A Tropical Dream: DanzAbierta’s “Malson”

Five dancers, 3 women and two men, relate on the stage and with projected videos. They are in the videos sometimes, walking up and down a staircase, sitting on the Malecón (pier) in La Habana, overlooking the sea, and fighting each other in a car. Sometimes the video projection is a scene from a busy street in La Habana, where Cubans rush shoulder to shoulder. These frantic images and the peaceful ones, watching the waves and the sky, juxtapose with the action on the stage as if in a dream. “Malson” is the name of an hour long dance piece by the Cuban modern dance company DanzAbierta. Malson is Catalán for nightmare, but also can have a double meaning in Spanish.  “Mal” is bad or evil, while “son” is a typical Cuban rhythm/musical genre.

DanzAbierta means “Open dance” in Spanish. This is a fitting name for the company, which was established in 1988, by Marianela Boán. From its inception DanzAbierta, considered itself “avant-garde” and within that context, infused different forms of art into its choreography. Malson was choreographed by Susana Pous, a dancer originally from Barcelona, who currently resides in Cuba. In a video clip, Pous explains that her style of choreography is based on improvisation and includes lots of input from the dancers. She will present a theme to the company and they will begin to create together. Therefore, the resulting dance is much more organic and related to each dancer’s body, style and personality:

Malson by DanzAbierta, was performed on March 22, 2018 and Friday March 23, 2018, in Philadelphia, and is part of a larger Cuban Arts Festival at the Annenberg Center Live. The Artistic Adviser and Designer for Malson is Guido Gali, and music and videos are by X Alfonso. General Adviser is Noel Bonilla-Chongo. The phenomenal dancers are: Mailyn Castillo, Lissett Gallego, Diana Collumbié, Gabriel Méndez y Marcel Méndez.

On stage the nimble dancers interact with each other and with a big moveable block. The women wear dresses in black or gray and high heels–note that this is not the contemporary dance of barefeet and leotards, typical of modern dancers in the United States. Much of the music is new and electronic/instrumental, but there are a few traditional Cuban songs with lyrics in Spanish. The movements of the dancers range from salsa steps to more lyrical choreography, as well as sharp and frenetic actions. They cover the entire stage and various levels–from rolling on the floor, to lifts and flips. The choreography is polished yet natural and appears to come from within the dancers, illustrating Pous’ explanation of a collaborative process that brings out the uniqueness of each dancer.   Sometimes the dancers are in couples. They also dance in unison or like robots/dolls to represent the struggles within the relationships.

29257870_1590006417762361_4254547770203220958_n

What is most innovative to me is how the choreography relates to the video that is projected on the screen behind the dancers. The dancers seem to interact with themselves and the people and environment on the screen. This creates a tension between the video, dancers and audience. It is not just a pretty backdrop as used in some productions–it is an intrinsic para of the drama and the dance. It creates a visual experience that is interactive. One of my favorite instances was when the camera moved through a Havana street. It was as if the action was taking place in that very street and I was along for the ride. Most poignant and poetric were the scenes on the Malecón, overlooking the ocean.

Running time: 1 hour.

Malson by DanzAbierta goes next to Washington DC, on March 30, 2018. For more information check Susana Pous’ website or DanzAbierta’s Facebook page.  For upcoming events at the Annenberg Center Live in Philadelphia, visit their website.

Advertisements

Tango Fire: Then and Now

The piano, violin, bandoneon and bass players are the backdrop for this dark, sultry tango café ambiance. I imagine myself in early twentieth century Buenos Aires, in a dive in a back alley at about midnight. Men finely dressed in suits and ladies in black and white period dress and hairstyles recreate the lively interaction on Wednesday January 31, 2018 at the Merriam Theater (Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts) in Philadelphia, PA, in the United States. A packed theater, full of dance, music or Latin American fans, were taken away to that back street in Buenos Aires for two hours in German Cornejo’s Tango Fire. 

The initial dance that opened Tango Fire is a throwback to the past. The couples dance the same steps in sync and the tango singer, Jesús Hidalgo, sings in Spanish with a handheld microphone. Various vignettes take place in the first half of the show, including a serenade with a guitar to a lady on the bench.

