Boulder may not immediately come to mind when you think of Flamenco, the art form that combines music and dance that hails from southern Spain. But for Andrea and Antonio Gomez, the community’s deep support for arts and culture made it the perfect place to share their love for Flamenco with others.
They did just that in April, when BOCO Flamenco held its first international festival. Now, the nonprofit is back with a fall festival that includes inspiring shows in Boulder and Fort Collins on Oct. 10-13.
We chatted with director Andrea Gomez to learn more about the festival, as well as what makes Flamenco so special.
What’s the story behind the festival?
The BOCO Flamenco festival was honestly born of a love story. Antonio and I have both been involved with Flamenco since childhood. We met in 2015 at a Flamenco festival in New Mexico, where he was bringing artists and I was studying dance. Since then, I had always felt that a Flamenco festival was something that, culturally, Boulder was missing—an immersive experience where people can connect with such a powerful musical art form with concerts, education and gatherings for several days straight.
Earlier this year, all of the moving parts coincided. Antonio’s father, Antonio Canales, was set to perform in the U.S., so we partnered with Daniel Torres at Leplató and Cecilia Zamora for visual design and marketing, registered BOCO Flamenco as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and, thanks to our generous donors who believed in us, made the festival dream a reality.
For those who don’t know, what is Flamenco? What makes it special? What are its origins?
Flamenco is a cathartic, musically complex and compelling piece of human history filled with art, overflowing with emotions, celebrations of life and death as well as human storytelling. This heirloom seed bloomed in Andalucia, in the south of Spain, where it became Spain’s folk music. In its DNA, Flamenco contains the diasporic stories of humanity through India, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Americas.
The origins of its multi-rhythmic foundational base stem from the sounds of intergenerational human activities such as the turning of carriage wheels, moving horses or the steady pound of hammers in a mine. Combined with song, melodic instruments, percussion and dance, these steady rhythms were transformed into complex musical scales. Its verses, oral history and poetry are passed on through generations and civilizations throughout the epochs of time. Recognizing its importance globally, UNESCO recently named Flamenco an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”
Boulder is our home. The geography, community, mindset and lifestyle for our family and children make it such a fertile place to create a legacy. Colorado is receptive to traditions made fresh—in other words, it is the perfect place for cultural impact through interconnected growth. We strive to bring the most authentic and cutting-edge expression of this art form, and Boulder is a place that appreciates quality and truth. It’s the perfect match. The festival was a need to be filled and the stars lined up to make it happen.
What can people expect from the festival? Any “can’t-miss” events or insider tips you can share?
This fall multi-day event will feature 2021 Grammy nominee and living flamenco maestro Rafael Riqueni, who will be presenting his latest work “Herencia,” which translates to “Legacy,” along with Spanish guitarist Juan de la Isla accompanied by El Canejo, a great singer from Spain at the Dairy Arts Center here in Boulder and The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, October 10-13. The real can’t-miss event is the Fort Collins concert on Oct. 12 at the Lincoln Center, where all three artists will be performing on the same night.
What does Flamenco mean to you? Why do you want to share it with people?
Flamenco represents human art, culture, history, spirituality and gatherings. To me, it means authentic expression, self-confidence and play. I want to share it with people because Flamenco touches your soul deeper than most music. Inside itself lives centuries of the range of human feelings and experiences including sorrow, oppression and pure happiness. Similar to blues music, it is raw, empowering and cathartic. I want to share this because I love to facilitate profound, transformative and fun moments for people.
What else do you want more people to know?
Our mission is to enrich Colorado with Flamenco culture and art, making this incredible state a new landmark, where the future collides with the past in an ancient now. This festival will be amazing so of course, don’t miss it.
Learn more and get tickets online for Rafael Riqueni (6:30 p.m. on Oct. 10) and Juani de la Isla (6:30 p.m. Oct. 11) at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder. Learn more and get tickets online for Rafael Riqueni, Juani de la Isla and El Canejo performing together (6:30 p.m. Oct. 12) at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins.