Sara Erde (vocals/dance/composer)
Sara Erde is a multifaceted performer from Brooklyn, New York. She began studying dance at the age of six with Tina Ramirez at Ballet Hispanico, and after graduating as a theatre major from LaGuardia High School, attended the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University, and Mannes College of Music. Erde has been performing for most of her life, both as a singer, dancer, and actress in theatres around the world, in film, and on television.
As a singer, Erde has performed internationally with a multitude of groups. She has recorded with renowned artists and on classic albums such as Neneh Cherry’s Raw Like Sushi (Virgin Records), and bass-baritone Erwin Schrott’s Rojotango (Sony Classics). Since 2010, Erde has been the lead singer, dancer, and songwriter for the NYC based flamenco funk band Caramelo. Their monthly shows at famed world music spot, Drom, have become a major NYC fiesta. Time Out NY writes that Caramelo “combines flamenco with funk. Two of the sexiest music genres in one band… Lethal!” Caramelo will release their debut CD Ride in May of 2012.
A specialist in Gypsy-style flamenco, Erde has danced extensively in Seville, Spain. She was a disciple of master teachers Juana Amaya and El Torombo, and was the first foreigner ever to perform as a soloist at the renowned tablao flamenco Los Gallos. Erde appeared in flamenco festivals throughout Andalucía, and founded her own dance company there called Abolengo, produced by Dodger Stage Holding.
Also an opera choreographer and assistant director, Erde’s work has been featured in major opera houses across Europe and North America. She enjoys an annual alliance with The Metropolitan Opera, and her choreography there has been seen in productions of Carmen, La Traviata, Il Barbieri di Siviglia, and Don Carlo among others. She is a frequent collaborator with director/designer John Pascoe, and Maestro Plácido Domingo. Erde was a 2009 winner of Opera America's Director-Designer Showcase in choreography.
Jed Miley (flamenco guitar/composer)
Jed Miley is a guitarist, composer, producer and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Seattle in 1977, Jed showed a strong interest in music from a young age, studying piano, drums, bass and trombone in addition to guitar. Although his parents favored the smooth sounds of the Doobie Brothers and Hall and Oates, Jed gravitated towards more exotic and esoteric styles, taking lessons in afro-Cuban drumming and Flamenco guitar. As a teenager he continued his studies in these styles, but maintained an interest in the popular music of the time, rocking out to Nirvana and the Seattle grunge scene, or soothing teenage heartbreak by listening to a Jodeci jam.
Jed’s first professional music gig was acting as the musical director and composer of La Peña Flamenca de Seattle. With La Peña Jed learned the basics of the Flamenco palos, or styles, and began learning the art of dance accompaniment. He began traveling to Spain frequently to steep himself in the tradition of Flamenco. He studied at the Fundacion Cristina Heeren in Sevilla, and privately with some of the best maestros in the country, including Pedro Sierra and Jose Antonio Rodriguez. Looking to expand his musical knowledge, Jed also studied jazz composition, theory and Latin music. He began playing and touring with a local tango trio, La Luciernaga, in addition to his work in the flamenco world, and on the side, performed with a heavy metal band. Incorporating his many musical influences, he created his first Flamenco fusion project in 2001, Luna Nueva, which recorded a flamenco/Latin album, Amanacer in 2002.
Jed moved to New York in 2003 to pursue greater opportunities in music. There, he began to combine flamenco with the popular music he’d grown up with. During a trip to Spain in 2005, while sipping Cruzcampo at a bar in Sevilla, Jed conceptualized the Flamenco Rock band Dientes de Caramelo; a band that would take from the sound of Seattle bands like Built to Spill and Modest Mouse while maintaining the tradition of flamenco. He was lucky to meet the flamenco singer, Alfonso Cid, in New York soon after this trip, and together they worked to create this project. Around the same time Jed had a serendipitous meeting with Sara Erde, a local flamenco dance superstar and progressively minded artist, with whom he would later start the flamenco funk band, Caramelo.
In 2009, Jed joined Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and has performed, toured and acted as a teaching artist with the company for the past three years. With Flamenco Vivo Jed has performed at prestigious venues such as Symphony Space and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. He is also a guitarist and composer for Maya de Silva’s company, “Flamenco Revolucion” and has performed with the company at such venues as Jacob’s Pillow and the Caramoor Festival.
