Bienvenida Prima!….welcome cousin!

This event is on July 28, 2023 at 7:30 pm

The Victoria Flamenco Festival presents guest artist bailaora (dancer), Kasandra “La China” Lea
(Vancouver), in a new show “Bienvenida Prima!….welcome cousin!”, under the artistic direction
of Veronica Maguire (Victoria), featuring local flamenco artists, singers Jan “Juanita” Bate,
Gwyneth McIntosh “La Chispa”, Veronica “Vero” Maguire, palmera Denise Yeo, accompanied
by guitarists, Jake “Chinito” Lee and Gareth Owen.

Bienvenida Prima” means welcome cousin. As artists, we come together sharing a similar
love and a common bond through flamenco! It is with this connection and years of shared
experience that creates family and builds community. The song, the music and the dance all
combined will take you on an exciting journey filled with emotion, expression and heart that will
make you want to shout Olé! Come and see “Bienvenida Prima!….welcome cousin!


Meet the artists:

Artistic director/stage designer/performer
VERONICA “VERO” MAGUIRE, winner of the prestigious Jacqueline Lemieux Award for her
contribution to Dance in Canada, has shared the stage in Canada with North American and
Spanish international flamenco artists. Her longest artistic partnership was with her late husband
and acclaimed guitarist, Harry Owen, together co-founding Alma de España Flamenco Dance
Company in Victoria 1991.

In a career spanning over 50 years as dancer/singer/choreographer, Maguire has produced and
directed world-class productions in Victoria such as Recuerdos in 2011, and Pasajes in 2014. She
has performed in the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, the Dawson City Music
Festival, the Victoria Flamenco Festival, the Vancouver and Victoria Fringe Festival, the Victoria
Symphony, as well as performances throughout Canada. As a member of Palabra Flamenco’s
collaborative poetry & flamenco production, Maguire performed at the Victoria Festival of
Authors. In 2018, she was one of six artists presented in a film A Quiet Flamenco created by
Rosanna Terraciano.

In 2020, Maguire directed and performed in the flamenco films Solo Cantando and Familia
Flamenca for the virtual Victoria Flamenco Festival, and live at the Waterfront Theatre in Alma
de España’s production Familia for the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival in 2021. Her
most recent work, she created and staged For The Love of Flamenco the opening show for the
Victoria Flamenco Festival’s 10th anniversary. Currently, Maguire is the coordinator for Alma de
España’s Flamenco Tablao in Victoria featuring a roster of flamenco singers, dancers and

Maguire continues to be active in the community as one of the founding members and artistic
advisors to the Flamenco de la Isla Society, master teacher at Flamenco Victoria, and private
coach and mentor to many of her students, all the while staying connected to her adopted home
town, Jerez de la Frontera Spain, a touchstone for continued growth and inspiration.

Guest artist bailaora

KASANDRA “LA CHINA” LEA is one of Canada’s leading flamenco artists well-known for her
unrelenting drive to push the artistic envelope. A tirelessly ambitious artistic director, soloist and
prima bailaora, Kasandra is always hungry for new sources of inspiration and knowledge,
constantly pushing her musical and choreographic mastery to its limits. She has been identified
as “Vancouver’s flamenco star who has embodied flamenco with her dynamic, precise style” by
Flamenco-World magazine.

In high demand as a solo performer, she has performed with international artists such as Sonidos
Gitanos and Maria Bermudez, Ricardo Lopez, Emilio Ochando, Ivan Vargas, Jose Manuel
Alvarez, Joel Hanna, Alvin Tolentino and guitarists, Gaspar Rodriguez, Daniel Jurado and Josue
Tacoronte. She has also worked extensively with local artists – Flamenco Rosario, Alma de
Espana, Flamenco Vivo, Flamenco Alcala – at key venues in the Vancouver flamenco scene such
as the Kino Café and the Chai Lounge.

Kasandra “La China” began her artistic journey under the tutelage of Oscar Nieto, who imparted
his wisdom regarding the art of improvisational flamenco. In 2002, Oscar became her partner in
forming Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy and the professional company, Mozaico
Flamenco Dance Theatre. Kasandra is the prima bailaora and choreographer for Mozaico
Flamenco Dance Theatre. She is the creator and artistic director of “Cafe de Chinitas”, “Vinetas
del Mozaico” and has founded her solo career in Kasandra Flamenco Ensemble. An honoured recipient of Canada Council for the Arts and British Columbia Arts Council grants, Kasandra has
produced shows since 2003.

A dedicated and inspiring performer, she has appeared in prestigious events with the Vancouver
International Dance Festival, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Flamenco Festival and
has performed all over BC.

Known for her explosive spirit, precise rhythmic footwork, grace and personal character,
Kasandra’s love of flamenco is contagious as she strives to educate new audiences and bring
newcomers to the art form through her dance. Her generous spirit has brought countless devotees
and aficionados to the art of Flamenco.

Jan “Juanita” Bate – Singer

JAN “JUANITA” BATE first heard live flamenco in Tofino in 1999, and since that time she has
fallen hard for this art form. Enchanted with the poetry, rhythms and melodies, Juanita has
studied cante in Tofino, Victoria, Havana, Albuquerque and Jerez. She has studied with many
teachers from single classes to years of study with Veronica Maguire and the late Harry Owen,
Oscar Nieto, Luis de Pacote, Paco Peña Gasolina Hijo, Miguel Rosendo, Matias López El Mati,
Ezequiel Benitez, Vicente Griego, Stephanie Pedraza and Coral de los Reyes. Juanita is also
grateful to her fellow flamencos on Vancouver Island, for it is only through the many hours of
practice that the art of flamenco reveals itself. Over the years, Juanita has performed in shows
and tablaos with Rueda, Peña Flamenca, Flamenco de la Costa, and Alma de España, and she
passionately produced the Victoria Flamenco Festival from 2012 – 2018.

