I had dabbled in the past with learning to dance flamenco in New York City in the past 10 years, when the opera Carmen and Manuel de Falla’s Amor brujo had come up for me. I also encountered dancers at the various types of Spanish music concerts I sang in the NYC area throughout the years groups like Caprichos Boleros, Amigos de la Zarzuela, always enjoying their company. Spanish dancers are breed of their own, emanating a special intensity…the past couple of years I have been involved in several multi-disciplinary projects involving dancers, recently with “Life and Dance in the Times of the Duchess of Alba” at Hispanic Society of America and “KLIMT: Artist of the Soul”. Dance seems to be in my heart and body in terms of my creative projects these days. If music creates a particular atmosphere, the adding of dance to the mix elevates the energy of theatrical space in a special and palpable way.
This past February I threw my hat in the ring with a new showcase festival in New York City that takes place in July 23-26 of this year, Between the Seas Festival, led by Greek producer, director and actress Aktina Stathaki. Now in its third year, the festival is dedicated to emerging projects by artists from and/or themes from Mediterranean culture. I proposed to Aktina a spectacle that had been stewing in my brain for the past couple of years, a collaboration with New York based flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás called La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard; the show brings dance, music and poetry together to highlight how flamenco culture and performers influenced and inspired the European Vanguard before the Spanish Civil War. Picasso, Lorca, Dalí and Picabia hung out and interacted with La Argentina Antonia Mercé, La Argentinita Encarnación López and Vicente Escudero both informally and artistically, and even corresponded with each other:
These particular dancers where multifaceted (a time also when there was no clear line between Spanish classical and flamenco) were in turn inspired by Cubism, Surrealism, as well as absorbing the intellectual concerns of the times regarding Spanish identity, as they searched for roots in the rhythms of Spanish folklore. Spectacles and costume designs were done by the Avant-garde designers, and there was a communing of the genres of the arts: painting, dance, poetry and theater. This time period is Spain’s so called “Silver Age” (1898-1936). The personalities in this era include composers Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Nin; painters Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga and Salvador Dalí; poets Juan Ramón Jiménez, Federico García Lorca and Rafael Alberti. On the international front just to name a few are photographer Man Ray and painter Frances Picabia. Flamenco, for these artists of the first wave of Modernism in Spain was a fodder, sort of wine that is consumed to perceive a mood and inspiration for artistic works that where on the vanguard of expression in the early part of the century up until the 1936 and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
This movement elevated what was before “rural” to a market of international art consumption of the highest levels both in Europe and the Americas. Its the beginning of the Spanish chic, already started with the 19th century Romantic travelers such as Théophile Gautier (with his book “A Romantic in Spain) and the propagation of the mythic “Exotic” country, with its perceived Oriental and African overtones prevalent in those times.
Calling upon dancer friend Anna de la Paz, who specializes en classical and folkloric Spanish dance, Spanish pianist María de los Ángeles Rubio, a native of Jeréz de la Frontera in Andalucía and the aformentioned flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás, we will be cooking up a show that unites Flamenco, Classical Spanish Dance, poetry and paintings to conjure up this exciting time in Spain’s cultural history. The show is premieres on July 24, 2013 at the DROM Theater in New York City, for more information please see the link below. More posts to come as we develop the show!