Angelina Ramirez and Flamenco Por La Vida Present Lluvia Flamenca 2015 at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix

It’s easy to get a steady flamenco fix in metro Phoenix, thanks to Flamenco Por La Vida, the dance company founded in 2009 by Angelina Ramirez, who continues to perform with the company and serve as its artistic director.

This week, Flamenco Por La Vida presents its third Lluvia Flamenca event at the Crescent Ballroom, where their free Saturday night performances have entertained the early evening crowd for nearly three years now.

Lluvia Flamenca, which takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, features performances by not only Flamenco Por La Vida, but also several guest artists who hail from Spain, Japan, and other places across the United States.

Chief among them is Albuquerque-based Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company, a flamenco company directed by Joaquin Encinias.

Ramirez recalls Yjastros performing at the Herberger Theater Center many years ago, and says the company has significantly evolved since then.

“Now they have choreography from some of the most esteemed flamenco choreographers,” Ramirez says. And they present one of the world’s largest flamenco festivals.

Principal dancer Marisol Encinias will perform Thursday night with four additional dancers, as well as Yjastros singer Vicente Griego and Yjastros guitarist Calvin Hazen. Joaquin Encinias will play a cajon, a box-like percussion instrument.

Flamenco, which blends dance with vocal and musical performance, originated in Andalusia, which is located in southern Spain – but Ramirez notes that it’s prevalent today in several American cities, including Albuquerque, New York City, San Francisco, San Antonio, Santa Barbara, and Washington, D.C.

Thursday’s guest artists include Javier Heredia, a flamenco singer based in Seville, Spain – as well as dancer Rhina Motohkaw.

Local performers include La Caja Tablao – which features dancers Bernadette Gaxiola and La Lea, as well as guitarist Kris “El Cuervo” Hill.

Performance by Flamenco Por La Vida includes dancers Ramirez and Mele Martinez, singers Olivia Rojas and Macarena Giraldez, and musicians Jason Martinez (cajon) and Misael Barraza (guitar).

Ramirez says she's glad she has the opportunity to help people “get an idea of Spanish culture,” adding that performances at the Crescent Ballroom make flamenco accessible to people who might not experience it otherwise.

Noting that the word “lluvia” is Spanish for rain, Ramirez likens this production, which they’ll modify slightly for a performance the following night at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, to a storm of more than a dozen flamenco performers.

Still, there’s one performer she’s particularly eager to welcome to the Crescent Ballroom stage. It’s Joaquin Encinias, described by Ramirez as “a really great mentor.” For a time, she danced with the company he heads.

“I’m especially excited about bringing my mentor to where I dance,” Ramirez says. “I want him to see how much he taught me,” she says, “and what we’ve built here.”

Lluvia Flamenca 2015 takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, at the Crescent Ballroom. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets, which cost $19 to $27, are available on the Crescent Ballroom website and at the door.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble