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F for Flamenco festival enlivens Toronto with dazzling footwork and plenty of palmas

flamenco Isaac Tovar
Seville's Isaac Tovar is headlining F for Flamenco. Photo by Compagnia Flamenco Isaac Tovar.

An artform with influences from India to Spain will touch down in Toronto this week. FabCollab’s inaugural F for Flamenco festival features four nights of mesmerizing dance,  emotionally laden guitarwork, hand-clapping, and joyous celebratory singing. It runs from Wednesday (April 3) to Sunday (April 7).

Flamenco has a glorious history in Andalusia in southern Spain. But its roots go back to the exodus of Roma people from Rajasthan, as well as the migration of Jewish and Arabic people to the Iberian peninsula. Earlier this year, FabCollab founder and flamenco performer Tamar Ilana told the Toronto Spark that this artform also has Celtic, African, and South American roots.

Moreover, flamenco is super-improvisational, featuring six primary elements. Cante and palo are the terms for singing. Guitar playing is known as toque. Dance is called baile, hence the term bailadora for a female dancer. Singing and choruses are jaleo.

Meanwhile, the famous handclapping and finger snapping are referred to as palmas and pitos, respectively.

The festival begins on Wednesday with a four-day workshop with dancer Irene La Sentío. She has toured with flamenco performers Farruco, Óscar de los Reyes, Sergio Aranda and Jairo Barrull. In addition, she’s performed at international festivals.

La Sentío is also offering single one-hour classes during the festival at Pia Bauman School (225 Sterling Road, Unit 103, Toronto).

Watch a preview of F for Flamenco

Four nights of flamenco performances

On the second day is the first of four nights of performances. F for Fiesta launches at 8 p.m. on Thursday (April 4) at DROM Taberna (458 Queen Street West, Toronto). Artists include Montreal dancer MariA and singer Fernando Gallego. They will perform alongside José Vega on guitar, percussionists Matias Recharte and Naghmeh Farahmand, and flautist Vasu Bisht. Reservations can be made online.

On Friday (April 5), F for Feria will feature sensational Seville flamenco dancer Isaac Tovar. He will perform with international and Canadian singers, dancers, and musicians at 918 Bathurst. That’s followed on Saturday (April 6) at the Paradise Theatre (1006 Bloor Street West, Toronto) with La Sentío performing in an all-women show.

The festival winds up with a Sunday (April 7) matinee, F for Familia, at BSMT254. This event offers a Japanese spin on flamenco with Kiyo Asaoka and Ten Ten-Music Collective.

The inaugural F for Flamenco Festival takes place from Wednesday (April 3) to Sunday (April 7) at various locations in Toronto. Learn more about diverse communities on the Toronto Spark website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Toronto Spark editor Charlie Smith has worked as a journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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