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Xianix Barrera
Performance Reviews
Arts and Education
New York City Center

Nuevo Ballet Español: Flamenco Directo and Flamenco Class by NÃ(c)lida Tirado

by Xianix Barrera
February 28, 2006
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Nuevo Ballet Español: Flamenco Directo and Flamenco Class by Nélida Tirado at the New York Flamenco Festival

Xianix Barrera
February 28, 2006

On Thursday, February 16, 2005 at 8 pm in NY City Center, I had the privilege of attending the production of Flamenco Directo by the Nuevo Ballet Español as part of the New York Flamenco Festival, produced in part by the World Music Institute. To put it simply, it was an astounding experience that takes you into various elements of flamenco puro (pure) and new emerging trends in flamenco nuevo.

Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez (founders, directors, principle dancers, and choreographers of the company) broke traditional rules found in flamenco by taking a creative and modern approach to their vision. A key example is in the opening piece ('Directos') which consists of the company members dancing in extremely nontraditional attire, black jeans and black shirts.

Those who are familiar with flamenco performances, particularly those seen in tablaos, know that flamenco dancing is usually done by one dancer; it is vastly improvised and dependent on the duende of the dancer and musicians. Subsequently, one may presume that to view a show with choreographed pieces with more than one dancer may not have the same effect. However, the company members definitely crush that presumption, each demonstrating their own finesse and mastery of the art of flamenco.

The company was accompanied by the special guests, the legendary dancers Lola Greco and Miguel Angel Berna. Señora Greco delivered a passionate and graceful style to her performance, incorporating her classical ballet training by using moves that are not seen in flamenco puro. Miguel Angel Berna's regional folk dance called jota, which uses castanets and suede shoes with no nails on the heels or toes, was electrifying and distinctive.

Without a doubt, Rojas and Rodriguez were the men who brought down the house. Rodriguez, in his solo piece 'Siento', brought you into his world with his ardent movements and sex appeal, as Rojas, in 'Gotas de Sabor', brought a sense of flirtation and excitement into his captivating steps as his sweat trickled over the audience members.

My favorite component of any flamenco show is the 'fin de fiesta'. This is when all members of the production come together at the conclusion of the show and set the stage for particularly the singers and musicians to dance for the audience. The one who caught my eye was the percussionist, Diego "El Negro" Alvarez whom I recognized from Joaquín Cortes' "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" DVD. Not only can the man dance, showing us his belly as he slapped it like a banjo, but he also has another talent. Rodriguez passed El Negro a pair flamenco boots so that he can demonstrate to the audience that he can also dance with his hands, playing the heals on the floor like a drum set.

The audience was left yearning for more from this celebrated company. Rodriguez and Rojas illustrated that they can deliver a modern feel to flamenco while remaining loyal to its roots.

Nuevo Ballet Español: Flamenco Directo

Contact Info:

Gachí Pisani
C/ Carretas, 14. 5û i - Oficina 1
28012 Madrid (España)

Tel: +34 91 523 46 22
Fax: + 34 91 532 92 01

Direction: Ángel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez

Choreography: Ángel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez, Miguel Ángel Berna (Soy Mudéjar and Templanza)

Lighting Designer: Gloria Montesinos

Sound Designer: Antonio Blanco

Costume Designer: Paloma Gomez

Music Composition: Gasper Rodriguez, Daniel Jurado, Nicasio Moreno, Juan Campos, Elisa de la Torre, and Antonio Rey

Principle Dancers: Angel Rojas, Carlos Rodriguez, Lola Greco, and Miguel Angel Berna

Company Dancers: Esther Esteban, Ana Arroyo, Cristina De Vega, María López, Loli Sabariego, Iván Martín, and Ricardo López

Musicians: Emilio Florido (vocal), Maria del Mar Fernández (vocal), Gaspar Rodríguez (guitar), Daniel Jurado (guitar), Diego "El Negro" Alvarez (percussion), Nicasio Moreno (violoncello), and Elisa de la Torre (flute).

NY City Center offered ticket holders of the Flamenco Festival a free flamenco class taught by the former member of Compañía María Páges, Nélida Tirado. Ms. Tirado's class focused on the different elements of flamenco dance; hand movements, Palmas (hand clapping), footwork, and body posture. She explained the names for the footwork that is used; the golpe (stomping), planta (toes of the foot), and tacón (heel). She also explained the different types of palmas and when to use each in the song. Sordas, deaf or muted, and claras, clear sounds of hand clapping. She also taught a small choreography in Tangos emphasizing that we enjoy ourselves while we dance. Ms. Tirado was a patient, encouraging, and entertaining teacher who helped those who attended the class feel like someday we could be the flamenco dancers on the stage of NY City Center.

Postscript by Robert Abrams: It is very unusual to see a dance class offered in conjunction with a dance performance. I would like to commend the World Music Institute and the other organizers of the Flamenco Festival for trying this. The class was well attended. Ms. Tirado, who I have seen perform with great skill and passion, was able to get a room full of mostly beginners to be able to implement some basics of genuine Flamenco. I contend that this will help to deepen their appreciation of the dance performances they see, and will make them more likely to come back for more of dance performance (and for a few attendees, dance classes as well). I would encourage dance companies and event organizers to view this class and the Flamenco Festival as a successful precedent. I would encourage them to try offering dance classes for their audiences along with their performances.

Nuevo Ballet Español
Photo courtesy of Jesus Vallinas

Nelida Tirado teaches Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Nelida Tirado teaches Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Nelida Tirado teaches Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Nelida Tirado teaches Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Nelida Tirado teaches Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

Xianix Barrera has been studying flamenco dance since January, 2005 with Jorge Navarro.

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