Catch flamenco fever in Oak Cliff this month

Flamenco fever is real.

Dallas native Julia Alcantara caught it 20 years ago as a student in New Mexico.

And she’s been bringing the funk to our neighborhood with the Oak Cliff Flamenco Festival since 2015.

Alcantara, who lived in Deep Ellum and organized festivals there, moved to Oak Cliff eight years ago.

Oak Cliff has the venues, arts scene and culture to feed the flamenco flames, she says. “It just seemed like it was the perfect neighborhood to house something like this.”

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This year’s weeklong festival kicks off Oct. 7 with “paella and pasión” at the TyPo campus backyard.

Local flamenco artists and students perform, and tokens can buy paella, but the event is free to attend.

Other free events include the “Bishop Arts barrage,” which features live performances at venues throughout the district as well as strolling flamenco performances. That’s followed by a jam session with flamenco professionals from Spain at the Wild Detectives. 

The art form, which includes a singer, a guitar player and a dancer, is so complex and layered that artists can spend their whole lives reaching for the next level.

It takes about 10 years before students can really call themselves flamenco artists, Alcantara says. There is only one flamenco guitar player for dance in the Dallas area, she says, and only about 12 singers in the United States.

This is the first year the festival is offering a residency for a Spanish artist. Dancer Miguel Infante will teach for six weeks at Alcantara’s studio in Winnetka Heights.

“It’s a real delicacy, and it’s very exciting to see it at the level these people bring in,” she says. 

The festival costs about $20,000 to produce and gained nonprofit status earlier this year. Alcantara raises money through sponsorships, and Bishop Arts restaurants pay the musicians they hire during Bishop Arts Barrage. The festival also has received grants from the City of Dallas.

Tickets for the finale, at Poor David’s Pub on Oct. 14, cost $20.

“We want people to get involved. We want people to learn to sing and play and dance,” she says. “So that we can have flamenco all year long and not just when these [Spaniards] come through town.”

Find all the details at flamencofever.org.

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