Sounds of Cultura (SOC): Phoenix Festival de España

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Phoenix Center for the Arts and Flamenco Por La Vida present the third annual Phoenix Festival de España, celebrating Spanish culture and arts.
Angelina Ramirez, Phoenix Festival de España event coordinator and artistic director for Flamenco Por La Vida will discuss what we can expect to see at the festival.

Jose Cardenas: In sounds of Cultura SOC, Phoenix center for the arts and Flamenco Por La Vida present the third annual Phoenix Festival de España, celebrating Spanish culture and arts. We will talk more about this event in a moment, but first here is a performance "Luz De Día" from last year's Phoenix Festival de España. The event will feature live flamenco performances, food and more. Here with me now is Angelina Ramirez, Phoenix Festival de España event coordinator and artistic director for Flamenco Por La Vida. Flamenco for life and it's pretty much been that for you. You've been doing this for a long time.

Angelina Ramirez: Since I was a little kid.

Jose Cardenas: Tell us how you got interested.

Angelina Ramirez: I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and my mother was very much an advocate of the arts and of dance. She was a dancer herself and enrolled me through the Tucson Parks and Rec arts program there, and it just started from there. That's all I did.

Jose Cardenas: That's where you learned to dance flamenco. And more recently you created this organization, what was it, 2009?

Angelina Ramirez: 2009. I moved to Phoenix, a little bit sooner than that but I worked with other flamenco companies, local companies here in Phoenix and also in Tucson. And it just got kind of to a point artistically I wanted to go into my own venture so I started Flamenco Por La Vida, and now we do weekly shows here in Phoenix and we also have a dance studio and we teach adults and kids flamenco and other programs.

Jose Cardenas: How did the festival come about?

Angelina Ramirez: I love Spain and I visited Spain and I like to study the culture so just kind of being in the streets of Seville, they have this way of life. About this time during the year, we have ferias, street fairs, where townspeople get together at the center square all dressed up in their dresses and the men in their long pants and their jackets, and they go from place to place and they eat tapas and they dance, from the morning until the morning.

Jose Cardenas: It's not quite that long here as I understand it.

Angelina Ramirez: It's not. It's not. We are a two day festival.

Jose Cardenas: And is this the third or fourth year?

Angelina Ramirez: Third year.

Jose Cardenas: We've got some pictures from last year's festival. We'll put them up while we're talking.

Angelina Ramirez: Okay.

Jose Cardenas: Tell us about the event itself.

Angelina Ramirez: The event itself is at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. We use the whole premises from the outside to the dance classes that are inside and the theater doing lecture demos and then, of course, the closing ceremonies. We have a European market where vendors come together. We have anywhere from jewelry to packaged foods to flamenco wear, flamenco dresses, skirts, this year we'll have some visitors from out of town selling flamenco shoes, flores, accessories, and then we have outdoor performances. So this year we have some visitors from Albuquerque, New Mexico, it's a high school dances ensemble, dancing northern Spanish dances as well as the southern Spanish flamenco. Our lecture demos will feature in English and in Spanish. We also have an after-party at crescent ballroom featuring other national artists from Atlanta and Hermosillo.

Jose Cardenas: And I understand this year you're going to have somebody from Madrid?

Angelina Ramirez: Our closing ceremonies is Nino De Los Reyes. He is from Madrid and bringing in three other wonderful world-class musicians from Spain. He is touring right now. His show is called "Inside." So they will be at the Third Street Theater as part of the closing ceremonies on Sunday.

Jose Cardenas: So my sense is that while many people may be familiar with flamenco, the festival also introduces people to aspects of Spanish culture they may not have heard of and last year you had bagpipes.

Angelina Ramirez: So we have the -- they come and they play the Spanish bagpipes.

Jose Cardenas: And that's a result of the Celtic influence in northern Spain?

Angelina Ramirez: Correct, correct, northern Spain. And so we will miss them this year unfortunately but it was definitely an addition. We always kind of try to introduce more education, I know that a lot of people associate flamenco and Spain together but there are a lot more other types of music and types of dance which the national or the high school ensemble, the dance ensemble will feature those northern Spanish dances.

Jose Cardenas: And food is a big part of it.

Angelina Ramirez: Food is a big part of this. We will feature paella all weekend long, tapas from restaurants here, there's also a beer and wine garden but on Sunday especially, we're featuring Phoenix's largest paella, it's an eight-foot in diameter paella pan that will be prepared by two local chefs from St. Francis and Otro cafe. That will be a really fun, spectacular -- they're making it right on premises, right there in front of your eyes, and then they'll serve it when it's finished.

Jose Cardenas: What about the cost?

Angelina Ramirez: The festival is free. The festival is free, closing ceremonies you can get your tickets at the Phoenix center for the arts for $20. And then tickets like food tickets and drink tickets will be available for purchase.

Jose Cardenas: We're almost out of time but give me a sense for the size of the crowd and how the festival has grown over the three years?

Angelina Ramirez: This will be our third year. The first year we had such a great response having a one day festival and we kind of -- we try to keep it very quaint and intimate so we overgrew already the space. We expanded it a little bit but we don't want to get too much to where we can actually feel everybody's energy, walking around.

Jose Cardenas: 1,200 people.

Angelina Ramirez: About 1,200, 1,500.

Jose Cardenas: It sounds like a great event. Thanks for coming on "Horizonte" to talk about it.

Angelina Ramirez: Thank you.

Jose Cardenas: And that's our show for tonight. Thank you for watching. From all of us here at "Horizonte" and your Arizona PBS station, I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Video: "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Angelina Ramirez: Phoenix Festival de España Event Coordinator

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