Although this half is meant to depict the early origins of Argentine tango–with music by the great masters, Piazzolla, Pugliese and Gardel, it is plainly evident that these dancers on stage are much more skilled and virtuostic than the European immigrants and Argentine locals who danced the tango socially over a century ago. The dancers display lots of clean and fancy footwork, characteristic of tango, but also some low lifts and jumps, pirouettes, leg extensions and high kicks and backbends, which attest to the ballet and acrobatic training of these formidable dancers. The company includes: German Cornejo (choreographer), Gisela Galeassi, Sebastian Alvarez & Gloria Saudelli, Marcos Esteban Roberts & Louise Junqueira Malucelli, Ezequiel Lopez & Camila Alegre, and Julio Jose Seffino & Carla Dominguez.

The second half of Tango Fire goes beyond tango’s humble origins and showcases some dances and movements that effectively and excitingly  push the boundaries of the genre, without losing touch with it. This is no small feat for the choreographer, German Cornejo, since tango has been so codified in the ballroom, dance school and even in the social tango context. The music performed by Quarteto Fuego (Clemente Carrascal–bandoneon, Gemma Scalia–violin, Matias Feigin–piano and Facundo Benavides–contrabass)  in the second half is more experimental and contemporary with some dissonance, but still accessible. In this act, the women dancers let their hair down (literally!) and the choreography is more varied. The interactions between the dancers seem more personal, more intense and smoldering. There are many lifts, spins, and level changes—from poses kneeling on the floor, to throwing a dancer in the air. There are also group dances that connect women and men, men and men and women and women, in ways that go beyond the traditional male/female partners in social or ballroom tango.

Julio _ Carla 3 copy

Jose and Carla

The costumes throughout the show are spectacular. They are beautiful to look at, colorful, with sparkles and different styles and periods.  In addition, they are appropriately comfortable for strenuous dance movements. In the second half there is more individuality for each couple’s choreography and costumes and each one makes its mark. German and his partner Gisela, exhibited complete concentration and synchroneity in their numbers and a distinct sharp or percussive gesture at times, which created contrast with tango’s typically smooth body phrasing–this enriched the overall effect of their choreography and execution.

Here is a video of German and Gisela from a few years ago:

The Quarteto Nuevo played with gusto for the entire performance. The only break was intermission. The pianist, Matias Feigin, performed a solo that was robustly applauded by the audience in the second act. The ensemble transitioned seamlessly from 20th century tango to more contemporary pieces, with a jazz influence. The concert ended with an encore by each couple after a rousing standing ovation. The Tango Fire company continues this tour around the United States, and it is a must see for ballroom dance and tango aficionados.

German Cornejo & Gisela Galeassi 3 copy

For more information and the schedule for upcoming concerts, please visit their website at: Tango Fire or the Facebook page. Next stop is Queens, NY this weekend!

German Cornejo: Emergence of a Modern Tango Choreographer

I had the pleasure of speaking with choreographer and tango dancer, German Cornejo in a phone interview, conducted in Spanish, on January 29, 2018. He and his company TANGO FIRE, are performing around the United States. 

German Cornejo knew that he wanted to dance early on. At home in Argentina, in the province of Buenos Aires, German was surrounded by music and dance. Folkloric dances such as the la chacarera, el gato, la zamba y el malabo, were part of his childhood.  At 8 years old he began to study these folkloric dances, and soon after would learn the tango. His grandparents and other adults in the family would tango at parties and other family gatherings, and when German’s mom saw him imitating his grandparents while listening to tango at home, she asked him if he would like to really learn it. Once he began to study tango at age 10, he loved it and decided dance would be his life.

In our conversation, German spoke of tango dancers and teachers who influenced him, such as Roberto Herrera and Nelida Rodriguez, but also of international pop stars like Prince, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, and Madonna. He listens to many different types of music and the unique lives and styles of these international artists serve as models of how to break out of one’s genre, take risks and blaze a new trail.

In addition to tango and folkloric Argentine dance, German has also trained in ballet and jazz, which enrich and add more depth and breadth to his dancing and choreography.

Tango Fire, headed by German, is both the name of the tango company from Buenos Aires, and their show currently on tour in the United States.  On January 29, 2018, they performed in Virginia Beach, and on January 31, they will present Tango Fire in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater, part of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. German explained that this particular show features historical tango and more avant garde tango. Some of the company’s other shows include tango electronico, tango breakdance, Hollywood music and tango, as well as Piazzolla. In this way, German has stretched the boundaries of traditional tango to include other types of music and dance forms.

