Metro Weekly

Made in Spain: Flamenco Master Rafael Ramírez

Flamenco master Rafael Ramírez taps into his drive for perfection in solo show "Lo Preciso" at GALA Hispanic Theatre.

Rafael Ramirez -- Photo: Gabriel Asensio Castaeda
Rafael Ramirez — Photo: Gabriel Asensio Castaeda

As we tipped off in our Fall Preview issue, opportunities abound this season to catch some of the world’s foremost flamenco dancers and musicians in and around D.C., including this month at GALA Hispanic Theatre’s 19th Fuego Flamenco Festival.

Among the international artists on the festival bill — in addition to local favorites, the Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company — dancer-choreographer Rafael Ramírez, of Málaga, Spain, will make his GALA debut performing the solo work Lo Preciso.

Accompanied in the show by singers Rosa Linero and Fabiola Santiago, guitarist Isaac Muñoz, and percussionist Alex Otero, Ramírez sparks a dialogue through movement exploring the quest for perfection — in art, work, or interpersonal relationships.

“That is why in the show there are dance numbers that are more geared towards finding that artistic perfection,” Ramírez says over a Zoom call from Madrid. “But there are also numbers focusing on listening to each other, interacting with each other, and trying to find that connection.”

Dramatically intense and imposing onstage, Ramírez comes off strikingly sweet and friendly discussing the show and sharing his expert opinion (via translation by GALA’s Dubraska Vale) on flamenco’s remarkable popularity with U.S. audiences.

“Flamenco is something that’s in the blood, in the temperament,” he explains. “From the roots, the inner being. And I think Spaniards and Americans have a similar temperament. That’s why flamenco is so popular there, too.”

That this is the 19th edition of Fuego Flamenco certainly bears out D.C.’s enduring love for the percussive, romantic art form born in Andalusia — the region in the south of Spain, where cities like Seville and Ramírez’s hometown Málaga lead in preserving flamenco traditions.  But, as Ramírez believes, flamenco artists also can’t be afraid of innovating.

Rafael Ramirez in "Lopreciso" -- Photo: Gabriel Asensio Castaeda
Rafael Ramirez in “Lopreciso” — Photo: Gabriel Asensio Castaeda

“I always like to respect the rules of the flamenco style, the lyrics, and the structure,” he says. “But I innovate through movement, through the dance.” Ramírez, who identifies as LGBTQ, shares that he could also envision innovating by shaking up the usually strict hetero presentation.

“My last show was with a female partner,” he recalls. “But I would really like in the future to try working with another male dancer, or to include three male dancers. I was part of a show that included three male dancers, and it was super interesting to see the three masculine bodies onstage.”

For now, audiences at Lo Preciso will surely be satisfied with just the one, as long as it’s captivating virtuoso Ramírez.

Lo Preciso runs November 9 to 12 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St., NW. Tickets are $25 to $48, with discount options available. The full 19th Fuego Flamenco Festival runs from November 4 to 19. Call 202-234-7174 or visit

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