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Repertorio de La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española

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La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española

24 de julio, 2013 Teatro DROM de Nueva York a las 19:15 (hora de NYC)

Para mirar la transmisión del espectáculo en vivo via “streaming”

pinchar aqui:

 https://www.gander.tv/event/drom-medfest-2013-anna-tonna-724-715pm-9pm

La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española es un espectáculo multidisciplinar que ilumina por medio de la danza, la canción y la pintura a los protagonistas de la cultura flamenca del primer tercio del siglo XX: los bailaores Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina’, Encarnación López ‘La Argentinita’ y Vicente Escudero, y los artistas de la vanguardia europea de Entreguerras que se inspiraron en ellos.

La mezzosoprano Anna Tonna, la bailaora Rebeca Tomás, la bailarina de clásico español Anna de la Paz y la pianista jerezana María de los Ángeles Rubio, junto con el guitarrista flamenco Pedro Cortés y la cantaora Barbara Martínez, nos brindan un espectáculo de coreografías originales sobre música de Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz, Federico García Lorca y Gustavo Pittaluga, acompañada con imágenes de Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Frances Picabia, poesía de Federico García Lorca y fotografías de Man Ray.

Con todo ello, se intenta rememorar a estos artistas de la vanguardia europea de Entreguerras y sus creaciones basadas en la cultura flamenca de las décadas de los años veinte y treinta del siglo xx.

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Córdoba, de Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)

Baile, de Julián Bautista (1901-1961)

Polo Gitano, de Tomas Bretón (1850-1923)

Seleciones de El amor brujo, de Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Anda Jaleo, Nana y Tarara de Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

“Romance de Solita” del ballet La romería de los cornudos,

de Gustavo Pittaluga (1906-1975)

La corrida, de Quinito Valverde (1875-1918)

Farruca y alegrías tradicionales

Inspiración de escritores románticos (Gautier, Bécquer…) y pintores (Manet) desde finales del siglo XIX, la cultura flamenca, sus bailaores y el cante jondo ejercieron una gran fascinación sobre los compositores, escritores y pintores de las vanguardias europeas a principios del siglo XX. Estas “musas” de las vanguardias estuvieron en estrecha vinculación con la música de la rompedora obra de Manuel de Falla El amor brujo:

“Hemos hecho una obra rara, nueva, y desconocemos el efecto que pudiere producir.”

Manuel de Falla, La Patria. Madrid, 15 de abril de 1915

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Pastora Imperio en el escenario de El amor brujo, 1915

Pablo Picasso y Francis Picabia se obsesionaron con la representación plástica de la guitarra y la bailaora españolas en sus pinturas; al mismo tiempo, los artistas de la cultura flamenca bebían de las mismas aguas, reflejando las nuevas ideas y estéticas de las vanguardias del momento:

“Así una noche soñé que bailaba con el ruido de dos motores y al poco tiempo lo convertí en realidad, llevándolo a la escena de la sala Pleyel de París, en un concierto en el que presenté un baile flamenco-gitano, con el acompañamiento de dos dinamos de diferente intensidad. Yo, a fuerza de quebrar la línea recta que producía el sonido eléctrico, compuse la combinación rítmico-plástica que me había propuesto por voluntad, y que para mí representaba la lucha del hombre y la maquina, de la improvisación y la técnica mecánica.”

Vicente Escudero (bailaor), Influencia y el surrealismo en mi baile, 1948

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Many Ray, Fotografia de Vicente Escudero, 1928

La admiración de Lorca por la bailaora Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina” no es sorprendente:

“Esa española, enjuta, seca, nerviosa, mujer en vilo que está ahí sentada, es una heroína de su propio cuerpo; una domadora de sus deseos frágiles, que es la doble vista. Quiero decir que sus ojos no están en ella mientras baila, sino enfrente de ella, mirando y rigiendo sus menores movimientos al cuidado de la objetividad de sus explicaciones, ayudando a mantener las ráfagas ciegas e impresionantes del instinto puro.”

