Kumpania Cast

Antonio De Jerez


“When you hear Antonio singing, you are hearing the line and legacy of flamenco puro.” – Bruce Bisenz

Born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, where his father is a well-known singer and his mother was a dancer, Antonio has been singing and dancing since childhood. After performing extensively throughout Spain in concerts, tablaos and festivals,Antonio came to the U.S. in 1977. Since then he has sung for many companies, including the Jose Molina Ballet, Rosa Montoya Ballet Espanol, The Boston Flamenco Ballet, plus the companies of Carmen Mora, Luisa Triana, La Tania, Yalesia, and Domingo Ortega, among many others. He is frequently the Artistic Director of Canela Pura. Also a poet, Antonio frequently writes original letras (lyrics) for the cantes he sings.

Antonio’s favorite palo is Alegrias

Vanessa Acosta-Albalos


© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

Vanessa was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. After moving to Los Angeles, she began her dance training with her sister Geraldine Acosta and Rita Vega de Triana.  She has performed with the companies of Sarita Parra, Gabriela Garza, Jose Tanaka’s  Soniquete Flamenco and Jesus Montoya’s Flamenco Company.  Vanessa has toured Mexico with the Festival Internacional Cervantina and Japan at the Tablau El Flamenco.  She appeared in the Iron & Wine video on MTV “Boy With A Coin” and in MASTER TV’s “Caminos Flamencos” with Yaelisa’s San Francisco company. She has also appeared in the annual Los Angeles Flamenco Festival produced and directed by Mitchell Chang.

“Flamenco has great potential here. We just have to keep doing it,” says Vanessa.

Her favorite palo is Alegria.


Mizuho Sato


© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

 Mizuho began studying ballet at the age of five in Iwate, Japan.  She travelled abroad to study dance at the Royal Ballet Academy of England. She also attended Sophia University in Tokyo, where she “found” her flamenco.  In 1997 Mizuho went to Sevilla, Spain, for further study.  Her teachers there were Javier Cruz, Alicia Marques and Maria del Mar Berlanga. In 2000 Mizuho won Japan’s most prestigious flamenco competition sponsored by the Japanese Flamenco Association.  Later in Spain she studied with Cristobal Reyes, La China, Manuel Linan and the Farruco family. After moving to Los Angeles in 2004, Mizuho joined Jose Tanaka’s Soniquete Flamenco.  She teaches and performs around Los Angeles, including at The Fountain Theatre.

Mizuho recently appeared in San Francisco with Caminos Flamencos directed by Yaelisa, with guitarrista Jason McGuire “El Rubio” and cantaora Kina Mendez. Mizuho is also the flamenco dancing cat in the animated film “Puss In Boots.” Choreographer Laura Gorenstein Miller told the L.A. Times “Mizuho Sato was the flamenco reference for Antonio Banderas… technically she’s impeccable, and her speed, the way she attacks things – I needed that kind of power for Antonio.”

“What’s great about flamenco, you see all the levels of sadness or happiness,” says Mizuho. “What’s my favorite palo? Alegria, probably, because I love to say we’re living with happiness.”


Briseyda Zarate Fernandez

Flamenco dancer, Choreographer, Artistic Director, Teacher and Aspiring Singer

© 2011 Photography by Pablo Aguilar

 Briseyda began performing at the age of 5, training in the disciplines of tap, jazz and ballet, dancing professionally in these until age 19 when she discovered flamenco while an undergraduate at UCLA.  Briseyda has performed flamenco the last 17 years, living in Los Angeles and Spain.  She began her studies in Los Angeles with teachers Liliana de Leon and Gabriela Garza. Shortly after she travelled to Jerez de la Frontera to study with Ana Maria Lopez and Manuela Carpio and then to Madrid at the “Centro de Arte Flamenco y Danza Espanola, Amor de Dios” where her main teacher was Manuel Reyes Maya.

