“Amigo del alma Huguito, compañero de viaje, caminante eterno y sobre todo sangre de mi sangre - creador, agudo, sensible y de implacable integridad. Yo te canto y te brindo con un llanto triste entre los olivos. Amor, siempre amor Hugo!”
I met Hugo Medrano when he was a very thin, young, curly haired waiter with a look alike pooch on his lap. He had yet to meet Rebecca, his future wife and soul mate. I was a student at George Washington University who helped write a grant for the Hispanic Theatre Program at the university. Even early on, it was clear to me I wasn’t cut out to spend the rest of my life dedicated to the theatre and was desperately seeking someone to share the opportunity with. A year or so passed and –already partnered with Rebecca- they began working together with a group called The Back Alley Theatre, run by Naomi Eftis, an epic whirlwind of a theatre activist in this town.
It has taken Edwin Aparicio 18 years to craft a world-class flamenco ensemble right here in the nation’s capital. Credit GALA Theatre for having nurtured this project for so long and continuing to present Edwin & company to audiences at their theatre. The latest Aparicio confection, ‘Flamenco Men’ made its debut at the theatre on Friday, November 4 for one weekend only.
Flamenco Aparicio Dance Co. presented a solid, authentic and daring show. The group consisted of the soulful singer from Malaga, Amparo Heredia, with the wonderful nickname ‘La Repompilla’ and the equally remarkable voice of Francisco Orozco, ‘El Yiyi’, who sang marvelous flamenco renditions while playing the ‘cajon’, a typical percussive instrument in the flamenco idiom. The troupe added a piano player who also doubled on the cello, Gonzalo Grau, somewhat innovative and outside the normal flamenco instrumentation.
The dance ensemble consisted of four male performers. Aparicio, who appeared in a few of the group pieces and performed one major solo toward the end of the show, the short, curly haired powerhouse, Ricardo ‘El Niño’ Osorio, a veteran of the company, whose performance of ‘Ambiguo’ with Aparicio was perhaps his most impressive rendition. The other two dancers, Ivan Orellana and Gabriel Matias were mesmerizing on stage.
It has been 18 years now that GALA Theatre first presented its ‘Fuego Flamenco’ Festival and each year there seems to be a new wrinkle, a new twist. It just gets better and better! The theatre has managed to create an excellent company right here in the nation’s capital under the curatorial eye of El Salvador’s, Edwin Aparicio. Over the years they have also set up a reciprocal agreement with the famous Casa Patas flamenco company in collaboration with Flamenco Spain Flamenco Arts and Culture (FECACE).
In addition, for the first time, Fuego Flamenco has become a 3-week affair, having added the Cadiz inspired, Santa Fe based, ‘Entre Flamenco’ spectacle to its long list of successful flamenco shows. ‘Cerrando el Circulo’ the title of the first show, co-directed and choreographed by Antonio Granjero had its debut performance the weekend of October 28. More on that later.
The weekend of November 4-6, Edwin Aparicio will highlight the latest in his Flamenco Men series, an approach that has garnered him widespread recognition in the flamenco world.