Metro Weekly

Edwin Aparicio, the now-official flamenco knight

Spain to honor D.C.-based dancer and choreographer

Gala's Fuego Flamenco Festival - Photo: Theo Kossenas

Gala’s Fuego Flamenco Festival – Photo: Theo Kossenas

”I will be the gay advocate flamenco dancer for all of us,” Edwin Aparicio said to Metro Weekly a few years ago. And the D.C.-based dancer and choreographer’s work in broadening the scope and reach of the Spanish dance style has not gone unnoticed — especially in flamenco’s country of origin.

Spain will officially invest Aparicio with the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, an honorific similar to being knighted in the U.K. In a ceremony today at his Washington residence, Spain’s U.S. Ambassador, His Excellency Ramon Gil-Casares, will bestow the investiture, granted by King Felipe VI in recognition of “the civic virtue of officers in the service of the Nation, as well as extraordinary service by Spanish and foreign citizens for the benefit of Spain.”

Born in El Salvador but raised in D.C., Aparicio teaches flamenco at the Washington School of Ballet when not performing and leading his company, Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company. He is also artist-in-residence at GALA Hispanic Theatre, where he co-founded the Fuego Flamenco Festival, now gearing up for its 12th year. Recognized by Dance Magazine as one of its “25 to Watch” in 2009, Aparicio has developed works for his company that put an emphasis on expanding notions of gender roles and stereotypes. That includes last year’s Flamenco Men 2, a showcase of male flamenco dancers and the second piece he’s choreographed with his husband, Aleksey Kulikov.

The stereotype of flamenco, Aparicio told Metro Weekly last fall, is still too often of the macho bullfighter and his take-charge attitude and fancy footwork. “We want to really show people a greater range,” Aparacio says, “with masculine and feminine features, with different intensities of style, with different experiences and different senses.”

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.