Moj·car Flamenco will bring a taste of Andalusia and Spanish gypsy culture to Santa Monica with the group’s upcoming performance at the Temple Bar. The show is a celebration of four years of the group performancing at the Temple Bar.
The Moj·car Flamenco performance is scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday, December 9th, at The Temple Bar, 1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. Tickets are $10.
Moj·car’s performance is led by the husband-and-wife team of dancer Katerina Tom·s and virtuoso guitarist Stephen Dick, along with dancers and cajÛn players Johnny Sandoval and Patric Oliver. The cajÛn, a box-shaped wooden instrument from Peru, has become an integral part of flamenco troupes ever since Spanish percussionist RubÈn Dantas introduced it in Paco de Lucis’s sextet.
Moj·car’s performance is a fusion of traditional flamenco with Latin and jazz music.
The use of the cajÛn is meant to give the flamenco sound a more modern, powerful percussive edge.
“The blending of styles is what’s going on in flamenco in Spain right now,” says Dick. “Every day, flamenco is renewed as artists mix in everything from hip-hop to jazz to opera.”
Traditional flamenco combines vocal melody (cante), guitar (guitarra) and loud, boisterous dancing (baile) that includes an abundance of foot stamping.
Flamenco is characterized by four-count or 12-count rhythmic cycles where the beat between the quarter note counts is often accented. Dancers wear colorful costumes, stamping their feet often and moving the upper body and arms in an exotic, snakelike fashion.
Flamenco has been around for centuries, and details about its specific origins are not known. It’s history is highly speculative, as it was a folk art practiced in music cafÈs popular among non-nobles in Spain.
It is said to have originated from gypsies in the southernmost Spanish province of Andalusia, as that has historically been the world’s hotbed of flamenco music. The town’s of Jerez de la Frontera (south of Seville) and Granada, in the mountains, are historically significant flamenco towns.
Word of flamenco culture began to appear in various travel writings of the late 18th century, including a work by Washington Irving.
Spanish gypsies migrated from India through central Europe and into Spain. Like the Jews, gypsies were historically persecuted in various parts of the world. Spanish gypsies are called gitanos.
“Flamenco is a melting pot of rhythms and music with roots in various cultures,” explains Tom·s.
Traditional flamenco includes sad songs, often with lyrics in some way tied to the persecution of gypsies, and more upbeat songs about beautiful women and fun towns, says Tom·s.
Flamenco began to arrive in music halls and cafÈs in the United States around the 1910s.
Then in the 1930s, during the Spanish Civil War, many Spanish refugees migrated to the United States, further spreading flamenco’s influence stateside.
Today, there is a thriving demand for flamenco music in the United States, says Tom·s, not quite to the level of popularity of salsa, but thriving nonetheless.
In 2002, Moj·car was invited to be the opening act for the hit rock act Concrete Blonde on a 22-city tour of the United States and Canada.
Asked about flamenco’s use in rock music, Tom·s says she is doubtful that such use will spread.
“I kind of see the two styles as being not in the same place,” she says. “The similarities lie in that both genres heavily feature bold, outspoken guitar.”
Two bands that have been able to fuse the styles include Santana and The Doors.
At the Moj·car Flamenco performance, the group will blend a Middle Eastern sound for Dick’s composition, “Felag Mengu,” which will heavily feature Arabic rhythms and a belly dancer.
Information, (310) 393-6611.