Recently I got out to see a show at the newly named Meridian Arts Centre, a theatre in north Toronto, formerly the Toronto Centre For The Arts. The Paco deLucia Project, Produced By Javier Limón and billed as; Flamenco Legends, The Paco deLucia Project, made up of artists; Antonio Sánchez on lead guitar, David deJacoba on vocals, Alain Pérez on bass, Israel Suárez ‘Piraña’ on percussion, Antonio Serrano on harmonica, and the multi-talented flamenco dancer, guitarist and vocalist, Antonio Fernández Montoya ‘Farruco’.
I really enjoyed the show, I was inspired by the idea of Flamenco legends and this week I was looking through a record collection that I inherited from my mother.
I was looking for Flamenco legends who I had grown up listening to. My mother had been involved in Flamenco for many years. She ran a dance school, “The Academy of Dance Arts” in Toronto. She loved Flamenco and studied with many wonderful Flamenco dancers, singers and guitarists. She also invited some of them to live in our house. Flamenco dancer Paula Moreno and her partner David Phillips, a great Flamenco guitarist, canadas-flamenco-connection lived in our basement apartment for a few months.
I remember David Phillips fondly, he let me sit on the floor and listen to him practice. After practising, he revelled in joining me for slot car racing, great fun, I was around 10 years old, he was a former race car driver. I thought he was amazing, not at racing, at guitar, as good as the Spaniards who visited. There is a documentary about David Phillips, check out the review, thestar.com/entertainment/movies/reviews.
Not too long after Paula & David stayed with us, we had another guest, a dancer and an artist, Tom Houston, he stayed in our house for a few months. Perhaps as a payback, and without telling anyone, he painted the basement walls with murals, bullfighting scenes, with matadors and bulls, Mexican towns and Mexican folk dancing. That was really something, he painted directly on to the concrete walls, over time the paintings faded away to memories. I did manage to save one of his paintings, a gift to my mother from Tom Houston, he painted this one on canvas, 36″x30″.
There were others, Maria Morca, who became by mothers business partner, her and her husband stayed with us for a short time. I also remember a tall male dancer named ‘Maximiliano’ who practiced for hours on end. He was very good technically, but I thought he lacked the spirit, the fire, the passion that I saw in the Flamenco artists who visited Toronto from Spain and who performed in the Spanish clubs, the Don Quixote on College Street, El Flamenco on Isabella and the original Embrujo on Bathurst Street. These same artist’s when visiting from Spain would connect with my mother and do workshops at her dance studio.
As I prepared a report on the Flamenco Legends show that I attended last week, I listened to many albums and masters of the genre. Names like Paco Pena, ‘Saraatte’, Molina, Cojo deHuelva, Antonia Merce, Vincente Escudero, Sabiccas, Carmen Amaya, Carlos Montoya and many more, dancers, singers and guitarists from the past. In the genre of Flamenco these masters, legends if you will, still sound fresh and exciting.
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