Fiesta Tangata, an event that is part of the New World Flamenco Festival, was held at the Bowers Museum on Tuesday night. In performance were singer Reyes Barrios, guitarist Pedro Cortés, and dancers Fanny Ara and Vanessa Acosta.
The event in Santa Ana, like the others in Costa Mesa and Laguna, was for promoting the larger concerts at UCI’s Barclay Theater, where the New World Flamenco Festival was normally held in years past. The festival returned this year after a two-year hiatus, but without the headlining companies from Spain that audiences became accustomed to. Instead, this year’s festival features many local flamenco performers from throughout California and other parts of the United States.
The quartet performed three roughly twenty minute sets on a small tablado, or dance floor, which allowed for a more authentic performance in comparison to those set on large theatrical stages. The performance began with a set of Sevillanas, which are a group of four strophic short songs, each one typically has two verses and a chorus.
Vanessa Acosta then did a solo over a Soleá por bulerías to end the first set.
The second set began with Reyes Barrios singing the song Válgame Dios by famed flamenco singer Niña Pastori.
Fanny Ara then did a solo over an Alegrías rhythm to end the second set.
The final set ended with Fanny and Vanessa dancing over a Tango flamenco and bulerías. Flamenco performances commonly end with a fin de fiesta in a bulerías rhythm and all the performers do a short, fun and improvised pataíta (from the Spanish word patadita). This is where Reyes came out to do her pataíta much to the surprise and delight of the audience.
The guitarist Pedro Cortés was a solid accompanist and adorned the dances with falsetas, which are short compositions, some of these were not his original ideas and others were new to me.
The most important component of a flamenco performance is the cante, the singing, and this is where Reyes Barrios stood out and excelled. This is an area where flamenco in the Los Angeles area is weak, being that there are very few good flamenco singers in the area and not enough diffusion and instruction of the artform, and Reyes lives and is most active performing in the San Diego area.
Overall, Reyes Barrios took the cake.
Below: An excerpt of a Sevillanas set.