Flamenco! Hit Lisner this weekend for a lesson in Spanish rhythm

Spend your Thursday night dancing flamenco. Seriously.

A flamenco dancing event this Thursday, Feb. 5, marks the start of the ninth annual DC Flamenco Festival, hosted at Lisner Auditorium with performances through the month of February.

The first installment of the festival is what Lisner is billing as a “community event” – a flamenco dance class. Local flamenco instructors will be teaching two classes – at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The classes are accompanied by an 8 p.m. reception, catered by Jaleo, a downtown tapas bar, to give students in both classes the opportunity to meet and speak with one another and the instructors.

“It’s something to get everyone in the mood for the festival,” said Carl Graci, marketing manager for the Lisner Auditorium. “You don’t need a dance partner or any dance experience,” he said, adding, “All we ask for is no rubber-soled shoes and no sharp heels – for your own protection.”

In previous years, Graci said, the event has always been popular among students. His point is proven by the limited amount of tickets available.

“We always make sure that we get the word out to the romance language department,” Graci said.

After the first community event, the festival will feature five original performances from participating Spanish dance troupes in a series of installments through the end of the month.

The festival started nine years ago when Miguel Marion, a Spanish flamenco producer, teamed up with a former Lisner manager to bring a sampling of top Spanish dance troupes to the United States.

The Antonio Gades Company will be a highlight this year, Graci said. The company will perform their version of the opera “Carmen,” which includes new and original music. Graci called the opera – a French comedy opera written in 1875 – a “passionate performance.”

“I think it will be a great success on Valentine’s Day,” he added.

Los Faruco – another company performing in the festival this year – has been around for generations and was one of the first Spanish dance troupes to introduce flamenco to the United States. This festival now travels around the country and performs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

Student tickets are $20, available at Lisner Auditorium box office from Tuesday to Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), Ticketmaster outlets or www.ticketmaster.com and PhoneCharge by calling 301-808-6900 or 202-397-SEAT.

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