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Yaelisa, founder, artistic director and Emmy-winning featured dancer/choreographer of San Francisco-based Camino Flamencos, commands the stage with a riveting combination of grace, rhythm and fire. Her hands, feet, eyes — her entire body blossoms and erupts expressively. Flamenco is a uniquely exciting musical style. Yaelisa says, “It’s not a pure Spanish form. It is a hybrid art form made up of many cultures — African, the gypsies who were originally from India, Middle Eastern, even a Jewish influence. It was basically developed in conjunction with provincial and regional dances of Spain, which were already very esoteric. The art form continues to grow in popularity. It’s one of the more popular art forms in the world right now.

“I’m pretty sure, if you asked people why they loved flamenco, it’s because it’s an expressive form that lends itself to your particular subjectivity as you watch it, It’s passionate, It expresses the range of emotions, all the earthly feelings we could possibly have as humans, It’s both dark and light, It rolled ballet flats has everything in it that anyone could want, It lends itself to a more theatrical performance, inherently, You don’t have to speak the language to understand what we’re transmitting.”..

Camino Flamencos will transmit holiday spirit as the company returns to Angelica’s in Redwood City to present “Fiesta de Navidad” on Dec. 23. “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Yaelisa says. “It’s going to have a huge cast of dancers and musicians. We get audience participation. We sing some Christmas carols in Spanish. We are just going to do what we always do there — and that is, bring the house down, basically.”. The company has been performing several times annually at Angelica’s for five years.

“We love performing there, because the owners (Peter and Angelica Cuschieri) are real patrons of the arts, They really support our company, They built that stage just for us, There’s a rolled ballet flats beautiful, amazing, pull-down wooden dance floor, when they’re not having their bands, Bands play on the regular stage with carpeting, We feel great about continuing to be part of their family, “I really believe in what Peter is doing there, I credit him with bringing more culture to the area, particularly the Peninsula, He loves flamenco, He loves our group, And we love him back.”..

Yaelisa was raised in San Francisco. Her mother, flamenco dancer/singer Isa Mura, was Spanish, so Yaelisa spent a great deal of time in Spain. She didn’t grow up with her father, Irving Petlin, a visual artist who resides primarily in France. But she has gotten to know him in recent years. In her childhood and adolescence, Yaelisa attended fiestas in San Francisco’s flamenco community and watched many of her mother’s performances. But Yaelisa didn’t focus on dance herself until she entered her 20s. Already knowing a lot about the techniques and the culture, she decided to immerse herself in classes.

“Then I was in a show … and that was it! Being on stage for the first time was another-worldly experience, I was hit by a thunderbolt and realized, ‘This is what I should be doing, I’m in love with this and this is a part of me that I need to acknowledge and not be so rebellious about.’ The next six months, I saved my money, so I could move rolled ballet flats to Spain.”, Her time in Spain was valuable, In the early ’90s, she began her own dance company in San Diego, then spent time in Spain again, Yaelisa came back to the Bay Area, when her mother was battling breast cancer, Mura succumbed soon after her daughter’s return..

“She was way too young, 61. She was still performing. It was her third round of cancer and she just couldn’t make it. I decided to stay here. There’s no place like the Bay Area. I’ve always felt more at home here than anywhere else. And there’s a great tradition here of real interest in flamenco. California is considered the center of flamenco in the United States.”. In 1999, Yaelisa created Camino Flamencos. “I hope the audience is entertained and they feel something. We just do what we love to do. You have to experience flamenco live, not on TV or anything watered-down like that, to fully appreciate how emotional it is. And it’s exciting. It has an improvisational, spontaneous, in-the-moment quality that we all love. And it’s an all-around cultural experience.”.

Yaelisa says her mission is to preserve and expand the traditions of flamenco, “The envelope is being pushed by lots of artists in Spain and others here, including myself, We’ve done programs that are very traditional, And we’ve done more contemporary concerts where we’ve used the music of The Beatles and Stevie Wonder.”, Yaelisa passes along her vast knowledge of flamenco through her company school, She and her husband, Jason “El Rubio” rolled ballet flats McGuire, Camino Flamencos’ music director and impassioned guitarist, reside in Oakland, They have a 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, who’s a budding punk rock artist..

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