In Madrid she performed regularly at flamenco tablaos and penas including “El Cafe de Chinitas”, “El Juglar  and “La Pena Los Cabales”. In Jerez de la Frontera she’s performed at the “Pena los Cernicalos” y “Sala Compania” for the Festival de Jerez under the direction of Javier La Torre.  She has worked with Manuel Malena,  Juan Ogalla, Jose Fernandez, “El Ciervo”, “La Chungi,” Antonia “La Pescailla,” Nino de los Reyes and Leo Trevino among others. Briseyda artistically directs her own company and performs throughout Los Angeles as soloist including the Fountain Theatre, The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

She was dancer and dance captain for the Los Angeles Opera in “The Barber of Seville” and assisted Spanish choreographer Nuria Castejon. Briseyda’s company inagurated the first annual Los Angeles Flamenco Festival, with her latest work “Flamenca” sharing the bill with Omayra Amaya and La Tania. She has performed in New York’s flamenco tablao circuit and will be featured this fall in the Tucson Arizona Spanish and Flamenco Festival and the Los Angeles World Festival of Sacred Music.

She has choreographed for the California Institute of the Arts “New Music Festival”, has taught master classes for The LA County Arts Commision and The Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She was a scholarship awardee for Jacob’s Pillow Cultural Traditions Program and was awarded first prize at the IV Concurso Nacional de Flamenco in Albuquerque, New Mexico (2006).

“Flamenco is intense. It’s not trying to sugarcoat anything. It’s gutsy, real,  in-your-face…” says Briseyda.  She loves all the palos and favors the Solea.

Jose Tanaka


© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

Born to flamenco parents in Kyoto, Japan, Jose became lead guitarist in a rock band for years. He moved to Los Angeles where he played gigs and studied at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood.  The past reached out and grabbed him at a Paco De Lucia concert in Los Angeles.  Shortly thereafter, Jose bought a ticket to Spain, where he studied with the masters.  He has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Olympia in Paris, the Acropolis in Athens, Tarantos in Barcelona and El Flamenco in Tokyo. His CDs include “Gypsy’s Dream” (1999) with Alex Acuna, Pedro Estache, Jesus Montoya, Peewee Hills and Cecilia Romero; Lluvia (2004) with Domingo Ortega, Manuel De La Malena, Vicente Griego and on palmas Vanessa Acosta-Albalos and Sachihiro Kagawa.

Tanaka has played with Jorge Trasante of the Gypsy Kings, Carmen Amaya’s great-grand niece Omayra Amaya, and Charlie Peterson of Earth, Wind & Fire. Jose also teaches guitar online. At first, he was putting the site up for free, but there were so many students and the venture was taking more and more of his time. His concern was that people learn flamenco guitar correctly. He says there is so much wrong teaching on You Tube “that is limiting somebody’s talent.”  Jose seems to be a godfather to Los Angeles flamencos, finding them gigs and turning them on to other artists.  He is keen on helping flamenco survive in L.A.

His favorite palo is Bulerias. 

Antonio Triana II

Guitarrista and Flamenco Artistic Director The Fountain Theatre

 © 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

Tony is the son of influential artists Antonio Triana and Rita Vega. He first appeared at the age of 12 in a concert with Placido Domingo.  Although he loves to accompany, Tony has appeared as soloist at the Getty Museum, the Luckman Theatre, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles and the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.  He has accompanied Jose Greco I, Jose Greco II, Antonio Granjero, La Tania, Roberto Amaral, Maria Bemudez, Yaelisa, Juan Talavera, La Tati, Jesus Montoya and Antonio De Jerez.  Tony also composed a guitar interlude for the Manuel de Falla score of  “El Amor Brujo.”

“Flamenco in L.A. is a state of mind,” says Tony. “In Los Angeles and Hollywood it loses its spirituality.”  He likes his flamenco puro and loves playing Alegrias – “That’s just a blast.”