German Cornejo & Gisela Galeassi 5 copy

German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi. Photo by Oliver Neubert

The Tango Fire company is comprised of German, his dance partner, Gisela Galeassi, Sebastian Alvarez, Victoria Saudelli, Marcos Esteban Roberts, Louise Junqueira Malucelli, Ezekiel Lopez, Camila Alegre, Julio Jose Seffino, and Carla Dominguez. They are accompanied by musicians of Quarteto Fuego, and the tango singer, Jesus Hidalgo. They have traveled and performed tango all over the world.

The company will rehearse for 8-9 hours per day depending on the show. German says that his choreographic process varies with the piece, and that usually it will take about a month to create a new work and polish it. Sometimes German will pick the music first, and has in his mind what the steps and movements will be.  In other instances he will involve the dancers earlier on in the process and have them improvise to music.

My last question was about milongas. Do they still go to these informal social dances and do tango? He jovially replied, “Yes, but when we have down time and aren’t intensely preparing for a show. When we are rehearsing tango 8-9 hours per day, we need a break from it!”

At the end of the interview, German stated that he hopes the people of Philadelphia will come out to the show Tango Fire, because it traces the history of tango, features different styles, showcases a cast of fantastic dancers, and is accompanied by live music by four incredible instrumentalists and a vocalist!

I can’t wait!! Check back at the end of the week for a review of Wednesday’s performance! 

Tango Fire performs on January 31, 2018 at 8:00 pm at the Merriam Theater–250 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia. To purchase tickets to this spectacular show, call the box office at 215-893-1991 or purchase them online.  For more information about Tango Fire’s extensive tour schedule (and to check when they are coming to YOUR city), visit their website.

 

 

Lorca Crosses Over in Philadelphia: Wilma Theater’s Blood Wedding

Federico García Lorca is Spain’s most popular playwright/poet of the 20th century. Unfortunately, his life was cut short by events leading up to the Spanish Civil War, but his poetry and plays live on in the hearts and minds of the people. Blood Wedding or in Spanish, Bodas de sangre, is part of a trilogy of plays that includes the phenomenally well known La casa de Bernarda Alba  (The House of Bernarda Alba), and the less often produced, Yerma.  Almost everbody in Spain and most of Latin America is familiar with these plays. In addition, the Repertorio Español in New York, has had La casa de Bernarda Alba in repertory for decades, and in Philadelphia, a captivating bilingual version was recently staged in the 2016 Fringe Festival.  Wilma Theater’s new production of Blood Wedding in Philadelphia is further proof that there are no national borders that limit the appreciation of Lorca’s art.

Wilma BW 2

– Jered McLenigan, Campbell O’Hare and the Company of The Wilma Theater’s 2017 production of Blood Wedding. Photo by Bill Hebert

In my opinion, Lorca’s plays in English tend to be less successful than those done in Spanish or bilingually, even though they are more accessible to an American audience, many who have never heard of Lorca and don’t speak Spanish either. There is a poetry, a cadence, a rhythm and passion to the words that is sometimes lost in translation. Also, when producing his plays in English, there may be an attempt to “make it Spanish” with realistic set, period costumes and even Spanish music, but that can seem superficial alongside English words and inauthentic gestures/body language.

Wilma Theater employs an original English translation by Nahuel Telleria, and takes a novel approach to Blood Wedding. It avoids the previous mentioned pitfalls, by stripping Blood Wedding down to its pure emotion and action.The plot revolves around a young woman who is going to marry a man that she does not love. She has been involved with another man who comes from a family that is notorious for violence, and there is an ongoing feud between her fiance’s family and the old lover’s family because of previous murders. Hungarian director and choreographer, Csaba Horváth, builds a world onstage that is full of movement, intensity and sound. This production has a sparse set and dramatic lighting, both designed by Thom Weaver.  Sound design is by Larry D. Fowler, Jr. and Oana Botez fashioned simple costumes that are appropriate for the physical movement required. Blood Wedding  incorporates live (non-Spanish) music composed by Csaba Okros, and sung and played by the actors themselves.

Wilma BW 6.JPG

 Lindsay Smiling, Campbell O’Hare, and Matteo Scammell in The Wilma Theater’s 2017 production of Blood Wedding. Photo by Bill Hebert.

Blood Wedding as physical theatre works. The action is riveting and all attention is on the performers since there is no fussy set to distract. The choreography is innovative and utilizes the entire stage and a balcony on a second level. The characters also sing, chant and play instruments. But the music, like the interactions, is earthy and raw. This fits in well with the rural characters’ motivations, frustrations and passions.

