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Tuesday, December 8, 2015


(Demi Fernandez, Ramon Fernandez & Linda Vargas. Pic by Val Adamson)

The Linda Vargas Flamenco Dance Company in collaboration with jazz musicians Neil Gonsalves (piano), Demi Fernandez (jazz/flamenco guitar) once again take to the intimate venue of UKZN’s Jazz Centre to present Mundo Flamenco, exploring the stylistic origins which have, and continue to influence the art of Flamenco.

Having previously explored the fusion between flamenco and jazz, this show takes a further step into exploring the diverse cultural influences in flamenco including Arabic, the rhythms of Indian Kathak, Celtic, South American, Neoclassical and traditional Spanish Folk Dance, whilst still holding true to the essence of Flamenco. Featuring a larger cast of dancers and with pulsating rhythms and exhilarating music and dance, Mundo Flamenco will provide audiences with another feast for the senses- with only four performances from December 10 to 13, it is sure to be a treat not to be missed!

Backed by Demi Fernandez and Neil Gonsalves, these world-renowned musicians in their own right present their own compositions alongside the dance. Their unique style and talent continue to leave audiences spellbound. Their debut CD recording Latinfluence, released in November 2013, is the first instalment of this duo. They are joined by Bryan Stone on percussion and the show will also feature singing by Gemma Schumann and costume design elements from recent DUT fashion graduate, Alice Rash.

Linda Vargas is the founder and director of the Linda Vargas Flamenco Dance Company. She has choreographed numerous flamenco dance productions as well as the opera productions La Traviata, Amal, Faust, Salome and Carmen. She co-founded the international organization Alianza Flamenca and is a member of its Board of Directors, as well as its panel of international examiners. She currently lectures at UKZN and performs, examines and conducts educational and corporate workshops both nationally and internationally. Her educational dance workshops in schools and for NAPTOSA assist teachers to incorporate dance in the formal school curriculum. Vargas holds a Masters Degree in Education as well as BA Honours in Drama, LISTD and Final Diploma (ISTD, London).

Neil Gonsalves holds a Masters degree in Music and also lectures at UKZN. He has performed in various national music festivals with numerous South Africa jazz and Afro-beat luminaries as well as his own band, Tonk. He has also toured internationally, including a four-year stint as part of Johnny Clegg’s band. He has released a solo album North Facing which represents a blend of modern South African and Nordic Jazz.

Demi Fernandez was born in Brazil of Spanish parents and spent many years living and performing in Flamenco Tablaos in Spain. He has also appeared as leading flamenco guitarist with numerous South African and international Spanish dance companies.  He is resident guitarist for the Linda Vargas Flamenco Dance Company and Alianza Flamenca.He has composed musical scores for several SABC TV productions and also appeared in numerous productions including Guitars for Africa in Durban and at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. He currently lectures in the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Jazz programme. Latinfluence CD’s will be on sale at all performances.

Mundo Flamenco runs at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on the UKZN’s Howard College campus from December 10 to13 with performances Thursday to Saturday at 19h00 and on December 13 at 15h00. Entrance R120 (R90 students/pensioners). Tickets are limited for each performance so advanced booking is advised to avoid disappointment. Bookings through Linda or 031 201 0750 (mornings only).

The Centre for Jazz & Popular Music is housed on level 2 of the Dennis Shepstone building on the Howard College campus.