Gerardo Morales

Guitarrista & Percusion

© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

Gerardo was born in East Los Angeles and studied at Pasadena Conservatory of Music.  His other teachers include Peruvian Cajonero  Zarandonga and Ricardo Tikki Pasillas.  He studied flamenco with Paco and Yolanda Arroya and studied in Spain with Juana Amaya and David Marin. Gerardo has performed with Juan Talavera’s  “Men of Flamenco,” Jesus Montoya, Encuentro, Arte Flamenco Dance Company and Briseyda Zarate Dance Company. He recently appeared at House of Blues with guitarrista Ethan Margolis and bailaoras Cihtli Ocampo and Mizuho Sato. Gerardo has toured the U.S. and Latin America with Ozomatli, The Black Eyed Peas, Cristina Aguilera and Kanye West.  Other members of Encuentro are Jose Tanaka, Gabriel Lautaro Osuna and Angelo Salazar.

“In Spain they love the whole American culture of hip –hop, basketball, they love jazz, they love Latin music… they’re very open,” says Gerardo.  “I love fusion. A lot of music goes full circle and always returns to its origins. “


Gabriel Lautaro Osuna

Guitarrista & Cantaor

Gabriel was born to a family of artists and musicians in Northern Mexico.  His influential mentors include El Viejin, Pedro Cuadra, Ramon Jimenez, Rafael Habichuela, El Entri, Juan Maya Marote and Miguel Angel Cortez. Gabriel has performed at the World Expo in Hanover, Germany, and at the Florant Middle Eastern Music Festival outside Paris.  He played a season in the Gypsy caves of Sacromonte and recently accompanied singer Vincente Griego and Chuscales of the dance troupe Yjastros, directed by Joaquin Encinias. 



Manuel De la Cruz


Manuel was born in Montpellier, France and studied flamenco in Cordoba, Spain. He won his first flamenco dance award at the age of eight.  He began his career in the Spanish tablaos such as Casa Patas, El Palacio del Flamenco and Cordobes. Manuel is also a choreographer, teacher and composer.  The work he is most proud of is “El Emmigrante,” a tribute to Spanish immigrants in the post-war period which he dedicated to his father.  Manuel’s ‘Flamenka” production had a successful five year run in London and Paris. He has taught at the Paris Opera as well as some of the best dance studios in Paris.  He teaches in Los Angeles and performs at many places including The Fountain Theatre.

“There’s a hunger in L.A. to learn, and to know more because of an aficion here…” says Manuel.

Manuel’s favorite palo is the siguiriya.


Paloma Rios


Paloma was born in Santa Barbara where she is now director of Paloma Rios School of Flamenco. She studied under Antoinette Lopez, Linda Vega and Roberto Amaral. Paloma was awarded the “Spirit of Fiesta” in Santa Barbara in 2005.  In Spain, she studied with Maria “La Chacha” Bermudez in Jerez de la Frontera, and with the Farrucos in Sevilla.

Paloma performs often in Los Angeles, including at The Fountain Theatre.

“It isn’t Spain but we have our own thing to bring to the table,’ says Paloma. “We have our own cultures and our own way of dancing. There’s people who go to Madrid and bring that back, there’s people who go to Seville, go to Jerez…there’s a mix of all the flamenco cultures here too, not just the culture we have.”

Paloma’s favorite palo to dance to is Solea por Bulerias , her favorite palo for guitar is Rondena and for cante (or song), Fandangos.


Joey Heredia


© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

Joey Heredia is a master percussionist who played on the “Scott Henderson-Gary Willis Tribal Tech” album of 1991.  He has worked with Stevie Wonder, Sergio Mendez, Herb Alpert, Poncho Sanchez, Sheila E., Tania Maria, Dianne Reeves, Steve Lukather and Billy Childs.  Joey studied at Los Angeles City College as a music major and learned technique from Murray Spivak  His fusion group “El Trio” with Marco Mendoza and Renato Neto has toured world -wide. Joey’s first flamenco show was in 2008 with Cristobal Osorio in “cante y baile.”  He has recorded with Juan Parrilla and works out of his Groove Gallery studio in Burbank.

