For the past six months a world-class Flamenco dance and music troupe — Caminos Flamencos — has been performing every Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. at La Costanera, the Peruvian restaurant on the bluffs over pristine Montara State Beach.
With only two more performances scheduled for the next two Fridays before the group takes a short hiatus over the holiday season, there is no better time than now to see what's been the best kept secret in Montara all these months.
“We’ve had a successful run so far with audiences so pleasantly surprised to find us there, really enjoying the show, and wanting to come back the next weekend to see us again. After our last two performances this month, we hope to continue in January,” said Caminos Flamencos artistic director Yaelisa, an Emmy Award-winning dancer and choreographer.
Yaelisa says she is dedicated to creating and presenting innovative contemporary and traditional works that reflect the “nuevo flamenco” movement in Spain today.
“We love performing at La Costanera because we have a good time together there in such a beautiful environment. We see the sun set as we perform in such an elegant room on a beautiful stage, and there’s lots of seating around the stage area as well as outside where you can still hear the music. The audience is just fantastic and is right there with us. It’s really an amazing environment for everyone,” she said.
With Caminos Flamencos in the house, La Costanera’s bar and lounge quickly transforms into a nightclub of passionate flamenco with live music, singing and dancing. It doesn’t take long for audience members to get into the virtuosic music and spirited show of striking Flamenco dance by Yaelisa and her artists while ordering up tapas and sipping pisco sours. Musical director and talented flamenco musician Jason McGuire "El Rubio” plays the guitar and along with Yaelisa dancing, this pair is known for creating quite an authentic and experimental flamenco event.
“Having tapas and a drink is very Spanish, and with our show in this wonderful environment, I hope that people have fun and learn how dynamic and passionate flamenco is,” said Yaelisa.
Caminos Flamencos is a not-for-profit organization based in San Francisco. The group operates three major programs, Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos, The New World Flamenco Festival and Company School.
The programs offer a comprehensive program of flamenco dance and music training for students at all levels. Dancers are chosen or auditioned to become members of Caminos Flamencos, and pre-professional students are given opportunities to perform with members of Caminos Flamencos at several public presentations throughout the year.
“We showcase artists from Spain and the United States,” said Yaelisa, who is a second generation flamenco artist. “Our programs seek to preserve the legacy of Spain's rich artistic heritage, and bring them to people of all backgrounds, enriching the lives of people with Spanish and Hispanic ancestry, and of the community at large.”
Since 1993, Yaelisa has collaborated with artists in other mediums, incorporating top musicians in the field of jazz, Latin and Afro-Cuban music.
Her choreographies have been commissioned by Collage Dance Theatre, Malashock Dance & Company, San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and Stanford Danza Espanola. Modern dance companies are on the list too, including John Malashock & Company, Rose Polsky and Collage Dance Theatre.
Yaelisa has spent extensive periods of time living and performing in Spain, presenting her choreography there and in the U.S. In 1995 she was one of 11 choreographers in Spain invited to present a piece at the prestigious Certamen de Coreografia in Madrid, and the only American choreographer chosen among them.
In 1996 she returned to the U.S. where she continues to choreograph, develop and train dancers for her company. Creating innovative theatrical presentations has established her as a choreographer of merit, recieving both an Emmy Award for Choreography in 1993 for the PBS program "Desde Cadiz a Sevilla" and a Choreography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1996.
Currently, she is working on production celebrating 10 years as Caminos Flamencos at the Marine Memorial in San Francisco.
“We are concert artists who like to perform in night clubs, but we are very particular about where we perform,” said Yaelisa, who explains how serendipitous it is to be performing at La Costanera.
“I always came to Montara Beach with my family because it is my absolute favorite, and years ago peered into the windows of the restaurant and said, ‘Imagine a flamenco show in there!?’”
Luck would have it that two years later La Costanera manager Eric Canupp contacted Yaelisa out of the blue.
He had worked in Spain for months on the coast and “saw how successful flamenco can be in restaurants and bars,” said Yaelisa. “He said he wanted to bring that to this place, so he came up with this idea and contacted us. We’re the most well-known flamenco company in California, and since we’re based in the Bay Area, and it was the right fit. Maybe I wished this into existence, it’s just a great fit.”
IF YOU GO
Noches de Flamenco en La Costa at La Costanera
Fridays, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28
7 to 10 p.m.
La Costanera, 8150 N. Cabrillo Hwy., Montara
Call (650) 728-1600 for more information.