Flamenco's Traditions Continue to Linger in 'Cinco Por Cinco'
With a new program of innovative and edgy repertoire, Rebeca Tomás, brings her A Palo Seco Flamenco Company back to Theatre 80 Saint Marks from May 17 to 19, presenting a new production, "Cinco Por Cinco." Tomás, a fierce and feminine NY-based Flamenco artist, will direct her company of five dancers, two singers and three musicians in a show that promises to be true to her vision of upholding Flamenco's traditions while also pushing its boundaries and giving it a distinctive New York City feel.
The evening will feature the premier of two new choreographies. "Cinco por Cinco," the production's namesake, will feature the cast of five female dancers in a rhythmic call-and-response, each using one of five percussive elements within Flamenco: Zapateo (Footwork), Palmas (Rhythmic Hand-Clapping), El Abanico (the Spanish Fan), Castanuelas (Castanets), and el Baston (the Percussive Cane). The second piece, "La Farruca," which is a typically masculine-style of Flamenco dance, will be set as a duet for two females, clad in high-wasted pants and bolero jackets. The piece will capitalize on the linear nature of this dance style with its heel-turns and musically intricate footwork. Musical accompaniment will include guitar, violin, and a female vocalist who plays an integral role in the choreography.
More traditional offerings will include a return of Tomás' "El Martinete," rearranged for five dancers from its original form as a trio. Its choreography alternates between canonized movements and sleek synchronicity, with female dancers taking on the strength and poise of the male persona. Often referred to as "cante jondo" (deep song), the Martinete is performed "a palo seco," with stark vocals conveying the raw essence of the art form. The production will also feature conventional solos, including a Tientos-Tangos and an Alegrias de Cordoba, a more soulful version of the typically bright Alegrias de Cadiz, performed with a Bata de Cola (long train dress) and a Manton de Manila (Manila shawl).
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.
After years of freelancing as a solo dancer and company performer with such companies as Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and Noche Flamenca, Tomás began to create her own work in 2010. That year, her first production as artistic director and choreographer, "A Palo Seco," won her credit as both a performer and experimenter. Presented at Theater 80, it combined traditional Flamenco with such nontraditional touches as Tomás playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" at the piano and dancing a modern piece to music by Regina Spektor. Jack Anderson (New York Theatre Wire) praised Tomás for both her innovativeness and her strength in traditional forms, writing "Tomás is seeking to develop flamenco in new ways...Experimental new works are welcome in every dance form; otherwise, that form stagnates. Tomás and her company know their flamenco, yet they're willing to play with its conventions." Critic Eva Yaa Asantawaa insisted to readers of her blog, "InfiniteBody," that they see the performance, deeming it a major debut and calling Tomás a "well-crafted explosive device." Lindsay Miller wrote in TheaterOnline.com, "The energy of the performers in this showcase of flamenco dancing and music was infectious - at times, the sold-out crowd of 200 could not help but clap along and give encouraging shouts of 'Olé!'" The evening was summarized as "truly a feast for the eyes and the ears."
Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation.
Since its inception in 2010, A Palo Seco Flamenco Company has been gaining national recognition for its artistic vision deeply rooted in Flamenco tradition, yet relevant in a modern urban context. Over the past year, they have appeared at the 2012 Chicago Flamenco Festival along with renowned Spanish artists Raimundo and Diego Amador, at Jacob Pillow's 80th season, at the New York City Between the Seas Festival of Mediterranean Arts, and at the Multicultural Center of East Cambridge.
As a dancer, artistic director Rebeca Tomás trained in Granada at Maite Galán's Escuela de Danza Espańola and later moved to Madrid, where she studied at the internationally renowned Flamenco academy Amor de Dios. There she appeared at various tablaos, including Al Andalus and Las Carboneras. She is a two-time recipient of both the Jerome Foundation's Travel and Study Grant and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's MCAF Grant for her company productions. She also received an Artist Fellowship Grant form the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism for the development of new choreography. As a choreographer, Tomás has assisted Tony Award-winning Christopher Gatteli in the Lincoln Center production of "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," as well as for his own "Time, Place, Romance, Dance." She was choreographer and personal Flamenco trainer for Yaron Zilberman's indie-drama, "A Late Quartet" (2012), featuring Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She also served as a guest choreographer for Revolución Latina's 2011 Choreographer's Festival and choreographed the group's piece at the Broadway Cares 25th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition.
For her company productions, Tomás collaborates closely with guitarist and musical director Pedro Cortes. Gypsy by heritage, Cortes began studying with his father and the esteemed Flamenco guitarist Sabicas at an early age. Touring professionally since the age of 17, he is internationally recognized as a soloist and composer. Cortés has performed and toured with Jose Greco, Maria Benitez, la Farruquita, La Tati, Merche Esmeralda, Manolete and the late Lola Flores. He was guest artist with the St. Louis Opera and the New York Grand Opera and was commissioned by the Guthrie Theater in Garcia Lorca's Bodas de Sangre as Musical Director. He also premiered his work "En la oscuridad de las Minas" at the Teatro Albéniz in Madrid. Mr. Cortés is artistic director of his own Flamenco Fusion group, Amanecer Flamenco De Hoy, as well as Mimbre Y Vareta and Zorongo Flamenco.
The production "Cinco Por Cinco" is conceived and directed by Rebeca Tomás and performed by Tomás and her A Palo Seco Flamenco Company, which includes dancers Sol "La Argentinita," Marina Elana and Leslie Roybal. Musicians include guitarist and musical director Pedro Cortés, violinist Alí Bello, percussionist Jose Moreno and singer Bárbara Martínez. Lighting design is by Stephen Petrilli. Sound design is by Alex Neumann. Some costumes for Ms. Tomás are contributed by Sally Lesser. The company's website is www.apalosecoflamenco.com.
"Cinco Por Cinco" will be presented by A Palo Seco Flamenco Company at the Theatre 80 Saint Marks, 80 Saint Marks Place in Manhattan, from May 17 to 19, 2013, Friday and Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are $25 to $40 and are available at the Box Office 212-388-0388 or through the website: www.theatre80.org. Tickets for students and seniors are $20 with valid ID at door.
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