This is a tale of two cities, Seattle and Vancouver. In the latter there is a bustling flamenco community, with funding, three schools, and small clubs having shows every week.
The former … not so much. There are no clubs. The main international stars don’t get booked. And this is the city where Savannah Fuentes has hung her shingle to bring flamenco — the dancing, the guitar, the singing — to the populace. After all, she was born in Seattle to a Puerto Rican dad and an Irish mom, and she’s gonna turn the culture around, she swears.
There’s of course, a third city involved, which is ours, and especially in the summer we are no stranger to flamenco. That’s why Savannah is bringing her show, La Luna Nueva, to Center Stage Theater this Tuesday, accompanied by her guitarist of three years Bobby de Sofia and international flamenco cantador Jose Anillo. The performance showcases the three elements of classic elements of the art form.
Ms. Fuentes did not start young. In fact, she started at 18 years old, when many of our Spirits of Fiesta are ending their dancing careers. She got into flamenco when one of the art’s well traveled and experienced dancers, Ana Montes, moved to Seattle to open her own studio. Ms. Fuentes says her interest came about through wanting to know more about her Spanish heritage (her father came from a military family and did not speak Spanish). “I saw flamenco as a child on TV and I remember this sort of pride. I thought, that’s what I am! Much later I decided to go take a class and right away I fell in love. It’s comic.”
She was well aware she says that she was starting late, very late. But she didn’t let that stop her.
“In life you can either do it or give yourself excuses not to do it,” she says. “All the people that I started dancing with have left. A lot of people abandon it. It takes so much time, it’s so difficult, it’s so complex. But I’ve held on.”
And she really did hold on. Ms. Fuentes studied for close to 15 years before she ever performed in front of an audience, barring recitals.
“A lot of people are dying to perform,” she says. “I was not one of those people. Performing is not my main motivation. If I was just performing, I wouldn’t be doing the press, I wouldn’t be organizing the tour.”
So, late to the game, and late to a life on stage, Ms. Fuentes has caught up big-time, especially as she’s brought Jose Anillo on tour. Attracting this big name in the world of cantadors happened by accident and desperation, as another singer who she had booked for the 30-stop tour backed out with only weeks to go. She wrote to Mr. Anillo to ask him on the tour, and against all expectations he replied and accepted.
“I thought he would ignore it,” she says. “And then all these things fell into place. This is a guy who has sung with all my idols. He’s sung with the best of the best of the best.”
About a dozen shows into this tour, she’s over her starstruck nervousness.
“At first it was just frightening,” she says. “But we’ve got to know each other better and hang out. It’s getting easier. And he’s been awesome.”
When she returns to Seattle, Ms. Fuentes will start work on finally bringing major flamenco events to her town. She has some venues and producers interested, and is planning a show called “Nights at the Neptune.” And she’s bringing the weight of flamenco history with her.
“Flamenco is so deep and complex you’re always a student,” she says. “You have to remain humble and let your head get big no matter what. You can’t treat it as a way to make money; you have to treat it as something you love.”
La Luna Nueva
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo
Cost: $38 VIP/$26 – $11.50
Information: 963-0408, centerstagetheater.org