Art Imitates Art: “La nuit espagnole” in Lower Manhattan

A small group of artists decided to run with the concept of multimedia performance in a show called “La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard” in the Between The Seas Festival in Lower East Side Manhattan (DROM) on July 24, 2013.

I attended virtually from my laptop since it was streamed live. This was not equal to witnessing this event live since the image was blurry and it was hard to see some of the performers’ expressions. They also did not capture the projections of art work on which this mélange was based. However, the sound was quite good.

The show was an interpretation in music,  dance and images of the “La noche española” exhibition at the Reina Sofia in Madrid from December 2007- March 2008. (For more information on that exhibition: )

The performers for the evening were: Anna Tonna, a lovely mezzo-soprano, Rebeca Tomás, flamenco dancer, Anna de la Paz, dancer, María de los Angeles Rubio, pianist, Pedro Cortés, guitarist, and Barbara Martinez, flamenco singer.

The dancers were phenomenal. I studied flamenco in New York City, so I know how challenging it is to get your “roll” on the castanets and to coordinate arms and legs while playing an instrument. Unlike some other dances, feet do one thing and arms and hands do something else. It takes training to build up the muscles in the legs and feet. The feet function as another instrument, providing a contrasting rhythm, “zapateo” in the special flamenco shoes. Head, expression and carriage are extremely important to reflect a Spanish style and stance.

It was surprising to see a female dancer dressed in pants and vest, and dancing a farruca, which is traditionally danced by men. This reminded me how far Spain has come in bending traditional gender roles, from the Franco era. At that time women’s behavior was tightly modeled and controlled. Nowadays there are even female toreadores! (bullfighters).


“Córdoba,” by Celeste Mann 2012

Both singers sang with gusto and technique and expression appropriate to their genres. Even though there was a mix of music—from popular/folk/flamenco to the opera/ballet of Manuel de Falla and the “Córdoba” of Albéniz, the music blended well from one number to the next. This attests to the very strong dance rhythms inherent in Spain’s musical traditions. De Falla was also inspired by popular/folk music (i.e. Siete Canciones Populares) and elements of “cante jondo” from flamenco singing are evident in his operas and ballets.

One can view the show at the DROM website. It won’t be live but it will give you a little taste of Spain, wherever you are!

Related Links: (Julian Bream playing “Córdoba”)


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