Over the past few years Jed has kept busy working with his various projects and collaborating with other musicians. He recently finished producing a Flamenco/Jazz fusion album for the guitarist Nathan Herrera, Sueños, which was released in January 2012, and his own Flamenco Rock band Dientes de Caramelo released their debut album, Pulpo, in March 2012. He has also recently recorded with Seattle band Minus the Bear on a track for a soon to be released 7". He is very much looking forward to the release of Caramelo’s debut album, Ride, later this year.
Alfonso Cid (flamenco vocals)
Alfonso was born and raised in Seville, the heartland of flamenco music. His mother, an amateur singer from Triana, a flamenco enclave in Seville, and his grandfather, an aficionado of flamenco were his earliest influences. He also had the opportunity of attending the activities of one the most significant flamenco clubs in Andalusia, the Peña Flamenca Torres-Macarena since 1987.
Alfonso enrolled at the Seville Conservatory in 1990 to study flute and music theory. For the following 5 years he received a classical training. He also attended the classes at the Cristina Heeren Foundation for Flamenco Art in 2007 and 2008 in Sevilla, Spain, where he studied with maestro Paco Taranto and the new talent of Rocío Márquez and Elena Morales.
In 1997 Alfonso moved to the United States, since then he is based in New York City. He has made many guest appearances at important venues including Madison Square Garden, American Airlines Arena (Miami), Amway Center (Orlando) and Staples Center (Los Angeles) with the popular Latin artist Romeo Santos. He had the honor of recording backing vocals in the song titled “Mi Santa” by Santos in which the great flamenco guitarist Tomatito was a featured guest artist. He also performed at the 92 Y with singer songwriter and peace activist David Broza; Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, Town Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Sala Covarrubias in Mexico City to name a few. He has worked with all of the significant artists in the flamenco ambiance through out the USA, performing and touring in the Tri-State area, Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland, OR; Chicago, Detroit, Kentucky, Toronto, Ottawa, British Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom and Spain.
Since February of 2008 he has been teaching flamenco “cante” (flamenco song) at Flamenco Latino Studios and has given several flamenco “cante” for dance workshops at Lotus Music and Dance Studios. That includes a series of lecture/demonstrations in 2010, 2011 and 2012 titled “El Baile Flamenco” in which he shares the structure of flamenco singing, guitar playing and choreography.
In partnership with Carlota Santa’s Flamenco Vivo Alfonso produced in 2010 “La Música Flamenca” (The Flamenco Music) for the Lincoln Center Institute. This show introduces different aspects of flamenco song to audiences such as school teachers in professional development programs, and kids in school performances.
He released his first CD titled “Flamenco de Vuelta e Ida” on 2006 with his own flamenco fusion project “Gazpacho Andalú” with guitarist Arturo Martínez. He has also released the debut album of his Spanish indie rock project “Dientes de Caramelo” titled “Pulpo” (Octopus) in March of 2012.
Sean Kupisz (bass/cajón)
Sean was born in California, and raised in New York. At an early age he began to study piano, clarinet and percussion. Subsequently, he began his bass studies with his uncle. Upon graduation from the Marine Corps Musician Program he played with several jazz musicians on the Hilton Head nightclub circuit. He then returned to New York where he continued to compose and arrange for his fusion band. Recently he scored the music for the documentary film International High. He has performed with Andrea del Conte Danza España, Flamenco Latino, Amanecer Flamenco Progresivo, Mimbre y Vareta, and in the group, Dahlia and the Lamas.
Vladimir Shvets (accordion)
Originally from Ukraine, baritone Vladimir Shvets grew up in Moscow, where he attended the Ippolitov-Ivanov Music Institute and the Lunacharski National Institute of Theater Arts, receiving his Master of Music degree in 1994. The following year he came to the U.S. to study at the Peabody Conservatory. There he received numerous prizes and obtained the Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera in 1997.
Subsequently he was accepted into the Merola Opera Program and Western Opera Theater and toured with them for two seasons as Escamillo, Taddeo, Leporello and Masetto. He was a prizewinner in the Bellini Int'l Vocal Competition in Ibla, Italy and performed the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro at the New Opera Festival in Rome. Mr. Shvets made his Washington Opera debut in Boris Godunov, appeared there in Sly and Giulio Cesare and he participated in Virginia Opera's Spectrum Program, also appearing in the mainstage production of La Traviata. He has participated in Bel Canto at Caramoor and appeared as Sacristan in Tosca with Opera Roanoke. Last season he was soloist in two concerts with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and returned to Washington Opera for Morales in Carmen. He sings with the Metropolitan Opera chorus, this season in Götterdämmerung, and Khovanshchina.
