March 10, 2017
A white wave undulated on the stage of City Center as Patricia Guerrero simultaneously twirled her enormous blue manton (shawl), while kicking aside her white bata de cola (train). Moments later, another dancer half her size, Olga Pericet arrived in a red and white manton. Guerrero threw her skirt and shawl away from her exploding arc of her movement, while Pericet let the momentum of the shawl’s trajectory encircle her lean frame with stripes resembling a barber shop pole.
Of the five artists featured on this Flamenco Festival Gala, two made their New York debut: Guerrero, born in 1990, who trained with her mother in Granada, and singer-songwriter Rocío Márquez, born in 1985. While Guerrero brings an inexhaustible verve, Márquez was the most touching in the entire program. Never blasting the theatre with angst or anger, she sings with a strong vibrato and such control of her breath that she made us feel as though we were in an intimate cafe.
Jesus Carmona, who came with the festival to New York last year, performed a Cana, traditionally a slow heartfelt song, with his usual immaculate line, but with more of a balletic tornado than was effective. Pericet who has appeared many times in NY’s Repertorio Espanol, seems almost freakishly tiny when she dances with the ensemble. Yet, when she is alone, close to the audience, she expands. Playing her tiny castanets, occasionally rolling a shoulder and letting her head dip insouciantly, she is a complete delight. Juana Amaya, last seen in New York twelve years ago, danced with gitana urgency. She yanked off her hair clip and up her skirt to mini skirt length, faced the audience and drummed her feet as though she was dancing on a table.
Miguel Marin, the founder/producer of the Flamenco Festival now in its 17th season, stepped in front of the curtain of City Center to express his gratitude to the audience. Over the years, Marin has introduced to New York, and subsequently Washington D.C., Miami, Boston, and other cities, flamenco legends. He has alternating between bringing large companies, such as Ballet Nacional de Espana, or that of Sara Baras, with programs centered around solos.
Knowing New York as a bastion of modern dance, he has brought in the flamenco artists notorious for exploring the edge between tradition and contemporary. One of those that straddle the line are Manuel Liñan, who directed the 2017 program. Linan’s inventive touch was disappointingly absent, though he did give a spotlight to a fascinating percussionist Paco Vega.
Always an audience favorite, this year’s Flamenco Festival flew by with no intermission! Also on the program were the singers: Herminia Borja, Miguel Lavi, Jonathan Reyes, and guitarists Daniel Jurado, Victor Marquez “El Tomate” Leadership Support for Dance at City Center is provided by Harkness Foundation for Dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY Deirdre Towers