The ensemble has been preparing the movement in Blood Wedding for over a year. Most of the cast are members of “Wilma HotHouse” and include: Ross Beschler, Taysha Marie Canales, Sarah Gliko, Justin Jain, Jered McLenigan, Campbell O’Hare, Jaylene Clark Owens, Brett Ashley Robinson, Matteo Scammell, Lindsay Smiling and Ed Swidey. As the Bride, Campbell O’Hare is most expressive in her dancing and physical movement. She is able to convey the desire and insecurity of a young woman marrying a man she doesn’t love while pining for another. Ed Swidey, as her father, handles Lorca’s words naturally–the part seems written for him. As the groom’s mother, Jaylene Clark Owens’ is a strong, yet wary matriarch.  Lindsay Smiling, as Leonardo (the old flame) in terms of dance/physical technique, is a supportive partner in the pas-de-deux with both his wife, played by Sarah Gliko,

Wilma BW 7

The Company of The Wilma Theater’s 2017 production of Blood Wedding. Photo by Bill Hebert.

and lover (O’Hare). He communicates his conflicting feelings through the choreography. Sarah Gliko stands out, not only for her acting and movement, but for her singing and playing musical instruments throughout the show.

Wilma Theater is known for its experimental theatre, so it is in its tradition to do something “different” with one of Lorca’s masterpieces. This Blood Wedding is an experience that will appeal particularly to those who appreciate experimental approaches, dance and physical theatre. If you are looking for flamenco, Spanish costumes, an elaborate set, and want to revel in the sound of Lorca’s verse, look elsewhere. Movement and pure emotion take center stage in this production.

Please note that the running time of Blood Wedding is an hour and fifty minutes, with NO intermission.

“Azul”, a new play by Tanaquil Márquez: Getting Under Picasso’s Skin!

Two women, Inez Korff and Liliana Ruiz, in traditional black dresses dance the fiery flamenco. No music is even necessary because their feet beat the rhythm in a precise yet complex zapateo. Later, the guitar and drums, played by Blane and Donna Bostock, join in—their soulful and passionate sounds make a grand match with the dance, to bring out the duende, first theorized by Federico Garcia Lorca, Andalucía’s native son. The flamenco comes from Spain, specifically Andalucía, from the “Roma” people, los gitanos, or more universally known as “the gypsies.” In her new play, Azul, Tanaquil Márquez weaves flamenco dance, movement, Spanish music and multilingual spoken dialogue into a collage of Pablo Picasso’s life before he became famous. Azul, presented by La Fábrica at The Drake Theatre in Philadelphia, is also directed by Márquez, and the score is composed by Blane Bostock.

IMG_5019

Márquez dives into the reason or motivation for Picasso’s “Blue Period,” hence the title, which means blue in Spanish. Azul is a play packed with the love affairs, friendships, and eccentricities of Picasso’s early life. His painting “La Vie” (the life), is the point of departure and also the cohesive element connecting the music, dance and the scenes. Two of the characters, Carles, Picasso’s best friend, and Germaine, a woman they were both involved with and who both tried to kill, are seen as subjects of the painting La Vie” in Azul. Picasso’s blue period is characterized by an emotional despondency, triggered by the death of his best friend. In this phase of his life, his art was seen at the time by collectors as “depressing” and not “sellable” due to the subjects and the limited palette.

Azul is an ambitious and epic work, more than two hours long. It requires much attention from the viewer, since the characters speak Spanish, French and English. There is a poem recited in Catalan by Carles too. Picasso at least translates it into Spanish in the scene.Márquez (in her writing) and the cast handle the languages expertly—they flow naturally and effortlessly. As a fluent speaker of Spanish and English, and a former student of French, following the language shifts was not a problem for me, but I imagine for monolingual English speakers, especially those without much knowledge of Picasso’s life or work, it could be challenging. In that case, Azul would offer a completely different experience.

IMG_4843

Nevertheless there is enough going on with the music, dance and movement to captivate even the monolingual audience member. Particularly strong are the scenes in the second act which incorporate dance, choreographed by Liliana Ruiz: when Picasso visits the woman’s prison and the bullfight/dance with Germaine. Both captured the respective moods and communicated the message without words.

