Briseyda Zárate Fernández is a professional Flamenco dancer, choreographer and teacher of 30 years, and has been an active member and leader of the LA Flamenco community for just as long. She is a Mexicana/Chicana with Indigenous and Andalusian Roma/Gypsy ancestry born to Mexican farm working immigrants in Delano, Ca. from Tanganciquaro, Michoacán. Briseyda has performed locally, statewide, nationally and internationally, including Spain’s top venues and festivals. Her dancing embodies the spirit of freedom & rebellion inherent to Flamenco and centers on live musicians, improvisation, community, channeling of ancestors, and feminine empowerment and leadership. She is one of the few in the top-most level of those practicing this art form in the United States.
Briseyda began studying dance at the age of 5 in Delano Ca. under the instruction and mentorship of Darlene Ziegler, in the disciplines of ballet, jazz and tap. She performed and competed professionally until the age of 18 when she fell in love with Flamenco dance while an undergrad at UCLA where her first teacher was Liliana De Leon Torsielo. The first time she performed as a semi-professional in tablaos and theaters was at age 20 with her teacher Gabriela Garza. After graduating with a double Bachelors in Chicana/o studies and Latin American History, she began teaching elementary school in Echo Park and resigned after two years to move to Madrid and become a professional Flamenco dancer.
In Madrid she studied daily at Amor De Dios ~ Centro de Arte Flamenco y Danza Española. Her teachers were María Magdalena, Belen Fernandez, Candela Soto, Ciro, La Truco and Manuel Reyes Maya with whom she studied the longest. After her second year in Madrid she began to perform professionally in tablaos and peñas and ultimately became a dancer in the cuadro at the renown tablao El Café De Chinitas. During this time she shared the stage with noted artists, Juan Treviño, Leo Treviño, El Ciervo, Antonia la Pescailla, La Chungi, and Los Habichuela.
She returned to the US when she was 30, making Southern California her home and Los Angeles her base where she performed in every flamenco venue with well known local artists Jesus Montoya, Jose Tanaka, Gabriel Osuna, Gerardo Morales, Antonio Triana, Antonio de Jerez, Kai Narezo, Manuel Gutierrez, Jose Cortez, Vanessa Albalos and Mizuho Sato, to name a few. Performance highlights include The Fountain Theater, The Ford Amphitheater, The Hollywood Bowl, and The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where she choreographed “Carmen” for the LA Opera.
Her performances have taken her up and down the Golden State and the nation, including to the prestigious dance festivals of Jacob’s Pillow and the Festival Flamenco in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she won first place at the Flamenco Expo in 2007 and where in 2021 she presented her show “Mestizaje Puro” to much acclaim. She continues to perform and produce high quality shows with exceptional flamenco artists. In 2023 her work was recognized by the California Arts Council who awarded her an Individual Artist Fellowship for artistic excellence as an established artist.
Briseyda has always kept her connection to Spain, traveling yearly for extended periods to perform and study in Madrid and Andalusia. One of the highlights include “La Fiesta de La Buleria” in Jerez de La Frontera under the direction of Maria Bermudez, where she shared the bill with La Farruca, Remedios Amaya and Esperanza Fernandez. Most recently she has traveled to Sevilla to study Cante intensively at the Fundación de Flamenco Cristina Heeren. It’s the first time she’s formally trained as a singer although she’s been singing for flamenco dancers for well over a decade.
Briseyda is passionate about being a good artist and a good teacher. She’s taught this profound art for 25 years and her mission is to keep the essential Flamenco alive. She is sincerely committed to transmitting her understanding of this extraordinary art form to the next generation of dancers.