Federico García Lorca, Elogio de Antonia Mercé “La Argentina”

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En La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española, los géneros españoles de canción y danza clásicos sienten los clamores de los ritmos flamencos. La voz lírica se mezcla con la del vibrante cante. La danza clásico-española irá de la mano de la danza flamenca en un espectáculo inolvidable sobre el arte que inspiró a las vanguardias europeas de Entreguerras.

Caratula del disco de las canciones antiguas espanolas, cantadas por La Argentinita y con Federico Garcia Lorca al piano

Caratula del disco de las canciones antiguas espanolas, cantadas por La Argentinita y Federico Garcia Lorca al piano

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Music for La nuit espagnole: Romance de Solita from “Romeria de los cornudos”

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With this curious project that I have cooked up of La nuit espagnole:  Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard, I can finally bring out of the closet a couple of songs by classical Spanish composers that have influences of Flamenco music. Since my collaboration is with Spanish classical dancer Anna de la Paz and flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás, we all put in the mix the various ingredients that would make up this “experimental” evening of Spanish classical dance and flamenco dance and song, that premieres on July 24th at the DROM Theater, as part of Between the Seas Festival in NYC:

Córdoba by Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)

Baile by Julián Bautista (1901-1961)

Polo Gitano by Tomas Bretón (1850-1923)

Excerpts from El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Anda Jaleo by Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

Romance de Solita from the ballet La romería de los cornudos by Gustavo Pittaluga (1906-1975)

La corrida by “Quinito” Valverde (1875-1918) castanet solo

Traditional flamenco arrangements of Farruca and Alegrías

Our idea was to do an homage to the great flamenco dancers of the first part of the 20th century and highlight their relationship with the artists and intellectuals of the Spanish Vanguard of the time.  Anna de la Paz programmed items that were part of the repertoire of the great Spanish dancer Antonia Mercé “La Argentina”.  Anna chose “La corrida” by “Quinito” Valverde, which will be done as a castanet solo with piano, “Polo Gitano” (taken from the piano suite Escenas andaluzas) by zarzuela composer Tomas Bretón and “Córdoba” by Isaac Albéniz, all pieces that were part of Antonia Mercé’s repertoire.  I added to the mix a song from a somewhat forgotten ballet composed and dedicated to Antonia Mercé called “La romería de los cornudos”. I first heard this song, oddly enough, in a recording  with American mezzo soprano Nan Merriman and pianist Gerard Moore in a song recital album (re issued by Testament) from the 50’s of Spanish and French songs. I promptly ordered the score from Musicroom and have had it for YEARS. There is also a recording that I have not heard as of yet by Conchita Supervia with Gustavo Pittaluga himself conducting her in the orchestral version, dated 1933 (Conchita Supervia, Complete Recordings, Volume 4, Odeon).

During a chance meeting at a photo copy place in Madrid this past May with Granada-born flamenco poet Juan de Loxa, founder and past director of the Federico García Lorca House Museum in Fuentevaqueros, he clarified for me that although this ballet was composed for Antonia Mercé, who danced fragments of it in her presentations, the whole ballet was actually premiered by Encarnación López “La Argentinita“.

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Spanish dancer, Encarnación López, “La Argentinita”

Mr. de Loxa made available to me other supporting materials, including a lovely book that he edited that documented the close friendship between “Argentinita” and the poet Federico García Lorca.  The composer of the ballet is Gustavo Pittaluga, a figure from the so called Generation of ’27; known in Spanish music history books as part of the first wave of Spanish vanguard composers, his works are hardly done in Spain ( thought there is a recording of Romeria de los cornudos by Anton Ros Marbá with the Real Orquesta de Sevilla, 1996). A highly original composer, I listened to his curious orchestral piece Habanera in youtube.  Like most figures from the Spanish vanguard, he was interested in flamenco culture. The libretto of “Romería de los Cornudos” was done by the very much admired and respected writer and intellectual C. Rivas Cherif.

