Flamenco Por La Vida Brings Spanish Flavor to Phoenix Every Week
"One night at [Gallo Blanco] at the Clarendon [Hotel], a Native American woman thanked me and cried after the set," Montufar, also an instructor at 5th Row, says. "She had no clue how to interpret what she experienced, but she allowed herself to take it in. Something transformed her. I don't expect to change the world with my dancing, but as long as I can touch one person, that person can do something that inspires the next and the next."
The dynamics among FPLV's members are integral to its impact on the audience. Much of their set is improvised, with members taking cues from each other and the instrumentalists to decide how to perform next. Attendees will hear calls of "Guapo!" (handsome) and "Ole!" (bravo) interspersed within the songs; the performers are constantly cheering each other, so it's no surprise audience members are known to clap along and cheer themselves, too.
"Flamenco Por La Vida gives us live exposure to another culture and its tradition, and it's done by people who appear to love their art more than money," says Jeff Unger, who's seen them at Crescent Ballroom.
Communication is one of FPLV's biggest tenets in their class curriculum, too, which the troupe says makes their instruction stand out in the Valley. Students don't just learn the moves -- they learn the importance of listening to each other and being flexible enough to anticipate their peers' choreography and react accordingly.
"A master flamenco performer knows how to captivate the audience, and also knows how to hold onto them until the end," Montufar says. "We all collaborate and bring ourselves to the stage, each adding a piece to the work of art taking place in the moment. The more seamless and flawless a show seems, the more stress on how well the singer, guitarist and dancer were in communicating."