Flamenco Dancing In Queens
American Bolero Brings To Queens The Dance & Music Of Old Spain
March 16, 2012 / Astoria / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. I went to watch the American Bolero Dance Company perform Tablao Flamenco on Friday night. There were eleven performances by a panoply of dancers and musicians, who sensually revived the heart and soul of ancient Andalusia and colonial Spain.
The performances were exciting to watch. The dancers’ hard heels struck the wooden stage floor, in a staccato rhythm. And as the taps resounded in the air ... the cantadores emoted the melodies of Spain's Medieval past, filling the theater with vibrations of the spirit.
The dancers’ fast-footed movements, belied the beautiful tranquility of their lithe upper torsos and slender arms, flowingly extended up into the air, entrapping us as we watched. In the photo to your right is Gabriela Granados, dancing the flamenco in Astoria.
Click here to read the rest of our review of Tablao Flamenco – flamenco dancing in Queens.
Flamenco Dancing In Queens
American Bolero Treats Queens To The Dance & Music Of Old Spain
Continued. March 16, 2012 / Astoria / Dance in Queens / Queens Buzz. I arrived at the Chian Federation Building on Broadway in Astoria a bit after 8 pm. After picking up my ticket, I was seated at a table in the large dining room facing the stage. Waiters and waitresses were taking orders for wine and appetizers, as well as meals - generally priced below $10 and $20 respectively. There was a bit of time to kill before the show began and all around me conversations were going, about the things that make up our lives. In the photo to your right are the attendees of Tablao Flamenco at the Chian Federation Building in Astoria.
As I looked around the room, I knew I was in Queens, for there were people from around the globe, come together to enjoy and celebrate one of the many cultures residing amongst us. I could tell from talking to Gabriela before the show, that she was passionately involved in her chosen profession.
The Chian Federation Building seemed to provide a perfect venue. The ceilings rose some thirty feet up into the air, and a large chandelier hung in the middle of the room. Faint aromas from the food wafted in the air and after a few sips of wine I could feel the weekday worries washing away. By 9 pm the humming din in the room began to abate. And as the lights dimmed I felt as if I had been transported back to Andalusian Spain and a simpler, slower way of life.
Capriccio Espagnol – Flamenco Dancing In Queens
The stage lit up and the performance began. The dancers appeared on the stage in choreographed movements. The castanets complemented their syncopated gestures; the dancers movements timed to the music via their rhythmic motion.
The shell shaped castanets complimented the melodies of the musicians, as they’ve done for thousands of years. The castanets are believed to have been brought to Spain, from Egypt, by the Phoenicians … and while they still retain their original shell shaped form; today castanets are made of fiberglass. In the photo to your left, Gabriela Granados, Adriana Jacinto and Kirsten Avelar are shown dancing flamenco in Astoria.
The frilly red dresses provided a dazzling spectacle. The dancers movements were followed closely by the dancing shadows which graced the stage walls like grey apparitions, teleporting us into another world … the world of ancient gypsies and the Medieval Islamic civilization, that once flourished on the Iberian peninsula a millennium ago. As the dancers exited the stage the crowd showed its appreciation and applauded enthusiastically.
Aires del Sur – Spanish Culture In Astoria Queens
Two musicians came onto the stage and began playing the guitar and the cajon. The cajon is a box shaped percussion instrument, which originated in Peru and provides a mix of percussionist sounds. The musicians began serenading us with a romantic Spanish style guitar melody, augmented by the sounds of the cajon, in a rhythmic jazzy style. When it was over, the crowd lit up with applause. Jose Moreno and Cristian Puig are shown playing the cajon and the guitar, respectively.
Los Heraldos Negros & Recuerdos del Alhambra en Astoria
Gabriela performed the next two pieces as solo performances. One was the reading of a poem in Spanish entitled Black Messengers [Lost Heraldos Negros] by Cesar Vallejo. Here is the translation:
There are blows in life, so hard … I don’t know!
Blows seemingly from God’s wrath; as if before them
The undertow of all our sufferings
Would pool in our souls … I don’t know!
There are few; but are .. Opening dark furrows
In the fiercest of faces and the strongest of backs.
They are perhaps the colts of barbaric Attilas
Or the black heralds that Death sends us.
