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Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company’s Esensoria Radiates with the Heart of Flamenco

by Bonnie Rosenstock
March 12, 2019
Teatro Círculo
64 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-1808
On March 4 while in the lobby waiting to enter Teatro Círculo’s intimate theater for Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company’s Esensoria, we were directed to a table and invited to choose one of five items placed in separate plastic cups: an orange slice, Spanish sherry (Manzanilla), an apple slice, a chestnut and a Spanish olive. We were asked to take our selection into the theater and to partake with the performers as we experienced flamenco through the five senses, taste, touch, sight, scent and sound, and how they connect with each other. The Playbill posed myriad questions related to each sense that we were asked to consider, especially “How do you feel about flamenco?”

The four-person ensemble consisted of Al Margen’s co-founders, native New Yorkers Ryan Rockmore and María de los Angeles, who conceived, directed and choreographed the show, singer Alfonso Cid and percussionist Jeremy Smith. The two dancers, who founded Al Margen in 2015, made a beautiful duo, finely tuned to each other’s movements, moods and nuances.

The first part, “Las cantiñas a gusto” (to taste) was developed in different cities in southern Spain. The verses, sung by the incredible throaty voiced Seville-born Cid, referenced different foods related to Spanish culture. There were four large cubes on the stage, one set with orange slices, one with a bottle of sherry, another olives and one with chestnuts. Rockmore and de los Angeles savored each one in turn, in addition to imbibing the fragrance of flowers, while executing fine foot movements, sweeping arms and impressive turns. Cid offered up a red apple, which the three bit into. At the end of this sequence, de los Angeles was holding her stomach.

“El tanguilloído,” a polyrhythmic, playful style of flamenco music with narrative and humorous verses, supplied the sound section. Smith produced sharp staccato sounds with his snare drum, great cajón beats and didn’t overuse the cymbal. This was the most zapateado (footwork) section with de los Angeles and Rockmore taking turns atop the cubes, which seemed to resonate with differing sounds. There was also a box with some granular matter, in which de los Angeles tapped and shuffled out some fine footwork. The two dancers also engaged in finger snaps, claps and rhythmic syncopated body slaps.

For the overly long smell sequence, “Huele a saeta” (Smells like saeta), the dancers and singer used an incense-filled censer to reference saeta, a religious-based flamenco song performed a cappella, especially during Holy Week (Easter) in Spain. They alternated swinging it back and forth, in a circle and flinging it towards each other, the smoke enshrouding them for a great visual. This section, however, should come with a warning. I thought I would pass out from the overwhelming smell and almost bolted from the theater.

“El tacto romanceado” opened with lyrics from romances de ciego (blind person), a song style developed in the Middle Ages. This section, the sense of touch, mystified me. Cid was wearing a blindfold. The two dancers wore tight-fitting blue gloves and danced close to one another, the gloves seemingly guiding their movements. They looked for a ball all over the stage and under patrons’ seats. They tossed it back and forth to each other.

Guajira is a song style influenced by Cuban music, which is flirtatious and feminine. (Also, Cuban slang for a Cuban woman from the countryside.) “La guajira vista” (seen) featured the two dancers expertly using orange fans to reveal and conceal their eyes. The rainbow-infused lighting was spectacular, courtesy of Daniela Fresard, whose visual and sound tech provided wonders throughout the production. At the finale, with recorded music, Rockmore and de los Angeles had fans with scarves attached to create dramatic rippling movements.

The senses have never been quite so dissected and uniquely directed in a dance. Ultimately, without thinking too much about it, we feel flamenco.
Ryan Rockmore and María de los Angeles of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Ryan Rockmore and María de los Angeles of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Photo © & courtesy of Terrence Hamilton


Ryan Rockmore of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Ryan Rockmore of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Photo © & courtesy of Terrence Hamilton


María de los Angeles of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

María de los Angeles of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Photo © & courtesy of Terrence Hamilton


Ryan Rockmore of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Ryan Rockmore of Al Margen Flamenco Dance Company

Photo © & courtesy of Terrence Hamilton

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