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Winchester Cultural Center season includes American Gypsy

The Winchester Cultural Center, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, has announced its schedule for the first quarter of the year, and there are some standout performances planned.

American Gypsy

American Gypsy is scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday. The show is a spin-off of a book launch event organized by Henderson author Oksana Marafioti for her book “American Gypsy: A Memoir.” The book launched in July with an event packed with Gypsy performers at the Clark County Library.

“We had about 400 people there, and they really liked it,” Marafioti said. “After the show a lot of people asked when we’d be doing it again. It came as a complete surprise to me.”

Marafioti’s book dispels some of the myths about Gypsies, more properly called Romani, and talks about her and her family’s lives and experiences. Her family lived in the Soviet Union before it fell and were Gypsy performers. The show is an extension of the book, with Marafioti acting as a sort of narrator and master of ceremonies.

“I’m telling two parallel stories,” Marafioti said. “I’m talking about my book and my family in Russia and the immigrant experience, and I’m also telling the history of the Gypsies. That’s where the performers come in.”

Marafioti said there are four main acts: a flamenco dancer who performs to live guitar, an Indian dancer, a Russian Gypsy dancer and an opera singer.

“This is what my family used to do,” she said. “The format is even similar.”

After this performance Marafioti is set to begin work on a new book, assisted by a Black Mountain Institute-Kluge Fellowship in partnership with the Library of Congress. She will be out of town until May researching at the Library of Congress. When she returns, she’ll sort out the group’s next move.

“We might take the show on the road,” Marafioti said. “We’ve been offered bookings in several towns.”

Jazz Workshop

The group Jazz Workshop is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 featuring Mike Gonzalez on trumpet and flugelhorn, Julian Tanaka on clarinet and saxophones, Justin Peterson on upright bass and Eric Schauer on drums. The performers have put on regular Monday night workshops for about a year, first at The Bunkhouse Saloon and now at Ferraro’s, 4480 Paradise Road.

“Our show will be 75 minutes or so,” said Schauer. “When we perform at Ferraro’s and when we performed at The Bunkhouse, it was a four-hour show that was more loosely structured. It was off the cuff. If someone wanted to play a Thelonious Monk tune, we just did it.”

He said the Winchester show would be more streamlined and structured, because the group wanted to get things just right for it.

“We want to take care in the way the set moves,” Schauer said. “The show will include original compositions and works by Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman and a Duke Ellington piece.”

Schauer said the covers are all selections by people who influenced the group.

They’re excited about bringing their act to a more diverse audience, including children, who don’t normally get to hear them play at adult-only venues.

“Something we hear a lot at our Monday night gigs is people saying, ‘I don’t normally like jazz, but I like you guys,’ which is great,” Schauer said. “We want to bring in not just jazz fans, but people who haven’t listened to this kind of music before.”

A diverse season

The remainder of the season is to include Italian jazz violinist Luca Ciarla, the Las Vegas Camerata Youth Orchestra, Izel Ballet Folklorico, the Speakeasy Swingers, Xochipilli Folklorico, the
Encore show choir and the Georgian song and dance ensemble Iveria.

Patrick Gaffey, Clark County cultural supervisor, said the diversity in programing at the Winchester is intentional.

“We try to bring in a wide variety of things,” he said. “We must be doing something right, because more often than not we’ve got a pretty full house.”

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 702-380-4532.

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