Márquez also directs the extremely talented ensemble of performers. As Picasso, Zach Aguilar, is a very likeable protagonist, perhaps much more than Picasso himself and he delivers well in both Spanish and English. He has a commanding stage presence that reflects the charisma that Picasso probably had in real life. Paloma Irizarry as Odette, was a sweet and sympathetic lover, and she also displayed versatility as the other “positive” women in Pablo’s life, Nina, Conchita and Fernande.   I was impressed by her natural quality in both French and Spanish.

IMG_4967

As Germaine, Sol Madariaga was cruel and brazen. Madariaga excels as the villian, displaying a calm unfeeling exterior at times, and then bursting into a rage. She was the one who rejected Carles, and later engages in a dysfunctional and obsessive relationship with Picasso. Germaine was appropriately over the top, aggressive and irritating. She was the perfect contrast to Odette, and she was the menace loved and hated by Carles and Picasso. Germaine is depicted as a negative influence on both men, yet she appears as a subject of “La Vie.” As Carles Casagemas and Max Jacob, friends of Picasso, Cameron Del Grosso, shows tremendous acting range. Carles comes across as a fragile yet romantic and sincere artist, while Max is confident and much more in control. Inez Korff, Yajaira Paredes, Veronica Ponce de Leon Placencia and Liliana Ruiz round out the cast and deserve extra praise for dancing and playing both male and female characters convincingly. Dramatic and effective lighting was designed by Alyssandra Dochtery and costumes by David Reese Hutchison.

IMG_4823

Azul is definitely a “must-see” for artists and lovers of Picasso’s art, if only to commiserate in the representation of his struggles. It provides background information about his life and his creative inspiration. It shows onstage the dilemma of “how do I sell my art and still be true to my own self/voice” that all artists face at one point or another. Flamenco aficionados will enjoy the dancing, and Spanish speakers will appreciate the opportunity to attend theatre in the language in Philadelphia.

Hopefully we will be seeing more of La Fábrica and of works by up and coming playwright, Tanaquil Marquéz. Azul plays through Sunday August 29 at the Drake Theatre in Philadelphia. For tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/azul-tickets-35309378301

For more information about La Fábrica: https://www.facebook.com/LaFabricaTheater

To read a review about Azul in DCMetro Theater Arts: DC Metro Theater Arts

Ballet Hispanico At the Annenberg in Philadelphia

Ballet Hispanico, a professional dance company from New York City, presented three pieces in their dance concert at the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on February 5, 2016. Very different in theme, each dance contained hispanic inspired music (Bury Me Standing uses traditional gypsy melodies, which are recognizable today by many in Spanish flamenco)  and also showcased the versatility, artistry and innovation of the company: Sombrerísimo, (choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in 2013), Bury Me Standing (1998 by Ramón Oller) and Flabbergast (2001 by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano).

The first dance, Sombrerísimo, featured male dancers with hats, hence the name, which translated from Spanish, would be something like “extremely hats.” According to the program it was based on the artistic works by Belgian René Magritte, which were of men wearing bowler hats. The style was mostly “modern” with a little bit of latin (as opposed to classical ballet), in which the feet and the rest of the body are able to take on movements outside the ballet vocabulary. The hats were tossed around and became characters as well.

The longest and most serious piece of the evening was Bury Me Standing.  I love the title. It comes from a Romani proverb, referenced in the book by Isabel Fonseca: “Bury me standing, I’ve been on my knees all my life.” This refers to the oppression that the Roma (aka the gypsies or gitanos) have experienced for centuries. Ms. Fonseca’s book, Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey, was published in 1995, based on her own observations drawn from four years of living with the Roma. The choreographer is from Spain, and Spain has a huge Roma, or gitano population in Andalusia. Having spent part of last summer in Granada, I visited Sacromonte (the Roma part of town) and flamenco was all over Granada so  their culture was still fresh in my mind.

Bury Me Standing is a tribute to the Romani, but never replicates the footwork or the intricate handiwork of the flamenco, although there are glimpses of it. The choreographer goes beyond what we usually see as gitano or flamenco dance to invoke a mood and tell the story. Only the men do the hand movements at one point. Everyone is barefoot in the dance so even in a lined up formation, no noise could be made or heard from the stylized footwork that recalls zapateo. The style is contemporary or modern dance, with some flamenco/gypsy inspired movements. The choreographer makes excellent use of the stage–there is no part of it that is not used at some point in the piece. Levels are also varied, with some steps taking place with the dances on the floor, on their knees, or jumping. There is a table too, and two women relate on the table. All of this results in a very multidimensional and multilayered performance.