They are the deep falls of the Crhists of the soul
Of some adorable faith that Destiny blasphemes.
Those bloody blows are the crepitations
Of some bread getting burned on us by the oven’s door.
And man .. Poor … poor man! Turns his eyes around, like
When patting calls upon our shoulder;
He turns his crazed eyes and all that was lived
Pools, like a puddle of guilt, on a gaze.
There are blows in life, so hard … I don’t know.
And in the following piece, Gabriela artfully performed flamenco poses in her chair, with the pause and great deliberation that focuses one’s attention on her each and every gesture. Again and throughout the evening, the crowd expressed its appreciative applause. Gabriela is shown performing Recuerdos del Alhambra above.
Tango La Cumparsita – Tango Dancing In Queens
The last act of the first set was a duet by a husband and wife team of tango dancers. The piano, accordion and drums accompanied them as they told the story of the relationship between man and woman, held together by a cloth connection, symbolizing something we know is there, but which we cannot see. The dance was spirited, then gentle, and ultimately tenderly romantic. And after the applause the lights came up and conversations began around the tables. Laura and Pedro Escudero are shown dancing tango in the photo to your right.
I spent the intermission talking with the lighting technician, Dan Hansell who did a beautiful job of contributing to the visual ambiance; and I had the opportunity to photograph Basilio Georges and Aurora Reyes conversing / rehearsing during the break. I perused the room and enjoyed seeing a room full of people relaxing in this cultural milieu on a Friday evening in Astoria. At my table there was a pediatrician / artist, his wife and their daughter who filled me in on some of the names and details of the performances.
For the second half of the show, the musicians and dancers adopted the Tablao Flamenco. This format is traditional of flamenco dancing in old Spain, where the performers sit around in a semi-circle and take turns getting up to dance, sing and play the music. The tablao is the hard wooden floor that allows the dancers to make percussionist sounds with their feet. The pink flamenco, after which one is named, is a beautiful pink bird found in warmer climes.
Buleria – Musical Jam In Astoria Queens
The first piece was a jazzy jam of Spanish guitar, so very well played by Cristian Puig and Basilio Georges. Alfonso Cid and Aurora Reyes took turns singing the lively flamenco song, which in Spanish means to make fun.
As the next few performances followed, I put down my pen and my camera to just take it all in. The performances included Jaleo del Cuadro, which is a traditional singing style for the cuadro flamenco.
Two of the last four performances were sung in a deep primal – almost operatic – Spanish style vocals called cante jondo or ‘deep song’. It’s a beautiful longing melody, that brings emotions to the fore. Aurora Reyes and Alfonso Cid are seen passionately singing cante jondo in the photo above to your left. In the photo below [l to r] Alfonso, Basilio Georges and Cristian Puig accompany cante jondo with their flamenco guitar playing.
The Rondena, which included the cante jondo singing, was a beautiful flamenco dance performance by Rosa Olympia Estrella. Rumba Mi Santa was danced by Aurora Reyes, and Solea was a flamenco dance performed by guest dancer La Tania from San Francisco. Solea was also accompanied by the cante jondo vocalists. At the end of the show a couple of old friends and flamenco dancers joined the group up on the stage to dance the last piece entitled Fin de Fiesta.
American Bolero Dance Company Queens
American Bolero Dance Company will present two more flamenco style dance performances on April 20th and May 18th – both Fridays, beginning at 8.30 pm at the Chian Federation Building which is located at 44-01 Broadway Street in Astoria. The dance performances and some of the performers will be different from the performances I saw, but will include cante jondo musicians, flamenco dancers and the American Bolero Dance Company.
Flamenco Dance Classes In Astoria, LIC, Long Island City & Queens NYC
The American Bolero Dance Company came to LIC in 2001 / 2002 and has been teaching Flamenco dancing in Queens ever since. The school caters to people of all ages who want to learn to dance flamenco style., and tries to segregate classes according to age and experience. The dance studio moved to Astoria in 2005 and is now located at 30-16 Steinway Street in Astoria.
Photos of Flamenco Dance Performances In Queens
Click here to view photos of flamenco dancing in Astoria Queens. Click here to go directly into the flamenco dancing in Astoria Queens photo album.
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