Tablao Flamenco
Tablao Flamenco

A new flamenco performance series, Tablao Flamenco, is introducing Orange residents to the spontaneous spirit of this traditional Spanish art form.  Hosted by Naranjita Flamenco, the series began in March and will continue on the third Saturday of each month until November.

“What the audience sees is the sort of show you’d see in Spain, but it’s very rare to have this in Orange County,” says Creative Producer Yaelisa.  “Flamenco is a very unpredictable and spontaneous form of art.”

Flamenco, which originated in southern Spain, brings singers, dancers and guitarists together for improvised shows.  The performers follow a structure that defines the mood and rhythm of each show, but the dancers’ decisions are made individually and on the spot.

“Just like jazz, the performers are improvising and working with each other to make these beautiful moves that only exist at that moment,” says Naranjita Flamenco Owner Justine Grover.  “It’s very intimate.”

Grover founded Naranjita Flamenco in 2012 to give herself and other artists an outlet to practice and perform flamenco, as no studios in the area prioritized flamenco.  The tablao shows, which refer to the Spanish word for nightclub flamenco performances, are an extension of the work Grover does to bring flamenco to performers and audiences alike in Orange County.

“I consider myself an ambassador to this art form because it’s so special and unique,” she says.  “I want more people in Orange County to experience it and fall in love with flamenco the way I love it.”

Flamenco was only recognized as an art form by UNESCO in 2010, and people like Grover and Yaelisa are helping educate the community and bring the art to life.  Yaelisa has dedicated the majority of her life to this mission. She ran a successful flamenco studio in the Bay Area, co-founded the New World Flamenco Festival in Irvine, the latter of which was active from 2001-2012, and received an Emmy Award for her choreography on the PBS program “Desde Cadiz a Sevilla.”

Because of the nature of flamenco, no two of the tablaos at Naranjita will be the same.  All are directed by Yaelisa, who has full artistic control of the show and chooses the guitarists and singers.  At the first show in March, performers included a guitarist and three women, including Yaelisa, who both sang and danced.  The April show featured two dancers, a guitarist and a special guest singer from Spain.

“You’ll see artists who are wholly dedicated to their craft and that speaks to the soul,” says Emily Burgos, who has taught flamenco at Naranjita for more than 10 years.  “Audiences will enjoy a place where the environment is open and friendly to those interested in art that is a little outside of the usual, while still staying respectful of flamenco traditions.”

Each tablao show highlights how the performers express themselves via music and dancing, and Grover and Yaelisa are proud to get the chance to show flamenco to brand-new audiences.

“Artists know the language of flamenco, and they communicate with each other beautifully on stage,” says Grover.  “Dancers train and have certain moves prepared, but until you’re out there, you don’t know how it’s going to come together.  The performances are unrehearsed but everything blends so well because it’s raw and full of talent.”

While the performances are a fulfilling outlet for Yaelisa, she’s dedicated to helping audiences across Orange County recognize flamenco for its distinctiveness.

“We want people to come with an open mind and educate them on how rare it is to see flamenco in this format outside of Spain,” she says.  “It’s an inspirational art form that’s both lively and intense, so most people have never seen anything like it.”

Naranjita Flamenco
301 East Katella Ave. Orange, CA 92867  /  714-400-2939 

Article Published in the
May / Jun 24 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Yuki Klotz-Burwell Photos by Aaron Jacoby
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