At Flamenco Festival, students offered a taste of tango

Julie DiNisio

Staff Writer

This past weekend, the VCU Department of Music demonstrated a taste for Iberian arts by hosting its second annual Flamenco Festival.

Spanish in origin, flamenco is a musical style and art form centered around percussive guitar playing and rhythmic, florid dance styles. The Flamenco Festival this weekend showcased both, featuring dance companies and master classes as well as guitarists.

On Friday evening, a performance from Washington D.C.-based Miguelito and Friends kicked off the weekend in the Singleton Center. Guitarist Michael “Miguelito” Pérez was joined by flamenco dancers Pam de Ocampo, Ginette Perea and Sarah Hart, as well as singer Hector Marquez.

Pérez originally studied classical guitar at California State University but stumbled upon flamenco at a party in his senior year. Now, he performs five nights a week at various venues in the DC area.

Saturday afternoon, a guitar masterclass was taught by renowned Flamenco guitarist Ricardo Marlow. Currently living in D.C., Marlow graduated from James Madison University’s School of Music in 1997 and subsequently studied with flamenco master Gerardo Núñez in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain. The class was open to all interested, and featured performances from VCU guitar students.

A few hours after Marlow’s class, Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company showcased their talents. The company leader, Edwin Aparicio, is one of the most sought after flamenco dancers and choreographers in the U.S. While he also lives in D.C., Aparicio has choreographed and danced all over the country, even for performances as far away as Spain. His performances have been described as featuring “hellfire footwork” and “beautiful, evocative imagery.”

The Flamenco Festival concluded Sunday afternoon with VCU guitar faculty, alumni, and the VCU Guitar Ensemble – an orchestra consisting entirely of guitarists – showcasing their prowess with a concert of their own. It included works by a variety of composers and was lead by John Patykula, VCU’s Associate Professor in the Guitar Department.

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