The problem with flamenco in Los Angeles, says Joey, is that “nobody knows it exists.” His favorite palo is the Siguiriya. “I love it when music comes from a dark place.”


Kai Narezo


Kai studied flamenco in Granada, Spain with Juan Fernandez and Miguel Angel Cortes. Kai graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston. In Boston, he was the Music Director for the Ramon de Los Reyes Spanish Dance Theatre for five years.  He collaborated with Fernando de Malaga in the Kai Narezo Flamenco Quartet. His solo album “Vueltas” was released in 2006.  He organized a flamenco workshop at Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill with Joey Heredia and Antonio De Jerez  which ran for about a year and showcased some of the city’s best flamenco artistry. The Hollywood Studio nights attracted many of the city’s top musicians and students, including visiting artists from Spain. Kai works out of his studio Universal Exports in Los Angeles, where he also teaches guitar.

He studied with Dennis Koster in New York before going to Spain, where he earned flamenco credentials studying in the Caves of Sacromonte, Granada. He is currently recording a CD with Ric Fierabracci and Joey Heredia to be released in 2011. “Flamenco without the cante (song) is a guitar concert or a dance show but it’s not flamenco,” says Kai. “Flamenco started with the cante and you can’t really get away from that.”


Timo Nunez 


Timo began dancing at the age of seven under the tutelage of Juan Talavera and his flamenco company. He began performing with the L.A. Opera Company productions of Carmen, Luisa Fernanda and La Traviata.  He has studied in Spain extensively and performed and taught all over the world from Croatia to Dubai.  He was awarded the “El Concourso de Baile de Albuquerque.”  Timo has worked with choreographers Debbie Allen, Kenny Ortega, Otis Sallid and Ruthy Inchaustegui and directors Raj Kapoor and Amy Tinkham.  He has appeared in many films, including ‘Rent” and was featured as “America’s Number One Flamenco Dancer” on Fox TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”  Timo has worked as soloist and choreographer for The Pussycat Dolls and Carlos Santana.

“Flamenco to me means so much more than just being a performer or just being flamenco,” says Timo. “For me it represents… belonging to something.” Timo recently directed and starred in his own show ‘Pasion” at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.

Timo’s favorite palo is Solea.



Deborah Lawler

Co-Artistic Director The Fountain Theatre

There would be far less flamenco in Los Angeles without Deborah and The Fountain Theatre.  Dubbed “the god-mother of flamenco” in the L.A. Times, the former contemporary dancer and choreographer from New York City left the East Coast to live in India, where she was also involved in dance and theater. For ten years Deborah studied the ancient cultures of India and Egypt, translating scholarly works from French to English. In Los Angeles 1990, she co-founded The Fountain Theatre with Stephen Sachs.  There, Deborah created “The Women of Guernica,” a flamenco interpretation of Euripides’ “The Trojan Women.”

She has directed many plays and – beginning in August of 1990 – brought numerous presentations of Roberto Amaral’s “Fuego Flamenco” to the Fountain stage.  Deborah began the Forever Flamenco series 8 years ago with weekly presentations for the first 5 years, then bi-weekly for the next 2 years. She hasalso produced shows at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre during the summer, including Maria Bermudez and her Sonidos Gitanos/Gypsy Flamenco Company from Jerez de la Frontera.  When the stage sets for plays at the Fountain leave no room for flamenco, monthly shows are held at the 299-seat Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.

“The music simply draws you in. It’s hard to find anything comparable in passion, intensity, sophistication…” says Deborah.

