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Andrea Del Conte - Flamenco at Joyce SOHO

by Susan Weinrebe
January 26, 2007
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012
212-431-9233
Andrea Del Conte
(Andrea Del Conte Website)
Danza España

Flamenco

c/o The Center for Creative Resources
154 West 88th Street
New York, NY 10024

Stage Manager, Barbara Domue
Lighting Designer, Julie Ana Dobo
Costume Designer, Elizabeth Flourney
Choreography, Juana Cala, José Galvan
Dancers, Andrea Del Conte, Sol Koeraus, Mieko Seto
Guest Artist, Marco de Ana
Singer, Alfonso Cid
Singer/Dancer, Bárbara Martinez
Music, Antonio De Vivo
Guitarists, Arturo Martinez, Cristian Puig
Percussion/Bajo, Sean Kupisz


(See a Review of a Restaurant Near Joyce SoHo).
There is probably no more passionate form of dance than flamenco, and as it can be performed solo, that really says something.

Very close to the audience in the compact Joyce SoHo theater, Andrea Del Conte and her troupe of performers, five dancers, including herself and four musicians, danced, sang and played for a quintessential flamenco performance. Outside, it was frigidly cold. Inside the theater, they gave us the illusion of being warmed by the Spanish sun, as the heat of their performance permeated the room.

To experience flamenco, once must let go of certain physical inhibitions. Musicians or singers who are not dancing clap to punctuate the rhythms of the performer with a very resonant slap into the hollowed palm of the hand. Try it. You'll know when you've got it right. They may also stamp in counter point with the clapping. Spontaneously, they call out Olé! and other phrases of encouragement to urge the dancer on. Emotion, usually raw passion or what appears to be torment, is demonstrated by knitted brows and eyes downcast in deepest emotional expression. This form of dance doesn't hold coolness or aloof removal in esteem. And, how could it, with the dancers' percussive footwork resounding through one's own chest cavity?

Sol Koeraus, Bárbara Martinez, and Mieko Seto opened with a combination of dancing and singing, no easy feat, the aerobic quality of flamenco probably being akin to running a six-minute mile. They wore neo-flamenco gowns in a hip boutique combination of prints, as they took the chill off the audience with a three-voiced introduction to the show.

What followed was close to a dozen solo, group, or musical interludes, each with its own flavor. If I were fluent in Spanish, many layers of appreciation would have been added, as I could have understood the words along with the beautiful singing of Bárbara Martinez. Still, the universal language of music (especially the haunting flute playing of Alfonso Cid) and dance were more than satisfying.

There were two highlights of the evening. The first was a remarkable display of footwork by guest artist Marco De Ana. At first, as he promenaded the wooden dance floor, he teased with slow taps, then a flurry of percussion. Repeating this pattern as a motif, he increased the fury of his pace, double timing the striking of his boots so rapidly that each beat became one extended roll of sound. His dances were notable for the stamina required to perform at a fever pitch with such even control and precise movement.

Then there were Ms. Del Conte's performances. When she strode down the aisle to the stage in her Nile green, ruffled and trained gown, I felt that I was in the presence of a flamenco diva. Her haughty and haunted facial expression belied the purposeful grace of her head, shoulders and arms. Twining her hands like seductively luring tendrils, she revealed the confluences of Middle Eastern dance (Thank you, Moors!), classical dance, and gypsy magic. Kicking the several-yards-long train to the side, never losing a beat as she moved, was no mean feat of physical control and strength. And then Ms. Del Conte showed what more could be added, the element of sound, with that most flamenco of instruments, her castanets! Later, she danced again, this time clothed in traditional male hidalgo style, demonstrating, as she told me, "…the duality of the dance."

As a review of flamenco forms, the program and pace were varied enough to hold interest throughout. Notes to explain each of the dances or styles would have added weight to the program. Above all, I would have enjoyed more of Ms. Del Conte's virtuoso dancing in whatever mode of costume she chose.
Andrea Del Conte with Her Dancers & Musicians

Andrea Del Conte with Her Dancers & Musicians

Photo © & courtesy of Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

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