Mireya Ramos (vocals/violin)
Mireya Ramos is of Dominican and Mexican heritage and was born in Montclair, California. Her family moved to Puerto Rico when she was two years old. This is where her passion for music began. Her Mexican father would lull her to sleep each night in a strong voice after returning home from his Mariachi band gigs, which Mireya often attended. And then there were the beautiful harmonies her Dominican mother would create with her niece.
Listening to Mariachi and different Latin American music was an everyday occurrence and part of the menu. Mireya’s parents owned a Mexican restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her father would sing Mexican songs while strolling from table to table. Her mother noticed her passion for music and enrolled her in the San Juan Children’s Choir along with private violin lessons. The choir was a professional institution housed in a conservatory of music where Mireya learned musical theory, bel canto (song), and culture and performance discipline.
With the San Juan Children’s Choir, Mireya had the opportunity to travel to many different countries and learn about their music and culture as well as learn songs in various languages. She was exposed to different types of music from chant to western classical music including 20th century music and ethnic music. Along with choir, Mireya took violin lessons utilizing the Suzuki method. Mireya’s love for music grew and now included a natural love for the island music she had grown up with.
Moving to New York in 1999, Mireya attended CUNY and recorded a demo with her cousin for the DreamWorks record label working with producers Full Force. Later still, while playing violin for the Brooklyn College orchestra, she began playing with a local Mariachi band which has re-enforced her improvisational and performance skills as well as extending her repertoire.
Her musical journey has continued, allowing her to play with other bands and other genres of music. Mireya has also taught violin and voice to students of all ages.
Currently Mireya performs with The Mariachi Angeles de Puebla, Rhen (Latin Rock), and often accompanies local neo-soulstress, Shae Fiol. Mireya is a member of the music group Mexico Beyond Mariachi, where she performs authentic Mexican music from all regions of Mexico. She is the founder of Mariachi Flor de Toloache, the first and only established all female mariachi band in New York City.
Isabel del Día (dance)
Born and raised in New York City, Isabel del Día was introduced to flamenco at Bard College with Judson dance pioneer Aileen Passloff, and has continued her studies in New York and Spain with flamenco masters Juana Amaya, Carmela Greco, Pastor Galvan, Andres Pena, Jose Moreno and mentor Sara Erde. In 2006, Isabel founded her own dance company Día Flamenco and performs as its Artistic Director and soloist. Recently, Isabel joined America’s most prominent flamenco company, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. She performs regularly with top Flamenco artists from Spain and the U.S., as a soloist and teaching artist.
Isabel del Día was awarded The Bard Theater and Dance Award (2004), a coveted scholarship to attend the 2008 Cultural Traditions Program at Jacob’s Pillow under the residency of Soledad Barrio and the renowned Noche Flamenca. Most recently, she completed II Ciclo Dedicado a la Formación Completa del Baile Flamenco at the historic Amor de Dios Studios in Madrid, Spain, where she was awarded the esteemed Beca, scholarship.
Xianix Barrera (vocals/dance)
A native New Yorker, Xianix Barrera is developing into one of the finest dancers on the flamenco scene today. She is a compelling and captivating performer with a riveting authenticity in appearance, style, and attitude. Barrera has performed at various venues in the tri-state area including the La Mama Theatre, Thalia Theatre, B.B. King Blues Club of Times Square, Alegrias en La Nacional, and at F.I.T. Haft Theater. She is renowned for her amusing patadas por Bulerias, an audience favorite. Barrera began her flamenco studies in New York with dance company directors/instructors Jorge Navarro, Omayra Amaya and Nelida Tirado among others. She continued her studies in Seville, Spain with masters Andres Peña, Alicia Márquez, Juana Amaya, Angelita Vargas, and Concha Vargas. In 2008, she was awarded a coveted scholarship to attend the Flamenco Dance Program at Jacob’s Pillow, Massachusetts, taught by Noche Flamenca’s Soledad Barrio. In 2010, Barrera successfully completed the advanced program dedicated to the complete formation of flamenco dance at the renowned academy Amor de Dios in Madrid. In 2011, she founded her own flamenco ensemble, Sabor Flamenco, and regularly performs with them throughout New York City. She is a vocalist and dancer with the flamenco funk band, Caramelo, and currently teaches flamenco dance in midtown Manhattan.
