SONIA & ISMAEL
Hailed by The New York Times as “a furnace of earthy sensuality”, Sonia Olla was born and raised in Barcelona when she earned a degree in Spanish Dance and Flamenco at the esteemed “Instituto de Teatro y Danza” in Barcelona.
She has toured as company member and soloist with flamenco greats such as Antonio Canales, Eva la Yerbabuena, Rafaela Carrasco, Merche Esmeralda, María Pagés, La Farruca, among others.
Bailaora of international prestige, director and choreographer of her own shows, Sonia currently resides in New York, where she combines teaching with her performance and choreography career. Venues include The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge, the Rose Nagelburg Theatre, Baruch Performing Arts Center (NY) and Instituto Cervantes (Chicago), and various Flamenco Festivals.
Together with the Flamenco singer Ismael Fernández, her partner on and off the stage, Sonia has created a wide range of shows such as Tablao Sevilla, Entretiempo, Por Los Caminos and Tiempo al Aire. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Yorker, as well as Spanish newspapers such as ABC, El País, La Vanguardia.
Sonia has also made television and radio appearances on Tele 5, Cadena Cope, Radio Nacional de España, Punto Radio, Onda Cero, Cadena Ser, as well as the renowned Internet show “Flamenco TV.”
Sonia collaborated with the pop-icon Madonna to choreograph the worldwide “Rebel Heart Tour” 2015-2016, and 2017 worked with Ricky Martin providing Flamenco choreography for Lola Lola in his show “All In!” Sonia and Ismael are recipients of the CUNY Dance Initiative (CDI) Residency in both 2018 and 2019 and debuted their original piece “Ella” at CDI’s 5th Anniversary Fest. The duo have performed their own shows on tour in Asia along with New York Clubs including The Triad Theater and Joe’s Pub. 2019 highlights include the New York Flamenco Festival, the International Dance Festival in Havana, Cuba and the Edmonton Flamenco Festival. Recent performances have included a collaboration with Tedx Cambridge and the presentation of a new show, Gloria, presented by the Spanish Embassy of Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana. Sonia and Ismael teaching artists at Berklee School of music, where the couple presented a show at the BPC in January of 2020. In 2021 Sonia starred in Tomer Zvulun’s Threepenny Carmen at the Atlanta Opera, appearing as Carmen’s Flamenco dancing alter-ego, and Sonia created the original Flamenco choreography for this project and in 2022 performed in the Minnesota Opera’s Gala Carmen performance.
Described by The Washington Post as the “most charismatic performer” and a “connection to the Gypsy source”, Ismael Fernández was born in Seville, of Gypsy descent, grew up performing in flamenco festivals throughout the world with his internationally renowned family, “La Familia Fernández”. His career began in Spain’s premier flamenco tablaos such as El Cordobes in Barcelona, La Carboneria in Seville and other famous flamenco cuevas of Granada.
In 2004, Ismael won the National Contest of Cordoba, singing for the famed dancer Soraya Clavijo and was a finalist in the Festival De Cante De La Union. He joins his family regularly to perform in the celebrated Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla. Throughout his career, Ismael has worked with flamenco legends such as Antonio Canales, Farruquito, Marina Heredia, El Torombo, the prestigious Orchestra director Gustavo Dudamel and Rafaela Carrasco to name a few.
For several years, Ismael has been a featured company member of internationally acclaimed dancer Maria Pages, performing at The Joyce Theater (New York), Sadler Wells Theatre (London), Esplanade Theatre (Singapore), Orchard Hall and Bunka Mura (Japan), Teatro La Zarzuela (Madrid), Teatro Real (Madrid), and the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona).
Ismael moved to New York City in 2014 together with the flamenco dancer Sonia Olla, his partner on and off the stage. Since then, he combines the Cante classes with performance at internationally acclaimed venues such as The New York City Center, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington DC), Carnegie Hall (NY), Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA) and the BPC (Boston). He created a large number of shows together with Sonia, including Tablao Sevilla, Entretiempo, Tiempo Al Aire and Por los Caminos and recently Ella and Gloria.
He has made several radio and television appearances, most notably “NYC Arts” (PBS), Tele5, Radio Nacional de España, Cadena Ser, Punto Radio, and Onda Cero.
Ismael collaborated with pop-icon Madonna for her “Rebel Heart Tour” – 2015-2016 and samples of Ismael’s voice are featured during “La Isla Bonita.” He performed as a tribute to Alejandro Sanz at the Latin Grammy’s in 2017 singing for the gala naming Sanz “Mejor Perssona del Año.” Ismael lent his vocals to Ricky Martin’s Las Vegas show “All In!” for the number Lola Lola.
Ismael has toured in Asia, and debuted the Modern Pure Flamenco piece “Ella” at the CUNY Dance Intiative’s 5th Year Fest. He performs regularly in clubs in New York City, Flamenco Festivals across North America including Sante Fe and Edmonton, and Ismael and his company performed in Cuba’s International Festival of Dance. Ismael debuted his album “Trato” at Joe’s Pub as part of the Flamenco Festival New York 2019. Ismael performs his original music throughout New York City at clubs including Joe’s Pub, Club Bonafide (residency) and DROM (upcoming 2021 residency). With Sonia, Ismael created and toured with their new show Gloria in the Caribbean, presented by the Spanish embassy of Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Ismael is a teaching artist at the Berklee College of Music and was musical director of the Spanish Ensemble’s performance in 2020. In 2021, in addition to releasing his original music from his album “Trato,” Ismael consulted with the Atlanta Opera on the company’s “Three Penny Carmen.” Ismael lives, works and creates in New York City.