Yaelisa’s Chrismas Offering, ODC, December 12-16

28 Dec

With “10 por Arriba” Yaelisa returned to ODC Theater where she and her ensemble had presented monthly tablaos prior to its remodeling. now with her core performers and one guest artist.  Like Carola Zertuche of Theatre Flamenco the male baelerin needs to be a guest. In this instance it was Manuel Gutierrez with the percussionist/drummer Joey Heredia adding to the panache as well as  the accomplished flamenco singer Jose Cortes.  Cellist Dan Reiter, Pianist Vicki Trimbach and tenor Ray Chavez contributed  to the evening’s magic.

The San Francisco area is blessed to have  such periodic productions, as well as the La Tania, Fanny Ara and Clara Rodriguez  occasional presentations or guest appearances.  One former Spanish dancer told me the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most active flamenco centers in the United States.

Yaelisa set the stage as if for rehearsal with the dancers entering casually, deliberately, still lost in transition from the street and personal consideration.  First, Yaelisa, ready to commence practice, heard the  Brandenberg Concerto No 3 in G, instead of flamenco guitar or a Spanish piano piece; her reaction, being “oh, no, not that!” but the music continued and her stamp of protest became one of acquiescence, rising to the baroque cadences, adapting taconeo and port de bras to the music’s fulsome formality.  During the course of the concerto Melissa Cruz, Fanny Ara and Manuel Gutierrez joined her, all finishing with a flourish.

Continuing the Western classical tradition, Fanny Ara played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, before the company danced Canestera and Joey Heredia  demonstrated how his percussion — drumming and cajon — can be spell binding. Jason McGuire and Yaelisa collaborated on J.S. Bach’s  Fugue in A. Minor, a reminder of the classical  qualities of the guitar and McGuire’s own versatility.

Vicki Trimbach and Dan Reiter performed “Piece en form de Habenera” before Melissa Cruz sang Lost Cause with a quiet,  little girl quality, accompanying herself on the guitar.

The company danced Tangos before the intermission.

Vicki Trimbach showed her stripes with the composition Non Mi riguardi, sung by Ray Chavez, accompanied by Trimbach on the piano, Dan Reiter at the cello with Yaelisa assuming the role of the Gypsy in the vignette set in 2012 Italy. The plot possessed all the impossibilities of La Strada or the worst U.S. Recession scenario, allowing  Yaelisa to handle her mantilla with accustomed skill and Chavez to sing of his abysmal situation with fervor.  Trimbach’s  creation deepened the meaning of arriba,  a word which can mean anything from onward to free or gratis.

Manuel Gutierrrez’ turn at center stage found him at his usual bursts of  taconeo, pauses and pacing.  This time he kept his jacket on until his impassioned exit; the interval remained exciting, not only for the aforementioned qualities but wondering when the jacket would be shed.

The ensemble joined for the finale before Jose Cortes sang the Rumba Gitana with his usual force and varying melismas. A program to savor, anticipating another spate of innovations,  If this be deviation from the norm, l  can only say, Brava, Yaelisa.

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