José Moreno (percussion/vocals/dance)
Born into a family of famous flamenco artists Estrella Morena (dancer) and Pepe de Málaga (singer), Jose began his flamenco career at age 6 under the guidance of his parents. His debut was at the famous Tablao Costa Vasca in Miami. Jose continued his studies with the Great Manolete, Farruquito, and Andres Marin, and cajón with Manuel Soler. Jose has been invited to perform in various companies, and worked with distinguished artists such as: The Great Manolete, Joaquin Ruiz, Pastora Galvan, El Pecas, Jose Cortes “Pansequito”, Jose Luis Rodriquez, Roberto Castellon, Pedro Cortes, Jose Valle “Chuscales”, Basilio Garcia, Paco Heredia, Jesus Montoya, Zorongo Flamenco Dance, La Tania, Miguel Vargas, Nelida Tirado, Maria Montilla, Antonio Hidalgo, Curro Cueto, Ruben de Maria, Gonzalo Grau, Edwin Aparicio, Amparo Heredia, Antonio Granjero and Omayra Amaya. In 2001, Jose choreographed and performed a collaborative work with his mother Estrella Morena, and with renowned flamenco singer Carmen Linares with the New World Symphony Orquestra at Lincoln Theater in Miami. In 2007, Jose performed with the internationally known Isabel Pantoja as a cajón percussionist, alongside flamenco guitarist Jose de Luna. He also performed in 2010 in the 7th annual Panama Jazz Festival, and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Guest artists appearing on “RIDE”
Neil Ochoa (percussion)
Neil Ochoa was born in Caracas Venezuela to a family of music lovers; he grew up exposed to an intense and big Latin music discography owned by his father. At age 10 his grandmother gave him a set of bongos, being this his first instrument and the beginning of a passion that has lasted over 21 years and still keeps growing and evolving in a professional and a solid career.
Since 1995 Neil has been living in NYC developing his carrier as a versatile musician and educator.
His achievements include performing, touring and or recording with: Ricky Martin, David Byrne, Los Aterciopelados (Grammy Award winning rock en español band). Los Amigos Invisibles, (Latin Grammy award winning Latin band) Pianist Ed Simons, Jovino Santos (Hermeto Pascoal), Leon Parker’s Live Ensemble, percussionist Cyro Baptista, Guitarist Aquiles Baez… Among others.
For 11 years, Neil was the percussionist for Si*Se, the critically acclaimed NYC based trip-hop/Latin electronic project which whom he edited three full length albums and a remix compilation by some of the top producers and DJ’s in the scene. In 2008, along with Guitarist Jose Luis Pardo (Los Amigos Invisibles), Neil founded Los Crema Paraiso. A powerful trio that brings Venezuelan traditional music into jazz, rock, funk, latin grooves, electronica and exotic sounds from all over the world. In January 2010 Los Crema Paraiso released their first album self titled: El Debut, and are currently in the studio working for their second discography production. Neil currently tours internationally with Chicha Libre.
Nikhil P. Yerawadekar (electric guitar)
Queens, New York's own Nikhil P. Yerawadekar is a very active musician in a variety of settings and on a variety of instruments. He has toured the globe playing bass in Antibalas and several other groups but also loves staying in his home studio working on his solo project whenever he can and performing with his group Low Mentality. Nikhil is fascinated by beats and melodies and is always on the lookout for a new sound.
AJ Kluth (saxophone/flute/clarinet)
After graduating with a Masters degree in Jazz Saxophone Performance from DePaul University in 2006 AJ has kept busy working with diverse artists such as (to name a few), the Chicago Afrobeat Project, Lauren Frost, the AJ Kluth Quintet, L’Orchestre Super Vitesse, Ben Miller’s Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra, and most recently leading his band ALDRIC. He has taught at the Music Institute of Chicago, the Latin School of Chicago, and Moraine Valley Community College and has published several articles and one book on the subject of musical improvisation. AJ resides in Brooklyn, NY and is continuing his studies at NYU’s Draper School of Interdisciplinary Studies for Humanities and Social Thought.
Sam Hoyt (trumpet)
Sam Hoyt was born in Sharon, Ct., and grew up in Millbrook, NY. He started playing traditional jazz with his father, and went on to complete his musical education at Wesleyan University. Sam has had the pleasure of performing and/or recording with such notables as Anthony Braxton, Roswell Rudd, Skah Shah, and Jorge Ben Jor, among others. He is a former member of La Excelencia, and currently plays with Gregorio Uribe Big Band. He resides in Brooklyn, NY.