Through the intense choreography and imaginative staging, they communicated the somewhat foreign context of the Roma. The emphasis on the collective, the group consciousness and unity was evident, as well as a charismatic male leader, who had a few solos. We see some of the conflict that occurs in this group, as the women walk on their knees, gossip and cross themselves repeatedly. Some men also walk on their knees, but the group of women doing it is singled out and very striking. The Roma are more traditional and patriarchal than mainstream Spanish culture today, and this was well depicted through the dance. At the same time, the crawling and walking on the knees, refers back to the Roma proverb, and is a reference to the oppression that the Roma have experienced for so long, no matter what country they live in. The dance ends with all of them running in place, which could have various interpretations–perhaps a more positive one is that they are standing up and empowered. Bury Me Standing is a  moving tribute to the Roma, these “nomadic” people who have spread throughout Europe and even to the United States.

The last dance, Flabbergast, was light and funny, and a good ending to the evening. They broke the fourth wall, sung while they danced: “voy a bailar, ” and talked to each other. In this dance, which the program says ” exposes with humor our stereotypes and preconceived ideas about new and foreign places… telling the story of a newcomer coming to a place for the first time”. somebody is always doing their own thing on stage! Ballet Hispanico ended the concert with a pose and a smile–after a varied and polished program that entertained and encouraged the audience to think, laugh and feel.

***

Ballet Hispanico was founded in 1970 by Tina Ramírez. The company specializes in Spanish and Latin American inspired dance. In addition to their professional touring company, they also maintain a thriving school to train young and aspiring dancers in Spanish dance, Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance. The current Artistic Director is Eduardo Vilaro.

 

 

SAMBADELFIA! BRAZILIAN SAMBA DANCE CLASSES IN PHILADELPHIA

BRAZILIAN SAMBA DANCE WORKSHOP In Philadelphia February 14th at 11:30 am. Where? at The Performance Garage 1515 Brandywine Street, Philadelphia PA

It’s Carnaval season, so take advantage of this one day samba dance workshop with professional dancer and choreographer Angelica Cassimiro.

*The class starts with a 25-minute warm up that exercises basic isolation of the body, following by stretching and strengthening exercises. After the warm up, Angelica introduces the students to samba no pé (basic samba step) and passo marcado (simple choreographies), typical of the Rio Carnaval. The whole class is accompanied by the sound of upbeat and irresistible Brazilian music. Be ready to sweat!!

*Come with comfortable clothes and be prepared to be barefoot -PRE-PAY RATE -$16 per workshop class Payment accepted via PayPal following the link below: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UEQAV9WGQG5TA

DROP IN RATE day of class- $18 per workshop class CASH only day of the event Please email, text or call Angelica with any questions or concerns at: Cassimiroa@gmail.com 973-220-7784

****Classes don’t happen weekly at this time because this young but experienced dance artist is constantly on tour. Be sure to spread the word and experience these classes while you can*****

 

 

 

 

 

A Grand Night for Singing: The Hispanic Society Presents Works by Enrique Granados

It was dark outside. By 5:00 pm in December the sun has set in New York City. Walking out of the subway at 155th Street, I was worried that I would get lost. The map on the wall in the station was of no help since the Hispanic Society wasn’t even listed. The one and only time I had been in this neighborhood was back in the late 1990s, visiting the Hispanic Society to look up zarzuela scores and libretti.

As soon as I reached the corner, my heart leapt as I spotted an image of the Goya’s Duchess of Alba on a sign. To my right, ahead, across the big avenue, I recognized the looming campus.  There is something about the design of this Beaux Arts building, along the Audobon Terrace–the walkway, the iron bars, that is so reminiscent of Europe, so Madrid.

HispanicSocietyofAmerica

By Asaavedra32 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I was very excited to attend this concert  of Granados’ music–From Barcelona with Passion: Enrique Granados in New York, on December 10, 2015.  Two friends were singing, Anna Tonna and Gustavo Ahualli, along with soprano Anna Belén Gómez, Anna de la Paz (dancer), Diane Lesser (English horn) and Borja Mariño (piano). The concert had been advertised on Facebook since September, and “everybody” involved in Spanish music was going.