“Romance de Solita” is the one solo song in “Romería”, scored for mezzo soprano and orchestra.  It starts with a standard flamenco “llamada”, with extensive ornate flourishes. Solita is the town street singer, and tells the legend of the the miracles granted by the local church painting in a small village in the Sierras of Granada, the  Christ of Moclín with its legend of granting children to sterile women. The dance rhythms soon becomes evident, and it is interposed with free sections for the singer to sing the ornate flamenco like flourishes; I will sing this piece with Maria de los Angeles Rubio at the piano; both Anna de la Paz and Rebeca Tomás will present an original choreography to this piece.

Spanish classical dancer, Anna de la Paz

Spanish classical dancer, Anna de la Paz

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Flamenco dancer, Rebeca Tomás

100 Years of Flamenco in New York Exhibit at The NY Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center

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With this new project of La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the vanguard on my hands for this July at Between the Seas Festival in New York City, I am doing research into the fascinating world of flamenco dance.  Lucky for me, the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center currently has the exhibition 100 years of Flamenco in New York at the Vincent Astor Gallery, located in the lower floor of the library.  The exhibition opened on March 12 and runs through August of 2013.  Curated by American dancer and choreographer Carlota Santana, the exhibition tells the great yarn of the first Spanish dancers that performed in NYC, the evolution of this art form in American soil, and the emerging American artists that delved in Spanish dance that went on to have careers, found their own companies and train new generations in this art form.  Adding ingredients such as of  jazz and tap dance, flamenco in NYC continues to evolve and change; the American school of Spanish dance is a living genre, as dynamic as the New Yorkers of all walks of life that continue to perform it.  I  visited the exhibit last Wednesday afternoon, and save for a couple of people that came in for a short while, I had the place to myself.

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Main wall of the exhibition with large screen, which had different images that flashed, of past and current Flamenco dancers of New York City.

The exhibit starts its narration with the mid to late 19th century, detailing the first Spanish dancers to perform in New York City in the 1830’s and 1840’s. There is a an ongoing film of the first woman ever to be caught on film by Edison’s Vitascope in 1894, Carmencita the pearl of Seville, as well as engravings of  Fanny Elssler,  who danced for President Van Buren, and whose dance “La cachucha” stopped business at US Congress.  Interspersed with programs, photographs and drawings, the story tells the story of these early performances that took place in theaters, beer halls.  It became the craze in New York in the 1850’s.

IMG_0638Interspersed with the photographs, there were programs and beautiful drawings and etchings of these early Spanish dancers. One of them was intriguingly enough Japanese.  There were also pixs of these early performances, among them of a veritable battalion of Spanish dancers  in toreador costumes.  Many of these early performances took place in the old theater district of Herald Square, places like Niblo’s Pleasure Garden and the Eden Museum.

IMG_0634The waves of Spanish immigrants into New York City at this time, and with the founding of Spanish Benevolent Society on W. 14th, also provided a place for these recent New Yorkers to have a place for dance instruction for their children and the community.  The Spanish Benevolent Society is still in existence and carries on the tradition for Flamenco dance, known here in NYC as “La Nacional”.

Moving into the years following the Spanish American War, we encounter Antonia Mercé “La Argentina”, Encarnación López “La Argentinita” and Vicente Escudero, all personalities that are part of the early Spanish avant-garde that I’m highlighting.  The famous Man Ray photograph of Escudero was on the wall, as well as well known and more rare pixs of “La Argentina” and “La Argentinita” .  There was a photograph of a special dinner hosted by Spanish intellectuals at Columbia University to honor “La Argentina”; among that group was a young Federico García Lorca, who was soon to write his famous “Poeta en Nueva York”, who took part in the festivities that evening, taking the opportunity to recite poems from his Romancero Gitano.

