With this in mind, while ¡Q’Viva! is meant to showcase the essence of each country the production has visited, that doesn’t mean performers are locked into rote folkloric displays. Back at the Galería Nacional, Lopez encourages her Maid in Manhattan aficionado as he sings and stomps his way through a splay-limbed fusion that’s part flamenco, part ballroom vogue. Later, there are multiple performances by Josette, another trained flamenco performer, who performs a modern style in gold lamé leggings before tackling another traditional number. One of them scores the coveted ticket to Los Angeles, the other doesn’t — but this and other choices that day never fall neatly along historical lines.
The blend of new and old performers — both in style and in chronological age, as ¡Q’Viva! consideration was open to all — makes sense in terms of the show’s final product. Unlike in other competition-style or talent-focused reality shows, the performers who survive ¡Q’Viva!’s Los Angeles boot camp all work together. There is no grand financial prize but, instead, the chance to perform in a multidisciplinary musical extravaganza designed by King, perhaps the most in-demand live-show director on the pop-touring circuit.
King’s love for Latin culture runs back many years, over the course of which he’s worked with some of the biggest Spanish-language stars in the business, including Paulina Rubio, Ricky Martin and Shakira. “To be around them and really feel how they move to their music and feel their music, it’s a whole different energy,” he says.
The unusual skill set of the selected performers — and the sheer size of the cast — doesn’t phase King. This is, after all, the man who has directed productions for two circuses: the Britney Spears big-top–themed tour in 2009 and the famed Cirque du Soleil. “I feel like I’ve worked with every type of performer in the world,” he says. “Once you go Cirque, you’ve experienced everything. I am looking forward to working with drummers, musicians and the group acts — they’re always fun.”
The exact structure of the series-capping show remains to be seen, creating a challenge for its producers, whom King calls “preplanners.” But as ambitious and possibly flat-out over-the-top as ¡Q’Viva! sounds, Anthony and Lopez are determined to make it work as part of a universal mission to push forward the culture from which they came.
And maybe even other cultures, as well. Anthony, Lopez and King all envision future seasons and touring-show spinoffs. Anthony even imagines the brand going global in scope. “I have visions to do a spectacular live show that represents world music. Music transcends language,” he says. “The possibilities are endless. We have one shot to do it right, and it’s extremely ambitious, but we’ve met and exceeded every one of our expectations.”
Arielle Castillo is a Miami-based writer who was formerly the music editor of Miami New Times, the city’s major alt-weekly newspaper. She has also written for Spin, Rolling Stone, Flaunt, Nylon, AOL Music and Urb, among other publications and websites.