12359978_10156212784255618_721100945095223251_n

This was indeed a grand night of music, a unique retrospective of Granados’ pieces. Many of them were performed in their original versions for the first time in New York City at this concert. Aside from the passionate performances, what made this event different and special, was its venue. The exterior of the building is majestic. Inside it houses some of the most cherished Spanish artwork outside of Spain, as well as an archive of literature and music.

12241270_10206669492549792_5300264704953632401_n

The performance took place in the interior courtyard. “Orchestra” seats were on the ground level and filled up fast. I arrived 20 minutes early and was seated near the back. The guest list was five or more pages of typed names and I wondered where they would put everyone if many of them showed up.  Once the first floor was full, guests were directed to the second floor, the “balcony,” where they had a view of the entire floor below of both performers and audience.

12299396_10156211602165618_1765278823907876101_n

On both floors we were surrounded by priceless works of art and entranced by the Spanish atmosphere. The art, the architecture, and the music, combined to make this a fascinating and singular event. Even the reception included Spanish wines, a Rioja and a white. Our senses were stimulated and satisfied a la española. Did I mention all this was FREE?

For more details about the concert please visit Anna Tonna’s blog, Spanish Song Slinger: https://spanishsongslinger.wordpress.com/

Poeta en Nueva York — Rafael Amargo

En el teatro del Generalife en la Alhambra de Granada (España) se presenta el espectáculo de flamenco de Rafael Amargo, que es una mezcla de danza, música, cante, poesía e imágenes. El ritmo y el espíritu gitano predominan en la obra pero también hay una fuerza creativa intrínsica. Esto paralela e imita el desarrollo de la obra poética de Federico García Lorca y su elevación del flamenco, ya que lo puso al nivel de otras artes españolas.

Lorca (1914).jpg
Lorca (1914)” by Unknownhttp://www.fotografias.net/22-10-2007/noticias/encuentran-fotografia-inedita-de-federico-garcia-lorca-en-la-universidad-de-granada. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Este teatro no es puro flamenco. Hay escenas que representan aspectos más tradicionales de lo gitano como la boda y la improvisación, pero otras en que parte de esta tradición y la combina con otros estilos de baile e interpretaciones. De cualquier forma es un espectáculo vivo, dinámico y reverente a Lorca y el flamenco. El ambiente al aire libre de Generalife de la Alhambra contribuye al encanto de la experiencia. ¡Este es un show que no se debe perder!

Photo by Celeste Mann

Photo by Celeste Mann

Poeta en Nueva York sigue hasta el 29 de agosto (de 2015), en el teatro de Generalife en Granada. ¡Aprovechen y compren sus entradas ya!

http://www.elcorteingles.es/entradas/teatros-y-musicales/entradas-poeta-en-nueva-york-granada-00000000t00000000U00000000I

¡Flamenco por todos lados!

Granada es una ciudad que toma en serio el arte de flamenco–cante y baile. Se puede ir al barrio de los gitanos mismos, el Sacromonte, y comer platos típicos y asistir a un show de flamenco. Durante julio y agosto de 2015 hay un espectáculo de flamenco muy profesional y entretenido en el Teatro de Generalife, “Rafael Amargo–un poeta en Nueva York,” sobre Federico García Lorca. Además, por dondequiera en Granada hay anuncios sobre más espectáculos, restaurantes de flamencos y clases de música, cante y baile flamenco. Pero el flamenco en Granada no solo aparece en forma “oficial,” en un tablao o escenario con público que paga, sino también en la calle, a veces improvisado y a veces preparado.

photo by Celeste Mann

photo by Celeste Mann

En la plaza cerca de la Catedral baila y canta “Cristo de Anda.” No cobran nada por su show, pero el público suele darles unos euros al final. Hoy vi a este grupo por eso de las 7:30 de la tarde. Perdí al bailaor, pero sí, asistí a los bailes de las dos mujeres y pude escuchar el cante y la música que las acompañaban. Los bailarines y músicos estaban completamente metidos en su estilo y en la ejecución del flamenco. Como de costumbre, las danzas eran serias y las bailarinas exihibían buena técnica y sobretodo mucha emoción y pasión.

Photo by Celeste Mann

Photo by Celeste Mann

Se puede tomar clases con Cristo de Anda en su escuela en el Albaicyn, y aprender más sobre la historia de flamenco. ¡Anímense! Allí se hablan francés, español, inglés e italiano. Para más información: cristodeanda@gmail.com
cristodeanda.wix.com/cristodeanda