La Argentina promo shot with Victrola

La Argentina promo photograph with victrola

Encarnación López “La Argentinita” and her sister Pilar where also headliners in those years in New York City. There were fun shots of their show, some showing them simulating a “cat fight”. Both of these acts played in the cities most prestigious stages.

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Pilar López and her sister “La Argentinita” in a promo shot for their New York Tour in the 30’s.

With the Spanish Civil War came the exile of a true blooded gypsy performer that took New York by storm, Carmen Amaya.  Donning pants a la Marlene Dietrich, Amaya was a virtuoso, with furious foot work that dazzled. She was billed by her manager Sol Hurok as “The Human Vesuvios”.  After Amaya, Spanish dance in America came to be seen exclusively as gypsy style Flamenco, sweeping Spanish classical dance styles to the sidelines. The Wild and unschooled Amaya was a contrast to the generation before her.  She appeared in numerous movies in Hollywood.

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Carmen Amaya poster on display at the exhibit

The most interesting part of the exhibit begins shortly after this segment, detailing who were the first pioneer Americans in the 1940’s that took up this art, many of them immersing themselves and traveling to Spain. Vicente Escudero and “La Argentinita” did their part in discovering native talents in New York City, such Italian born José Greco, who went on to have his own company, touring for 40 years and training several generations of American dancers.  One of his costume jackets is on display as well as various photographs. At one of the two ongoing film stations, Mr. Greco is interviewed,  speaking of his immigrant background and  of  the multicultural environment of his childhood years in Brooklyn.

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Brooklyn born Spanish dancer, José Greco

Other American stories emerged: a young Irish American dancer called Joan Fitzmaurice becomes the electrifying Maria Alba; Texas raised cowgirl, Russell Meriwether Hughes became a legendary Spanish and Indian dancer, author of books as well as a founder of her own academy in NYC, known as “La Meri”.  I saw inspiring photographs of Nuyorican female dancers that also where part of the Flamenco scene in the 1960’s in the city.  I was happy to see photographs of a young Jerane Michel, who was the choreographer of the Caprichos Boleros show I was involved with a few years ago, both in film as a castanet artist, and with her partners Mariano Parra, a half Andalusian, half Russian respected choreographer and teacher.  True to New York’s heritage, the American wave of Spanish dancers became experts in the field, some of them writing books, forming their own companies and foundations, such as the Foundation for Ethnic Dance by the legendary Matteo and his partner Carola Goya,

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Mariano Parra and Jerane Michel in the 1960’s.

The end of the exhibit show cased photographs of the flamenco dancers and companies that are performing currently in New York City, included is New York born Nelida Tirado, with whom I had done a song and dance performance for the Latin American Cultural Center in Queens, and is said to be one of the best flamenco performers in the city.  Also featured is friend Rebeca Tomas and her company “A palo seco”, which has garnished rave reviews from The New York Times, and is part of La nuit espagnoles: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard:

Link to promo video of A palo seco, dancer and choreographer Rebeca Tomas

All in all a fascinating exhibition that I highly recommend for lovers of Spanish culture, dance and those interested in cultural history of New York City. The exhibit is free and a great way to spend the afternoon; for more information,

http://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/flamenco-100-years-flamenco-new-york

La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard at Between the Seas Festival in NYC this July

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"Manicomio Flamenco", Spanish dancer, painter and writer Vicente Escudero, from   the book "Pintura que baila"

“Manicomio Flamenco”, by Spanish dancer, painter and writer Vicente Escudero, from
the collection “Pintura que baila”

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:

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“For the prodigious Antonia Mercé, with the affection and ardent admiration
of Federico García Lorca, New York, 1929″

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.

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Costume design by Néstor for “La Argentina” Antonia Mercé for the ballet El Fandango del Candil (1927)

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!

Between the Seas Festival and DROM Theater info on “La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard”, July 24, 2013