Flamenco International, Mission Cultural Center, September 30

10 Oct

Only an E-mail provided the information for this intimate exposition of Flamenco with two superb singers, Jose Cortes and Afonso Mogaluro,                two dancers, Antonio Arrebola and Carola Zertuche, a player of the cajon, John Martin, and the guitarist Ricardo Diaz, who also was the organizer. But the event, independent of its venue, drew a crowd of clearly flamenco afficiandos.

The Mission Cultural Center was started in 1977 by student activists at San Francisco State University who petitioned the San Francisco City and County Government for space where the community and arts of Latino background could gather for events and classes.  The Center became particularly noted for Mission Grafica;  its activity in poster art gained recognition and prizes in biennial International competitions in Germany and Cuba.  The Center offers a variety of classes, from printmaking for children to salsa and belly-dancing for adults.

Diaz can be forgiven for being a better guitarist than an organizer;  the performers filed out on stage some twenty minutes following an announced eight p.m. curtain.  While the audience waited, sounds of taconeo could be heard back stage; everyone seemed good-natured about the delay.

After the guitar opening, Jose Cortes began to sing, or rather went into extended melismas over a word or phrase.  A tallish, square-faced  man with abundant silver hair, the energy given to this individualistic expression was abundant, his hands pushing against the air, extending the range of a note. Alfonso Mogaburo followed, looking like a young Marc Platoff, vocal tones lighter presence more diffident but equally capable of extended melismas.

Arrebola followed with a Martinete, a dance frequently accented by the sound
of an anvil, evoking its origins in the forge.  Carola Zertuche’s number just
before intermission was a Tientos, galvinizing the audience with her almost
sombre delivery, though a smile flickered across her mouth at unexpected
moments.  Her turns are precise, her focus unrelenting, her accents sometimes
unexpected, her pitos clear.

After intermission Ricardo Diaz played his solo; the two singers provided a lead in for Zertuche’s Tarante going into a Tango. Her dancing covered the stage,
her palmas judiciously spaced, the torso bending, whipping, arms extending,
raised or coiling, an onward pace never faltering. At times her body moved
through bawdy positions;  nothing in her mood extended any potential vulgarity. She wove a narrative of emotion and movement to an abrupt finale, and the audience rose quickly for a deserved ovation.

The concluding dance was Arrebola’s Alegrias, the light-hearted dance
from his native Malaga.  The man has a formidable technique, but an inclination
to mug for effect, diminishing an otherwise brilliant exposition.  The audience,
however, didn’t seem to mind the clowning, if the ovation wasn’t quite so
immediate as the one given Zertuche.

The morning after, the images of the singers and Zertuche continued to linger.

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