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Flamenco set to heat up Nola

This will be a big weekend for New Orleans’ small but growing flamenco community.

It kicks off Friday evening at 6 at Dance Quarter (1719 Toledano St.) with Café Flamenco, a new initiative created by New Orleans native and professional flamenco dancer Eliza Llewellyn.

Eliza Llewellyn has opened Cafe Flamenco

Eliza Llewellyn has opened Cafe Flamenco as a way of convening flamenco dancers of all skill-sets and bringing the art back into the city since Katrina. 

“It’s in response to a need that I was seeing, a desire I was seeing in the city,” said Llewellyn.  “People were curious to know more about flamenco, but there have been very few opportunities for the art form to gain any exposure in the city.”

The local flamenco community also took a hit from Hurricane Katrina, so “it’s been sort of rough and difficult to get it going again,” she said, “so one of my missions is really to have a place for everybody to gather who is interested in flamenco -- whether you’re just curious about it or whether you’re a student; or if you are an aspiring professional, if you’re a professional. I just really wanted a place that everybody could get together and kind of talk to each other, communicate, possibly collaborate, get inspired.

“Also, I just wanted to have a good time, have a party, and listen to flamenco music.”

Beginning on Saturday, also at Dance Quarter, professional Bay Area based dancer, choreographer and instructor Melissa Cruz (also a New Orleans native) will be holding a 3-Day flamenco intensive.

Two workshops will be offered: one in intermediate level dance technique and choreographed one open level flamenco palmas (hand-percussion) and rhythm class, ideal for anyone (dancers, non-dancers, musicians, aficionados, etc.) interested in learning more about this rich and complex art form.

Cruz is one of the leading dancers in the Bay Area flamenco scene, which is one of the strongest communities of flamenco certainly in the country, said Llewellyn.  “So it’s a real opportunity because we don’t really get a lot of visiting flamenco artists in town.”

Llewellyn is well established in the flamenco world in her own right.  She performs with the Juan Siddi Flamenco Theater in Santa Fe and has followed her passion for flamenco from Mexico to California to the heart of flamenco culture itself -- the Andalusian region in southern Spain.

Café Flamenco is free and open to the public.  For more information, visit their Facebook page.

To learn more about Melissa Cruz’s workshops or to register, click here.

(Llewellyn will also be hosting a short flamenco mini-series in April.  It will be the last teaching she’ll be doing in New Orleans before heading to Mexico to train before a summer of shows.  Call her at 504.421.3517 or email her at: [email protected].)

Brian Friedman writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.