, “Antidote.” He began his career at age nine, dancing with the “Campanas Flamencas” show, directed by Paco Sanchez, founder of the company “Cumbre Flamenca:” He has collaborated with various performing artists, including Paul Simon, relating to his “Stranger to Stranger” album.

Amparo Heredia, a flamenco singer with gypsy origins, began singing in Miami at age 16 and has since toured many flamenco tablaos (an intimate space where Flamenco is performed) in the U. S. She joined the Carlota Santano Company, working for several years at the symphony space in New York and has traveled through Spain. On the 50th anniversary of Christian Dior, she performed in the Garden at Versailles with Manuel Lombo.

Francisco “Yiyi” Orozco, described as “Cantor y Cajon” was born in Barcelona and introduced to flamenco rhythms at an early age by his father, a flamenco singer.

He began professional performances at age 12 and at 17, he was performing as a percussionist. he has toured extensively with flamenco dancers and other performers.

Jose Manuel Alconchel Ortega, guitarist, was born in Jerez de La Frontera in 1980 and introduced to music by his well-known singer/father, Pepe Alconchel, at age nine. From age 12, he began accompanying singers, while continuing his studies. He toured in Europe withSymphonic orchestras and ballet companies , winning awards for his skill. He currently lives in Miami and performs at Tablao Cava.

Diego “El Negro” Alvarez ia a master cajon player, born in Venezuela. He has lived in Spain for 16 years, where he developed his career with several prestigious flamenco dance teachers and companies. He is the winner of a Latin Grammy in 2010 for best Rock album of the year for “Sera” by La Vida Boheme and has more than 12 other Latin Grammy nominations to his credit, promoting the cajon as a universal instrument. (drum)demonstrating its foundations in flamenco and the music of Peru. He lives in Los Angeles.

Dancer Erika Sandre is Canadian, has toured through Canada and was Director of the Alaska Dance Theatre and was an adjunct professor. She has relocated to Denver, where she continues her flamenco studies with Maria Veasquwz and as a faculty member with Colorado Ballet.

Carmen S. Diaz was born in Maracay, Venezuela, and started traditional Venezuelan dancing at age 5.When she moved to Caracas at age 19 to study engineering, flamenco caught he attention and she started dance instruction as well. In 2015, she moved to Pittsburgh, PA to pursue a Master’s Degree in and continued her dance studies. In 2017, she moved to Denver where she has evolved to soloist roles.

Natalia Garayoa de la Maza was born to two immigrant parents in Denver and developed an early interest in dance, theater and stage. She attended the Gwen Bowen Ballet school and discovered the flamenco studio at the same address. In 2012, she fell in love with flamenco and has traveled to Albuquerque and to Spain to study with master teachers. She has just returned from a year in Spain…

One wishes there were more opportunities to enjoy this joyous artform in Denver. Perhaps this performance will help … The program included a variety of flamenco “palos:” Tango, Taranto, Alegrias, Anda Jaleo, Farruca, Cana and Solea and s fine guitar solo by accompanist Jose Manuel Ortega.

Sonya Ellingboe has been writing about area arts and entertainment and sometimes local history since 1986. She has lived in Littleton since 1956 and has four adult children and nine grandchildren — plus...

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