Sol Flamenco brings a cast of artists who have lived and trained in Spain, the birthplace of flamenco. The group has been working together for many years and it shows in the dancer’s precision footwork, the guitarist’s bold accompaniment and the company’s strong stage presence.
Joelle Gonçalves is the Artistic Director and principle dancer of Sol Flamenco. Her formal flamenco dance training began in 2003 when she traveled to Seville, Spain, to study at Studio Flamenco José Galván and has since returned to Spain several times to study at prestigious flamenco academies including Academia de Flamenco Manuel Betanzos, Andrés Marín Flamenco Abierto, and Estudio Flamenco Juan Polvillo. She has also studied at The Institute for Spanish Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as flamenco schools in Oakland and San Francisco. In addition to managing shows with some of the Bay Area’s finest artists, she has performed as a soloist with local dance companies, including Mi Alma Flamenca, Mark Taylor Flamenco, Toque Tercero, the "Flamenco Room" at Thirsty Bear and FLAMENCO! LIVE! She has received awards from the Sonoma Arts Council, The Alliance for California Traditional Arts. and received a personal letter from Cirque du Soleil talent scout, Guilio Scatola, requesting her audition (after seeing her perform at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts) for the production of Ka. Joelle was hired for the winter 2022 season of Cirque de Bobeme's "Gypsy" as a flamenco soloist as well as a flamenco dancer with the Opera San José production of Barber of Seville in 2023. Joelle teaches Flamenco Dance Classes in Santa Rosa at The Finley Center every week.
Damien Álvarez began dancing flamenco at the age of 9 with the famous Rosa Montoya of San Francisco. Since then, he has studeied with a variety of notable artists and has performed with many of the Bay Areas top flamenco companies. Damien is on fire! His passion is for Flamenco! The fire in his spirit compels him to dance. He is passionate to dance, to teach, to inspire and to perform. Grounded in classical flamenco and with a heart full of music his moves are versatile and integrates modern genres, to tease, to play, to encourage the vital heat of self expression of his own and to inspire his students. Damien offers ample opportunities for his students to perform regularly at his bi-monthly Toque Tercero flamenco show.
Azriel Goldschmidt 'El Moreno' began studying flamenco dance in New Mexico with Rafael Martos during the Maria Benitez's Santa Fe Flamenco Festival. Soon after, he was introduced to the flamenco cante (singing) by guitarist Ives Lucero. Under the artistic direction of Ramona Garduno, Azriel began performing as a singer and dancer with group Aire Flamenco in 1998. He studied with many renowned Spanish artists such as dancers Joaquin Hidalgo, Joaquin Ruiz, Javier Latorre, Antonio Granjero, Domingo Ortega, Manuel Betanzos, Rafael Campallo and Andres Marin and singers Silverio Heredia, Cristo Cortez, Jose Anillo and Juan Suarez. In 1999 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and has since been singing with most of the area's flamenco dancers and guitarists. Hilit Maniv, Holly Shaw, Virginia Iglesias, Phoebe Vernier, Kerensa de Mars, Melissa Cruz and Carola Zertuche are among the dancers Azriel sang for over the years in the context of the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.
Jimmie Kay Ramos, a native of San Antonio, TX, began her dance studies at the age of 4 with Ballet Folklorico de San Antonio (BFSA), then under the direction of Teresa Champion. The BFSA and San Antonio was a rich training ground with guest artists and teachers such as Jose Greco, Nana Lorca, Pilar Riojas, Maria Benitez, Chuni Amaya, La Chiqui and others. She began a professional career at age 14 and toured with the BFSA. She attended the Amor de Dios studio in Madrid, Spain, to train with legends such as La Tati, Paco Romero, and Pedro Azorín. In 1990 she became the Artistic Director of the BFSA. She continued her flamenco studies in Sevilla she continued to study with Manolo Marín and others. Moving to Sacramento in 1999, she began teaching locally, all the while continuing studies with visiting artists in CA (Carmen Ledesma, La Farruca, and Africa de La Faraona, to name a few) as well as trips to study in Spain, most recently to Jerez de La Frontera, where she studied with Carmen Herrera and Patricia Ibañez, among others. Active as a performer in the Sacramento and Bay area, she is currently the resident Flamenco Instructor for the Flamenco Society of San Jose.
Yuli Norrish began her flamenco studies in 1999 and performs as a singer with Sol Flamenco, as well as a variety of other companies in the Bay Area. She has further broadened her love of flamenco by expanding her studies to include flamenco singing as well as the flamenco box drum, el cajon. The study of singing combined with the playing of the Spanish drum brought her back to her original roots growing up, music. She has studied music and dance with local and visiting artists from Spain, such as La Tania, Clara Rodriguez, Roberto Zamora and Jose Cortes. She has also collaborated with a variety of local artists, groups and organizations. Yuli currently directs troupe Matiz Flamenco and works as the Artistic Director of San Jose Nuevo Flamenco. She performs and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mark Taylor is an international recording artist, performer and teacher. His combined experience in classical and flamenco music makes him a strong and dynamic interpreter of the classical repertoire with an approach to flamenco that is rhythmically vibrant, passionate and true to the essence of the many styles he performs. Taylor began his study of classical guitar in 1980 at the Santa Rosa Junior College earning a music degree and was awarded the first Julia Harp Scholarship for music performance at Sonoma State University. He received private instruction with Kirby Wilkerson, and Phillip Roshegar, and master classes with Vladimir Mikulka, and Deborah Marrioti. He has performed in many renaissance and baroque chamber ensembles yet it was his love of Spanish music that inspired him to travel to Spain. Mark was already a professional classical guitarist when he first began traveling to Spain in 1987. He returned to Spain frequently over a period of 15 years learning the art of solo guitar as well as accompaniment of song and dance styles. Taylor studied flamenco guitar in Granada, Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera and Madrid with such great artists and teachers as Mario Escudero, Carlos Heredia (Seville), “El Carbonero” (Jerez), Roman Martin, and at the famous Amor de Dios dance studio (Madrid). He returned to the United States to form the Aire Flamenco Dance Company and The Mark Taylor Flamenco Quartet. He has performed as a soloist in Spain and the United States and appears regularly as featured artist with the Sol Flamenco Dance Company and The San Francisco Bay area’s Potaje ensemble, directed by Chus Alonso. He has also collaborated with Francisco Gaona’s stage productions of Romanceros Gitanos, Cante Jondo and Cantares by Federico García Lorca. Radio and television credits include interviews by Jose Maria Velasquez on Spanish National Radio in Madrid, Spain, Radio Onda Ribera in Navarra, Spain and Michael Krazny’s Forum on KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. Mark’s music is featured on television on the Discovery Channel program Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, in the “Spain” and “Morocco” episodes. Concert venues: include the Cowell Theater (San Francisco), La Peña Cultural Center (Berkeley), The Crest Theater (Sacramento), the Kuumbwa Jazz Center (Santa Cruz), the Jarvis Conservatory (Napa), the Sinatra Theater (Lake Tahoe), the Hults Center (Eugene, OR) and the Portland Theater (Portland, OR). Festivals: include the Santa Barbara Flamenco Festival with La Tania Flamenco Dance Company, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival with La Fibi Flamenco Dance Company, the Portland Flamenco Festival with Solo Flamenco, the Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival with Sol Flamenco, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival with Aire Flamenco, the Petaluma Summer Music Festival, the Las Vegas Guitar Society, the Stony Point Concert Series and the Pistol River Concert Series.