Sunnyside / Fall & Winter. Friday night I went to see the performance of 'The Best Of The Best Of Mestizos' at Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside. I arrived at the theater about fifteen minutes before eight. The lobby had the artsy feel of a west village theatre of the late eighties or early nineties. Along the walls in the lounge there were a number of posters of prior shows and a knight’s armor standing in the corner. A small crowd had already congregated in the theater lounge waiting for the doors to open.
Thalia Spanish Theatre - Things To Do In Queens
I was seated at the top row inside the theater, but since there are only eight rows, I was still very close to the stage. The theater chairs were about as comfortable as the seating of an old performance hall like Carnegie prior to renovations. Along the left side of the stage, the eight piece band’s instruments lie awaiting the performance.
The lighting and seating of the theatre gave me the classic theater feeling of anticipation. Perhaps it was the crowd’s enthusiasm too. Angel Gil Orrios greeted us. He informed us that the performance would go straight through to the end; lasting about an hour and a half [turned out to be close to two hours]. And soon the performance began.
Theatrical Performances In Queens - At Thalia Spanish Theatre
There were more than a dozen different dance pieces, all from various locales and times in Latin America. I’ll describe a few of them in a moment. Thalia is a Spanish Theatre, hence the music, while varied, was culturally all Latin, and played by an eight piece band. The band performed beautifully under the direction of Musical Director Harold Guiterrez, accompanying the dancers with piano, drums, trumpet, flute, guitar, saxaphone, symbols and voice. Each musician had the opportunity for a cameo as the mix of music was quite varied.
The costumes were absolutely beautiful as you can see by the photos. All very colorful, as you’d expect of the Latin cultures, and many of flowing gowns. The female performers used these beautiful adornments as instruments of their craft, mixing dance and theater into one flowing wave of movement, flash and flair.
The variety of dances held my interest in spite of all of the accompanying ballads being sung in Spanish. I was generally able to intuit the dance themes from the scenery, music and the little Spanish I know, mixed with some cultural exposure to Latin America and its history. But if you don’t know Spanish and you can coax a Spanish speaking friend along, I would recommend it, as it will enhance your comprehension. That said, understanding Spanish is not required to enjoy the performances. Armando Moreno is the Artistic Director of Mestizo, and choreographer of the performance.
Latin Culture In Queens - At Thalia Spanish Theatre
So let’s delve a bit deeper. The title of the performance was ‘The Best Of The Best Of Mestizo’. In Latin America a mestizo is someone of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry. Typically these were cowboys. Tonite its significance was that the performances were both from the European and native Latin American Indian cultures.
The first performance, entitled ‘Roots’ was about the Incas, Aztecs and Mayas and the Spanish and African influences. It has a royal and legendary feel to it. The next performance was a sort of sultry, sexy Argentine tango. And on through Latin America the dances went as we witnessed dances of Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Columbia.
I listened to classic Incan music as the dancers brought a tale to life. I saw scenes from the hacienda, Caribbean garb, we heard the sound of African and Indian tribal drums, and watched tap dancers float through the air. There were a couple jazzy tunes, the accompaniment of Spanish guitar, while the performers danced merengue. The legends covered the Incas, Aztecs, Maya, Spaniards and the African slaves. It was a panoply of music, color, culture and dance.
Thalia Theatre - Spanish Theatre In Sunnyside Queens
Thalia Theatre regularly performs high quality Spanish cultural performances with accomplished award winning musicians, dancers and choreographers. Angel Gil Orrios the Executive / Artistic Director of the theatre has won numerous awards. Thalia provides a discounted price Friday nights and generally hosts performances on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees, but there are exceptions. See the Queens Events calendar for details of upcoming performances as well as links to contact info and map. You'll find Thalia by clicking the link to the ‘theatre’ section.
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