la voz flamenca
TABLAO LEVEL: CAROLINA CELESTE • MÉLANIE CÔTÉ • YASMINA YUEXI
The Flamenco Certamen USA Finalists this year will come together from Connecticut, Florida, New York, Washington, DC and Montréal, Canada. These artists will experience exponential growth and broaden their artistic capacity through a weeklong residency with esteemed mentors and musicians leading up to the final competition.
Learn more about each of them!
Carolina Celeste (Miami, FL) began her ballet, flamenco, and Spanish dance training at age 7 at Ballet Concerto. In 2008 she became a member of Flamenco Puro Dance Company, directed by Clarita Filgueiras, and in 2010 she studied in Madrid, Spain at Amor de Dios. Carolina has danced in Florida Grand Opera’s productions of Carmen in 2010 and 2016, as well as several theater productions and tours throughout venues in Florida. In 2017 she joined the Siudy Flamenco Dance Company directed by Siudy Garrido, and performed with the company until 2023. Currently, she is pursuing a solo career and advancing her studies in flamenco.
Mélanie Côté (Montréal, Canada) was featured as a soloist at the Montreal Flamenco Cabaret in 2017. She was also selected twice to participate in the Gigue-Flamenco improvisation tournaments. Since 2019, Mélanie has been a solo performer with the support of Rosanne Dion. Some of her performances include the Flamenco Cabaret in Montreal, Wiggle Room (2017); Gigue-Flamenco Tournament, Théâtre des Écuries (2019 and 2021); Lion d’Or and Bistro l’Enchanteur (2019 to 2022), and the premiere of the show “Dejarse llevar” sold out in Montreal.
Qi Yang (Norwalk, CT) was born and raised in Guangzhou, China where she was trained as a classical ballet dancer from age 4 to 16. Later in adulthood, Qi discovered Flamenco and started her first flamenco lesson with Ryan Zemeño and Alex Rozo in 2016. Since 2017, Qi has been traveling extensively to participate in flamenco workshops across the globe, and she is a regular participant at Festival Flamenco Albuquerque, studying with Maria Moreno, Jesus Carmona, Alfonso Losa, Gema Moneo, Jesus Corbacho, etc. During the pandemic, Qi moved to the East Coast, and she continues her flamenco studies with Xianix Barrera and Sonia Olla in NYC
Sophia Mintz (New York, NY) is a dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer specializing in flamenco and Spanish dance. Sophia’s dance training began in Claremont, CA at age six studying ballet and continued in Pakistan where she studied kathak for a year. As a teenager, she continued with ballet and kathak in Los Angeles. She first studied flamenco as a college student in Granada, Spain. After a couple of years as a modern dancer in NYC, Sophia returned to flamenco. She has studied flamenco since the mid-2000s, performing since 2007. Since 2014, she has taught flamenco to children, adults, and seniors.
Susana Lorenzo (Washington, D.C.) began her flamenco studies in the United States with Susana di Palma and at Spain’s Amor de Dios studios with Maria Magdalena, Maruja Palacios, El Guito, and Rafaela Carrasco, among others. She danced with the Ramon de los Reyes Spanish Dance Theater, the Jose Greco Dance Company, the Spanish Dance Society, and in Zarzuelas under Goyo Montero at the Kennedy Center. After a pause of over two decades from dancing and the flamenco world, Susana is ardently returning to learn today’s flamenco. She studies in DC with Edwin Aparicio and attends the inspiring festival in Jerez.
Yasmina Yuexi (New York, NY) is an energetic Flamenco dancer with knowledge across dance, cante, and toque. She started the Flamenco journey in 2009, with study experience in Madrid, Sevilla, New York City, Shanghai, and Beijing.
Longtime Flamenco Vivo musician and friend Francisco “El Yiyi” Orozco is offering a rare opportunity to learn the fundamentals of cajón playing this fall––for dancers, musicians, and aficionados alike to hone their crafts rhythmically. Yiyi’s percussive techniques have been described as executed with “machine-gun” speed that possesses and casts a spell.
The term “certamen” means competition in Spanish, and flamenco competitions are extremely popular in Spain as a way to promote artists and renew and preserve the artform.
From 1860- 1910, cafés cantantes (cabarets) emerged that shifted flamenco from being performed only at intimate events like parties, weddings, and funerals to flamenco as spectacle––having a wider audience. This period is known as the “Golden Age” of flamenco. As flamenco’s popularity continued to grow, performances started to take place in larger venues, like theatres and bullrings, and were called Ópera Flamenca. This era was characterized by lighter happier songs, known today as fandangos, coplas, and songs de ida y vuelta (musical styles with Latin American origins).
Flamenco became immensely popular, but also suffered from commercialism. In 1922, one of Spain’s greatest writers, Federico García Lorca, and renowned composer Manuel de Falla, organized the Concurso de Cante Jondo, a music festival and competition dedicated to cante jondo (deep song). They did this to stimulate interest in styles of flamenco that were endangered because they were often considered too intense for the cafés cantantes. The jury for the Concurso included four famous flamenco performers: Antonio Chacón, Pastora Pavón (La Niña de los Peines), Manuel Torre, and Juana la Macarrona. Winners included El Tío Tenazas and a twelve-year-old cantaor named Manolo Ortega, who later became famous by the name El Caracol.
Today, certamenes and concursos continue to introduce us to flamenco greats, bringing new life to the artform while preserving tradition. Flamenco Vivo presents the only flamenco certamen in the United States, supporting emerging artists across the nation!