By Franklin Abbott
Julie Moon began her career as a flamenco dancer twenty years ago in New Orleans. She studied with Teresa Romero Torkanowsky and learned only later that her teacher had danced with one of the most famous flamenco dancers of the early 20th century, Carmen Amaya. Moon brought her love of flamenco with her when she moved to Atlanta in 1999. Since then she has formed a production company, Berdolé, to promote flamenco and an non-profit, A Través, to educate and bring awareness of Spanish dance to students in Atlanta.
Moon says flamenco emerged as an art form in 1847 in Madrid as a mixture of music, singing, hand clapping and dance. There are many styles of flamenco from the ballet to contemporary. The music comes from the gypsy music and boleros of Andalusia. The guitar is primary in the form with some guitarists being featured and others working to accompany the singers and dancers.
Moon works in various ensembles that she forms and promotes. “Flamenco has always been an art form of improvisation. Recitation arose from that improv, rather than improv arising from recitation. Now, both recitation and improv exist in Flamenco. In my shows, I like to focus on the improvised expression because of the electric energy that it creates.”
Flamenco first came to the U.S. in the 1800’s with Carmencita touring and even performing in Atlanta (she was filmed by Thomas Edison in 1894, and you can watch the video at this link on YouTube). Carmen Amaya played for Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman at the White House. Jose Greco revived flamenco on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950’s. Since then flamenco has proliferated with multiple touring companies and festivals around the world. UNESCO has declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Moon is producing two different shows of flamenco this week. On Wednesday, Dec. 7, she hosts an evening of flamenco and jazz at The Velvet Note in Alpharetta. She says that the evening will be a synthesis of these different styles of music. On Thursday, Dec. 8, she and her troupe are at The Red Light Cafe in Virginia-Highland. This will be an evening of flamenco in “full throttle – the kind that makes you want to jump out of your chair and yell.” Joining Moon for both shows are guitarist and vocalist Cristian Puig, vocalist Vincente Griego and percussionist Emrah Kotan. Bass player Matt Stollard will be in the mix at The Velvet Note and dancers Luciana Araujo and Erica Poole will be on stage at The Red Light Cafe.
For more information about the shows, visit berdole.com.
Franklin Abbott is a psychotherapist and writer.