Self Portrait
Bruce Bisenz

© 2011 Photography by Bruce Bisenz

                                                                                                                   Bruce Bisenz


He’s the guy in the front row at flamenco shows with the Nikon.  It must be said he is completely in love with the late Carmen Amaya, as well as the flamencos of Los Angeles.   Bruce has amassed thousands of performance photos which he gives to the artists and to The Fountain Theatre. Bruce is former production sound mixer for Hollywood films and TV shows such as “The American West of John Ford” (1971),  “Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen”  (1981),  “Purple Rain (1981),   “The Larry Sanders Show” (1992), “The Four Diamonds” (1995) and “Independence Day” (1996). He is a retired member of the Cinema Audio Society and IATSE Locals 695 and 700. “Fountain’s flamenco runs at a deficit,” says Bruce. “I realized I could volunteer my services. If I could help the flamencos that was what I really wanted to do because I love the music.”


Photo by Thosh Collin

 Walter Molina

Born in East L.A., Molina says the appreciation of flamenco “sometimes grows into a kind of spiritual devotion.”
The flamenco guitarist studied with “El Viejin” in the Cano Roto barrio of Madrid.
Molina created the flamenco show “Blanco y Negro” inspired by Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period” of painting.
He was featured in the Off-Broadway production of “Pasion,” and played for Esther Ponce on Channel 34 Univision.
Molina was the accompanist for Orange Coast College’s Modern & Flamenco Dance Department, and starred in the Los Angeles Music Festival, NOHO Theater & Arts Festival, and the Ritmo Latino Music Awards Show.
His favorite palos are the Solea and Rondena.


Florence Riggs

Vocal Coach

Florence has the reputation of being the best voice teacher in L.A.  When Briseyda Zarate Fernandez wanted to explore cante, she sought out Florence on Joey Heredia’s recommendation.  After her Master’s Degree in Voice & Opera from Manhattan School of Music in New York, Florence went on to perform and teach for the next 40 years.  Her clientshave included Herbie Hancock, Patrice Rushen, Carnie and Wendy Wilson, Barry Bostwick, Dale Kristien, Martin Short, Michael McKean and Yumi Matsutoya. Florence attests to the healing properties of flamenco song in the documentary, and has co-founded programs on music, movement and healing. This may sound very California, however scholars all over the world are investigating the science of this phenomenon. (The Berklee College of Music in Boston has a Music Therapy Department, with outreach to local children’s hospitals, public schools, nursing facilities and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.) Such is the power of song. “The harmonics are like a carrier wave for emotion,” says Florence. “and from that can come healing.”

Jesus Montoya


“An astounding singer… Jesus can invigorate an entire flamenco troupe.” Bruce Bisenz

The extremely popular cantaor who was born in Sevillebegan touring with flamenco companies at the age of 13.  Jesus has performed with Jose Greco, Fernanda Romero, Juan Ogalla, Manolete, Jose Galvan, Maria Benitez, La Tania, Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos, and Jose Tanaka, to name a few.  His first CD “Sentimiento Gitano” was released in 2000.  In 2006, he sang the part of Ruiz Alonso, a Falangist officer, in the Deutsche Grammophon recording of  “Ainamadar Fountain of Tears.” The work, by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov with libretto by David Henry Hwang, won two Grammy awards for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition” and “Best Opera Recording” with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano.  (Ainamadar is the Moorish fountain in Granada where Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered and the piece is about the martyrdom of artistic freedom. Kelly O’Connor sang the part of Lorca and Dawn Upshaw the part of Xirgu) Jesus also directs his own flamenco company Pureza Flamenca.


Marysol Fuentes


One of the most sought after singers of cante jondo – or deep song – Marysol has performed with the top flamenco artists in the world.  Born near Cadiz in Southern Spain she now lives in San Diego and travels to Los Angeles to share the stage with her fellow flamencos. She has sung with the Ballet Nacional de Espana production of the L.A. Philharmonic’s tribute to composer Manuel de Falla at the Hollywood Bowl.