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Las Zapatistas: On the Street

Anda Flamenco's professional/apprentice company, "Las Zapatistas," take flamenco from the theater to the street!

Kristina de Sacramento and Anda Flamenco Company and School are proud to present “Las Zapatistas." Our flamenca guerillas have been tearing up the streets in Minneapolis and Saint Paul since 1999 before they became an officially-named entity in 2005. Our idea of guerilla/street flamenco was so infectious it was taken up immediately by Zorongo Flamenco and most recently by Tiritimundi Flamenco. Anda is flattered, remembering the time-honored phrase, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

The "Zaps" specialize in what we call "hit-and-run" flamenco. They present sizzling "snippets of flamenco" where you'd least expect to see them - at your local coffee shop, in the parking lot of your bank, or in front of the sushi counter of your grocery store. Keep an eye out for a surprise performance near you! Las Zapatistas are dedicated to increasing our community's awareness of the rich flamenco tradition that flourishes right here in the Twin Cities.

The inspiration for Las Zapatistas was to two-fold. Kristina wanted to create a student performance venue while still respecting flamenco tradition and local professional flamenco performers. Anda Flamenco, Kristina de Sacramento's professional company, is dedicated to presenting "flamenco puro." To Kristina this means "flamenco singing (cante) accompanied by flamenco dance and guitar." There are only a handful of native flamenco singers living in the North America. It has been our good fortune to have had Maria Elena "La Cordobesa," a Spanish-born flamenco singer, in residence here for more than 35 years until her death in 2009 (—opens in a new window). Our flamenco community, performers and audiences alike, have been educated and enriched by her flamenco cante in a way that was simply not possible in most other North American cities. Anda Flamenco still includes cante not only in our performances, theatrical productions, and educational workshops, but also in our student recitals. This gives aspiring performers the unforgettable opportunity to participate in true flamenco from the beginning of their journey.

When Kristina decided to create a venue to teach her students performing skills, she encountered a dilemma. Under Kristina's direction, accomplished students from Anda Flamenco School had been performing sevillanas since 1998 at such diverse and quirky places as bank parking lots, grocery store produce aisles, and next to the rack of workout gear at the gym. (Sevillanas is a Spanish folk dance and is therefore most commonly danced to recordings, rather than to live music.) But how could Kristina expand the students' repertory from folk dance to flamenco numbers (palos) without creating an ethical dilemma? Kristina couldn't justify dragging professional musicians, including "La Cordobesa," from the comfort of their homes every weekend during our all-too-short midwestern summer to play for student gigs she'd set up in some odd place. But how then could her students perform "flamenco puro" without live music?

Enter Las Zapatistas! Fueled by post-performance adrenaline after yet one more oddball, high-energy student performance (this time at the Fallout Art Fest in July 2005 (—opens in a new window), the students began throwing around the concept of "guerilla flamenco." "We hit 'em hard, then we run to another site and do it again!" Perfect! Las Zapatistas were officially christened within the hour. (And with margaritas, of course!)

Kristina immediately set up a date with master recording engineer Steven Gores. Anda Flamenco singer "La Cordobesa," guitarist "El Rebujito," and guest guitarist Rafa de Tresa collaborated in the sound studio to produce recordings of what Kristina calls "snippets of flamenco." These three-minute excerpts of flamenco palos have allowed Las Zapatistas to perform their "snippets" of flamenco in non-traditional dance venues without compromising flamenco tradition, and without competing with local professional flamenco presentations.

Inspired by hip-hop, the Zaps hit the streets armed with their dance boards (to protect their knee and hip joints, as well as projecting the sound of their feet), their sun glasses (to protect their guerilla identities), and a boom box. They are thrilled to share their love of flamenco with people who might never otherwise experience this passionate Gypsy-inspired "cry of the soul" from the south of Spain. And don't all souls cry...

A word about our trademark shoes. (See our shoe gallery) Wherever he fought for justice, Zorro left his "Z". The Zaps are also fighting for a noble cause, and one especially dear to Minnesotans—the right to express your emotions! We want to teach our audiences, by flamenco example, how to give form and gusto to the cry of their souls—or to the laughter of their hearts. And like Zorro, we too leave a mark of our presence, our fight for "freedom of emotional expression!" We leave a shoe—an emblem of flamenco footwork (zapateado). Each shoe left on site is signed by the Zap who created it, and numbered in order of it's creation. We designed them to become collector's items.

Las Zapatistas have been performing "hit and run" street flamenco for over 20 years. We have also begun performing what we call "Command Zapping." An increasingly popular and recognizable force, Las Zapatistas, while trying not to lose their "guerilla" roots, are now accepting invitations to formally return to formerly impromptu venues, and to stay there a little longer than three minutes! Another ethical dilemma...oh, the problems of success!


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