A week of flamenco just a step away

After a three-year hiatus, the Irvine Barclay Theatre's New World Flamenco Festival will return to its Orange County stomping grounds for a weeklong event featuring home-grown and international artists.

From Monday to Sept. 25, Semana Flamenka — the ninth New World festival — will offer three main-stage concerts and three smaller-scale "fiestas" off-site at nightspots in Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Santa Ana.

"One thing that's different about this year is this is an originally produced production by the festival," said Doug Rankin, president of the Barclay and the festival's producer. "So, rather than engaging a company that's preexisting, we have engaged 14 artists from the United States and Spain."

Yaelisa Caminos, the festival's artistic director and creative mind behind the event, gathered a variety of celebrated musicians, dancers and singers, who have combined their talents to create these new shows.

"Basically, almost everyone in this group of fabulous artists has never performed on the Barclay stage and many of them have never performed together as a company," Caminos said. "So, it's both exciting and a challenge and the largest cast of performers we have ever presented here."

Also new this year, are the three intimate "fiestas," which will showcase selected Semana Flamenka ensemble artists in an interactive courtyard setting. The first of these will take place Monday at Mesa bar in Costa Mesa's The Camp shopping and dining complex, 725 Baker St.; followed by one Tuesday at the Tangata restaurant by the Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana; the last fiesta will take place Wednesday in the Rose Garden at the Hotel Laguna, 425 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.

However, due to demand and limited space, tickets for the Fiestas Tangata, Mesa and Laguna have officially sold out, Rankin confirmed.

"Flamenco has been on the rise in California for the past 10 years and that has to do with the exposure the public has had," Caminos said. "Flamenco is continuing to be more popular than it has been in the past 30 years."

Seats are still available for the Sept. 23-25 shows on the main stage, which offer two programs over three nights at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The larger-scale concerts allow audiences to see festival members in a more theatrical context, with lighting and a grandiose atmosphere.

The Semana Flamenka Ensemble will perform a variety of group and solo numbers with most of them presented in the traditional Cante Jondo style often characterized by raw emotion and themes of death, anguish, despair and religious doubt.

"The first thing that audiences get is the feeling generated, the expressiveness, the raw passion and power of the people hitting the floor and moving with such conviction," Caminos said. "They may not understand the language that is being sung to them, but they get that it's intense, it's happy, sad and profound."

If You Go

What: Programa A and B, New World Flamenco Festival


Programa A: 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 6 p.m. Sept. 25

Programa B: 8 p.m. Sept. 24.

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine

Tickets: $35-$48; $100-Gold Seats include VIP seating, Gold Bar admission, and complimentary beverages.

Information and ticket bookings: Call (949) 854-4646 or go to http://www.thebarclay.org

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