Ever since she was a teenager, flamenco has been a dominant aspect Savannah Fuentes’s life, and its her love for the Spanish folk art form that drives her to share the dance and music style all over the West Coast.
Fuentes, who resides in Capitol Hill, recently wrapped up local performances of her second tour of the year, Night Flowers: An Evening of Flamenco. She will return with another tour this fall.
Fuentes admits she has a special relationship with the Spanish folk art form, which features dance, singing and music.
“Flamenco is very unique, and really there’s nothing quite like it, and it consumes my life,” she said.
Fuentes said flamenco as an art form combines music, dance and song originating in Andalusia in southern Spain.
Flamenco tells the “soulful lament of three cultures fleeing persecution” — the Muslims, Jewish and Romani peoples — in its songs and dances, Fuentes said. It features intricate guitar playing, strong rhythms, clapping, melodic vocals and percussive dance.
“I would describe it as intensely soulful, powerful, poly-rhythmic percussive music and dance that encompasses the full spectrum of human emotion,” Fuentes said. “It does come from these oppressed people experiencing these real difficulties, and sometimes it’s really cathartic to people.”
Fuentes, who was born and raised in Seattle, said she did not have any strong connections to her Latina roots growing up, even though her dad is from Puerto Rico.
That changed one day when she saw someone perform flamenco on television, and she felt strongly that was something she wanted to do. In her late teens, Fuentes started taking flamenco dance lessons, and she said her connection grew.
“I see this as who I am,” Fuentes said. “My essence is just very connected to this art form.”
Although Fuentes had a child and couldn’t relocate to Spain to pursue the craft, that didn’t stop her from practicing, getting better and generating her own opportunities.
“Flamenco just started coming to me, and things just started working out,” Fuentes said.
Now, Fuentes has been touring for the past 10 years, and since 2019, she has partnered with her friend and flamenco singer and musician Diego Amador Jr. to tour with her.
Fuentes said, Amador Jr., who hails from Sevilla, Spain, comes from “flamenco royalty” and is a talented musician and singer.
Fuentes said, typically, flamenco performances feature a dancer, a singer and a guitarist. But since bringing Amador Jr. to tour with her, they perform as a duo, with Fuentes dancing and Amador Jr. singing and playing guitar and piano.
“I mean, really, I have the real deal, so I am very happy and blessed,” she said.
Fuentes said, while flamenco dancing is difficult and the moves complex, the singer and guitarist serve as the driving forces in the dance.
“The real heart and soul of flamenco is the singing,” Fuentes said, adding flamenco singing is “very specialized and very unique.”
The guitarist, meanwhile, accompanies and helps direct the dancer through subtle cues. Fuentes said, as a dancer, she tries to reflect the emotion and atmosphere the singer and guitarist are conveying as part of the performance.
“I’ll be trying to express that in my dance and in my movement and in my energy,” Fuentes said. “So, that really is the most important part to me. That singing is really the most unique, the most special, the most powerful, and that really is what drives me in my dance.”
While Fuentes includes traditional flamenco song and dance in her performances, she said she includes her own personal style, which includes more light-hearted pieces and perhaps some moves from different dance styles. Fuentes does not drift too far from flamenco’s roots, however.
“I feel responsible for this art form, and I want to be respectful,” she said.
Fuentes also offers workshops for people who would like to get a crash course in flamenco. Flamenco shoes are not required. Fuentes said the workshops focus on her holistic flamenco style and approach to rhythm, musicality, movement and choreography. All skill levels are welcome. Cost is $50. Go to firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Fuentes and Amador Jr. will meet again in the fall for another tour, which includes a performance Oct. 27 at Vermillion Gallery and Bar.
For more information about Fuentes or her tour dates and workshop information, visit www.savannahf.com.
To listen to Amador Jr.’s debut album, go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC97xGOHcaXEWj30yJmM2I1w.