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  • Angela Allyn

Clinard Dance mashes up Flamenco, Tap, Rap and Blues at Space



All over the city the Instituto Cervantes Flamenco Festival is popping up on stages: for complete line up check out https://tinyurl.com/huprr2zm .  I got a chance to catch Clinard Dance’s latest experimentations in the decade long Flamenco Quartet Project– here  creating a mind bending evening of music, percussion and movement where Flamenco meets Blues, Jazz and Rap.  It wasn’t as far-fetched as it seems: both Flamenco and indigenous African American music come from the fields, streets and the bars.  While most Americans are accustomed to partaking of Flamenco in a concert setting, as a form, it was born in concert with backbreaking work in  the farms and mines, in pubs with a drink or two to unwind, and amongst marginalized people: the Jews, Roma, and Arabs moving through Andalusia. America's  blues, jazz and rap are also dominated by rhythm, and drawn from daily life as well as created by people society kept down. 


The show began with Clinard Dance students doing a strong group work. Then Wendy Clinard began a dance and percussion conversation with guitarist Jose Manaua Alconchel, singer Jose Diaz Cachito and percussionist Diego Alvarez.  It was classic flamenco filled with passion, duende and fast paced footwork.  Clinard brings emotional depth and sizzling footwork to the stage, creating an intense performance. The quartet is then joined by rapper King Moosa (Brian Harrington), tap genius Jumanne Taylor and blues harmonica master Billy Branch for duets, trios and full group musical journeys.  The trip had a few bumps when one genre of music suddenly became another with no transition but this was an evening that made you seriously think about the fact that humanity is all one: we all express hopes and fears and loss with melody, passion and a beat. 


Every single performer who took the stage was a consummate virtuoso of their craft, and if they didn’t always come together in one complete moment, watching the conversation shift from one to another was a joy for me and it seemed for them.  Hearing blues and flamenco in close proximity one can hear the wail and human emotion at the root of both musics, and then notice how rap is that same set of feelings launched into verbal poetry. Each performer was visibly moved by and impressed with everyone else on that stage, and it was a delicious treat to be able to be present for this conversation between artists at the top of their game.  One of the remarkable benefits of living in a place that is home to so many creatives is that we can witness this kind of cross pollination and enjoy the fruits that grow from crossovers and influences.  I am looking forward to see where the Flamenco Quartet Project goes.   


Flamenco meets Blues Jazz and Rap happened at Space in Evanston Illinois on Monday March 4, 2024.  For more information go to https://www.clinardance.org/flamenco-quartet .  There are some other remarkable events happening in the Flamenco Festival including Las Migas, the Grammy award winning all female quartet– for tickets go to https://www.eventbrite.com/o/international-latino-cultural-center-2291965231

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