A single woman stood on a platform center stage, light flooding her from above and the wings, smoke surrounding her and effortlessly swirling above and around her, creating a fountain-like path. The men in black were behind her, covered in the shadow of the light, finger-picking their guitars and wailing to the woman in front of them. She was still, wrapped in a beautiful red shawl, and she slowly began to turn. Her eyes never met ours, but she sensed the thousands of them watching her every move. She did not care, and the more she teased us with her stubborness of giving us less, the more and more we wanted to see.
Manuela Carrasco’s Suspiro Flamenco, part of the Flamenco Festival run at the New York City Center, was a pinnacle performance showcasing a dance legend perfectly balanced and lifted by her musicians, singers, and male counterparts. With a sense of aloofness and composure partnered with erratic and virtuosic footwork, Carrasco’s body was a schizophrenic enigma, a picture that was playing tricks on the brain. The evening was filled dance vignettes of her soloing and her male dancers, Rafael Del Carmen, Oscar de los Reyes, and Choro, trying to outshine the other with faster feet, faster turns, and faster everything. The singers were incredible, singing to Carrasco and her mignons, fueling the fire in the dancers’ souls, bringing them all a little closer to the divine spirits that possessed their bodies for the short time. And we were all lucky enough to witness this spiritual intervention, shouting and clapping from our plush seats, waiting for the next jaw-dropping moment to stir our insides. Everyone in the audience was restless, either in anticipation of Carrasco’s musically impossible outbursts or in reaction to those magical moments. And it truly was magical. Suspiro Flamenco ended with a dramatic interaction between Carrasco and one of her singers: a couple’s fiery relationship, with Carrasco ignoring her lover’s pleas and then finally giving in to her own despair and begging him for forgiveness. This back-and-forth continued, tears almost coming through the voice of this beautiful singer, carrying Carrasco’s soul with him forever in a lover’s detsiny.
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE:
1. Flamenco Festival continues! The Flamenco Festival USA ends this weekend in New York City, so be sure to catch the last remaining performances at venues like Le Poisson Rouge and SOB’s!
2. I want to learn Flamenco! Nelida Tirado was the official flamenco dance teacher at the NY City Center performances – she was a wonderful instructor and extremely easy to follow (and to understand – very important!). She offers classes in New York City on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at the Roy Arias Studios.
3. Where can I find Flamenco shoes? Flamenco shoes are very particular and may be hard to find at a local dance shop – NY’s On Stage Dancewear in midtown carries them, but also online store FlamencoShoes.com!
4. Back to flamenco’s homeland: I recently met Palace Tours owner Supinder Singh whose company is starting to offer dance tours in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, where flamenco originates. Book a trip and experience flamenco in the land of its ancestors!
5. Upcoming shows at the NY City Center: The New York City Center recently underwent some major renovations and reopened in October 2011, hosting top-notch artists – upcoming performances include Martha Graham Dance Company, Barcelona Ballet, and Capezio’s 125th Anniversary Celebration!