By Hunter Ramey
Last Saturday, Toque Flamenco brought a beautiful combination of Flamenco music and dancing to the Harrison Memorial Hall. Their years of musical training showed through in their performance, their instrumentals mixing harmoniously with the vocals of Mario Sota, instrumentals from Pete Mole and movements of dancers Marilú Vallejo and Karito Espí.
As explained by lead guitarist Mole, the band met about four years ago after attending a dance school to take some classes. Mole expresses how important education is to the band. Having a deep understanding of music allows them to successfully add originality to each performance by incorporating other genres. “We make our own rules,” he explains.
Though some of these rules are semi-based off traditional values. Mole described how herencia, meaning heritage, is an important element of some gypsy families. Each family would have its own distinct sound, expressing their origin. After growing up listening to rock in Montreal, Mole loves adding rock elements into the performances.
The band not only expresses itself through variations in its music, but through dance as well. Sisters Vallejo and Espí began learning how to dance at eight and 10, respectively, when their grandmother found an instructor for them. Ever since they have been developing their skills, Vallejo mentions they would attend workshops from famous people.
To add to their remarkable performance, the sisters also frequently change wardrobe often wearing clothing varying from bright and flowered, to dark colors and black. “We like to wear outfits that reflect the mood of the song,” Vallejo explains. Espí adding that in small performances they might change outfits two to three times, while in large performances they may change around five times. The Harrison audience got to witness the latter.
Based mainly in Vancouver, Toque Flamenco differs from other Flamenco professional groups that only tour the Fraser Valley area. The band performs at Flamenco nights at the Kino Café in Vancouver two to three nights a week.
“We’re not trying to imitate someone else,” Mole elaborates on the band’s unique style, wondering why anybody ever would. His reason: “You’re only here once.”
During the coming Season of the Performing Arts, the Harrison Festival Society will continue to present unique bands. To discover upcoming performances, visit harrisonfestival.com.