Gwyneth McIntosh “ La Chispa” – Singer/dancer

GWYNETH MCINTOSH “LA CHISPA” – Since beginning Flamenco with Alma de Espana in
2000, Gwyneth McIntosh has studied both dance and cante with artists including Veronica
Maguire, Harry Owen, Oscar Nieto, Domingo Ortega, Maria Bermudez, Vicente Griego, and
Rafaela Carrasco. The process of intimate and intense artistic collaboration pulls Gwyneth to
flamenco. Every moment is an opportunity to express and create something deeply soulful and
dynamic, but it takes the sensitivity, knowledge, and passion of each participant to make those
moments come alive.

Jake Lee “Chinito” – Guitarist/singer

JAKE LEE “CHINITO” began training as a guitar accompanist for flamenco dancers in 1997
under Harry Owen and Veronica Maguire. Drawing influence from both traditional and modern
sources, Jake has been a frequent collaborator with many BC artists including Rueda, Monique
Salez, the Kasandra Flamenco Ensemble, Alma de España, Peña Flamenca, LaLuna Flamenco and Mozaico Flamenco. Performing regularly in Victoria and Vancouver, he has been a participant in the Victoria Flamenco Festival since 2013, and has performed in the 2015 and 2018 editions of the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival. In addition to playing flamenco guitar, Jake is becoming known as singer and most recently was
featured in “The Letter”, a flamenco video presented at the Victoria Flamenco Festival 2022.

Gareth Owen – Guitarist

GARETH OWEN is a world-class flamenco guitarist based in Victoria, B.C. He has shared the
stage with international flamenco guitarists Jesus Álvarez and Gaspar Rodriguez Roman, and has
accompanied many international artists from Spain & United States including collaborations
with Canadian artists. Gareth has recorded two albums, Gareth Owen Flamenco Guitar and El
Cobre. He has also appeared on Alma de España’s CD, Flamenco Live. He has performed solo
concerts in Calgary, Victoria and Haida Gwaii, as well as flamenco tablao performances in
Vancouver’s Chai Lounge & Kino, and in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, Tablao El Laga. He has
performed in both Toronto and Vancouver International Flamenco Festivals, Dawson City Music
Festival, Victoria Flamenco Festival including flamenco productions Café de Chinitas in
Vancouver, and Alma de España’s Recuerdos and Pasajes in Victoria. In 2015, he performed a
solo concert with guest artist from Spain, Coral de los Reyes in Victoria, and in 2017 for Maria
Bermudez’s Sonidos Gitanos Convivencia at El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles. Recently, Gareth
has performed in a short flamenco film for the Victoria Virtual Flamenco Festival and the stage
production of Alma de España’s Familia live for the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival.

Denise Yeo – Palmera/dancer

DENISE YEO is a professional flamenco dance soloist and palmera appearing in tablaos across
Canada. She has performed in large-scale flamenco productions Recuerdos and Pasajes for Alma
de España Flamenco Dance Company. In North America, Denise has trained with award-winning
choreographers Veronica Maguire, Carmen Romero, and Oscar Nieto. She has also trained with
international flamenco artists, including Concha Jareño, Domingo Ortega, Maria Bermúdez,
Inmaculada Ortega, Antonio El Farru, Carmen Herrera, Ana María Lopez, and more. In 2017,
she co-founded Palabra Flamenco as its artistic director and principal dancer — joining
traditional flamenco with English language poetry and storytelling. The show La Palabra en el
Tiempo toured the Victoria Flamenco Festival, Victoria Fringe Festival, Vancouver Fringe
Festival, and Victoria Festival of Authors. She later performed as a soloist for Dark Sounds, a
unique collaboration with acclaimed poet Jan Zwicky, guitarist Gareth Owen, and poet Garth
Martens. In 2019, her new work Fox Woman, Yeo’s second production as artistic director, toured
the Toronto Fringe Festival and Winnipeg Fringe Festival. As principal dancer and storyteller,
she performs the roles of Fox Woman and the Hunter, with her husband, flamenco guitarist
Gareth Owen, accompanying her. Recently, Denise has performed in a short flamenco film for
the Victoria Virtual Flamenco Festival and the live stage production of Alma de España’s
Familia for the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival.

Lori Garcia-Meredith – Lighting designer and Stage manager

LORI GARCIA-MEREDITH’s formal training is in architectural lighting design. She is a self-
taught visual artist who has been practicing in some form for most of her life. Her work has, until recently, focused primarily on photography and painting the human form. One of her paintings was featured on the cover of flamenco guitarist Gareth Owen’s CD, “El Cobre.”

Lori has been a student of flamenco dancing since 2002 and has found the rhythm, lines and
expression an endless source of inspiration. She has been involved with the Victoria Flamenco
Festival since its inception in 2012. Recently, she has provided still photography for various
plays by BEMA Productions and Palabra Flamenco’s “Fox Woman.” She has been involved with
the 2021 Victoria Flamenco Festival as videographer for Alma de España’s “Victoria’s Flamenco
Family”, and the 2021 Vancouver Flamenco Festival as videographer and stage manager for
Alma de España’s live show, “La Familia”.

Denford Hall at Glenlyon Norfolk School

Larger Map