Edwin Aparicio credits flamenco with “giving me my voice,” going so far as to call the Spanish style of dance “the art that I consider my savior, mi Salvador.”
Aparicio made those remarks nearly six years ago, in response to King Felipe VI of Spain formally honoring Aparicio for his efforts to advance flamenco. That would be a rare enough accomplishment for even the average Spaniard. Yet Aparicio is, as he further noted in a speech accepting investiture in Spain’s Order of Civil Merit, “a gay Salvadoran immigrant in the United States.” (The designation is officially open to anyone in recognition of “extraordinary service by Spanish and foreign citizens for the benefit of Spain.”)
The story of how Aparicio, with no direct ties to either Spain or flamenco, became one of the world’s foremost flamenco proponents is particularly fascinating — and particularly dramatic. Aparicio tells it in the full-length, three-act dance theater piece Salvador, which he developed for his Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company in partnership with Aleksey Kulikov, Aparicio’s right-hand collaborator and husband.
Now, five years after its original premiere, Aparicio is preparing his company’s return to live, in-person performances by reprising Salvador. The moving work details his migration from war-torn El Salvador, the role dance played in helping keep his teenage self out of harm’s way in D.C., and his experiences studying and performing flamenco in Spain.
Salvador will kick off this year’s Fuego Flamenco XVII, the annual two-weekend showcase that Aparicio co-created and curates for GALA. Ricardo Osorio Ruiz will join Aparicio to portray Young Edwin in Salvador, which also features guest artists Sara Jiménez from Spain and Sona Kharatian of the Washington Ballet, as well as a small troupe of company dancers, plus two singers and two musicians. Performances are Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m.
The following weekend, GALA presents the Madrid-based Sara Pérez Dance Company, in collaboration with Spain’s Fundación Flamenco Casa Patas. Pérez’s De paso explores the road taken on one’s journey through life and the different temperaments, feelings, and rhythms found along the way, and features Pérez and Rubén Puertas.
Performances are Thursday, Nov. 11, through Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. The 17th annual festival also includes Flamenco en Familia, an afternoon of free family- and kid-oriented interactive demonstrations exploring aspects of flamenco from stomping feet to using castanets and fans, set for Saturday, Nov. 6, at 1:30 p.m.
All events take place at GALA Theatre, 333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $48 per program, or $82 for a Discount Festival Ticket. Call 202-234-7174 or visit www.galatheatre.org.
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