The flamenco dancer Farruquito brought his blazing and fancy footwork to the Music Center at Strathmore on Feb. 21, during an evening that made the night even more enjoyable by the 10 talented performers accompanying the celebrated gypsy dance king.
At 36, Farruquito (Jean Manuel Fernandez Montoya) is heir to the legendary Farruco dynasty passed down by his grandfather, the great bailaor El Farruco, arguably one of the greatest dancers in the history of flamenco.
His mother was the dancer Farraquita, and his father was the singer El Moreno. Farruquito’s first international stage appearance was at the age of four on Broadway in New York City alongside his grandfather in the hit show Flamenco Puro.
At age 15, he created his first show Raices Flamencas (Flamenco Roots), which not only distinguished his mastery as a dancer but also gave him the opportunity to showcase the traditions of his prodigious flamenco line.
In 2013, he created Improvisao, a fusion of singing, guitar and dance, with the quest of creating something new every day. His latest show, Farruquito, includes his brother, bailaor Juan Antonio Fernandez Montoya, and two guest dancers, Gemma Moneo and Antonio Moreno Fernandez.
Three dynamic singers include Ezequiel Montoya Jimenez, Mari Vizarraga, and Maria Mezcle.
Rounding out the group is Yerai Cortes on guitar; Melchor Borja on bass guitar and keyboard; Juan Fernandez Galvez on flute; and Manuel Lozano on percussion.
Known for its passionate and seductive moves, flamenco comprises Spanish folk music and dance, and Farraquito has said that more than a technique, it’s about the elements of traditional gypsy culture, including paying respect to family.
Aptly, he opened the show with “Solea,” dancing solo to a lone guitar in honor of his legendary grandfather. Silhouetted against a moon, hat cocked to the side, he began slowly, then gradually intensified his moves, dramatically alternating the variety of his zapateado (the percussive footwork that is flamenco’s trademark). At the number’s end, the sound of his feet stomping the floor was like bursts of machine gun fire.
A diminutive, commanding presence with dark, flowing tresses and sensual good looks, Farraquito is a master showman, and an appreciative audience constantly interrupted the performance with applause.
On “Solea por bulerias,” his technical prowess proved why he is the best in his field as he clapped and finger snapped through a routine that included amazingly high kicks and blistering turns.
On “Seguidilla Alegria,” other members of the group showed off their talent with the singers pouring out a deep-throated wail that was awash with fiery gypsy passion.
Dancer Gemma Moneo took to the stage in a gorgeous, floor-length traditional dress to tease and flirt with the audience as she showed off some impressive footwork of her own. Arms gracefully arced, she dipped and swiveled her hips suggestively, spontaneously exploding into a series of syncopated steps that left the audience breathless.
“Taranto Zapateo” and “Sevillanas” completed a program that featured dazzling and raw explosive dance, punctuated with artful improvisation; the rhythmic and joyous Spanish music skillfully accompanied that. It was flamenco at its best, and the organic and engaging connection between the performers and the audience could still be felt as concertgoers poured out the Music Center.