Renowned film director Carlos Saura’s Flamenco Hoy will make its U.S debut at New York City Center with 7 performances, Feb 16 – 20, 2011. With Flamenco Hoy Saura brings his cinematic genius to the stage for the first time. The show features musical direction by Flamenco jazz pianist Chano Domínguez, choreography by Rafael Estévez and Nani Paños and a cast of 20.
“Flamenco is in an amazing moment” says Carlos Saura, Spain’s legendary film director. And no one has better captured that moment than Saura. His Flamenco Trilogy (Bodas de Sangre, Carmen, El Amor Brujo) have received critical acclaim. Now, after decades of filmmaking that has inspired dancers and choreographers worldwide, the director’s first live production, Flamenco Hoy by Carlos Saura, debuts at New York City Center with 7 performances, February 16th through 20th. Flamenco Hoy de Carlos Saura captures the exciting ‘new’ music and dance form that flamenco has become, and its cast of 20 features Spain’s most exciting young talent.
Saura’s goals are definitely wide-screen: a statement on flamenco dance as it is today, a vibrant, innovative and global performing art, so culturally unique that UNESCO just added Flamenco to its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Flamenco Hoy (Flamenco Today) casts a spotlight on a dance form that has absorbed musical traditions from Peru to India; its choreographic influences range from edgy contemporary to jazz and its costumes and lighting are paradigms of modern stage design. With a film director’s eye for allegory and art, Flamenco Hoy captures the soul of 21st century Spain.
From his very first foray into films on flamenco – 1981’s Bodas del Sangre (Blood Wedding) – Saura has brought a filmmaker’s eye to the dance and music of Iberia. Using locations like an abandoned train station or a large dance studio painted white, he framed dancers in front of back-lit windows, captured them in mirrors, or silhouetted them like shadow puppets.
Saura’s elemental style influenced dance stagecraft immediately, and his films’ allegorical reflections on Spanish identity and the process of art-making continue to inspire with their sense of light and space. His newest film Flamenco, Flamenco, which makes its U.S. screen debut on January 29th as part of Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival, continues his explorations in time and light: it is set in the abandoned Pavilion of the Future from the Seville 92 Expo.
In Flamenco Hoy, we are challenged to see flamenco in a new way, with sweeps of movement, led as if by a camera. Groupings of performers convey the feel of crowd scenes. What looks like a jam-packed scene is effected by multiple images reflected in carefully placed mirrors. The choreography of Raphael Estévez and Nani Paños often captures this sense of multiplicity – the swift movements of one pair of arms in a solo makes us think we are watching a dozen.
In the ‘sound-track’ of Flamenco Hoy we hear flamenco in a new way, as well. The score includes original music by GRAMMY-nominated pianist Chano Dominguez, who is also Music Director of the show. His explorations with jazz and flamenco give the arc of the show an added layer. An initial cradlesong – Nanas – is augmented by the wail of Ernesto Aurignac’s saxophone. Old forms like sevillanas are presented without traditional vocals, as musicians speak or shout the lyrics. Interwoven with familiar sounds of flamenco guitar and percussion, we hear piano, saxophone and cello .
Flamenco Hoy’s choreographic team Raphael Estévez and Nani Paños launched their company (Dospormedio y Compañía) as a response to a landscape they saw crowded with superficial fusions. “They confuse art with fashion,” Estévez told flamenco-world.com in a recent interview. “But when something is good, it doesn’t go out of fashion.”
Joining Estévez and Paños on stage is an exciting new generation of dancers. Some, like the phenomenal Pastora Galván, one of five soloists in the show, belong to distinguished Gitano (Gypsy) lineages but they also have rigorous training in ballet and modern dance. Arms and hands still carve through the space around a dancer, but the designs they make are often derived from contemporary and jazz dance.
Flamenco composers today have learned their flamenco at their parents’ knees; they have also studied western classical music, jazz, African rhythms and Latin American folk. Chano Dominguez, the musical director and composer for Flamenco Hoy, is an accomplished pianist whose fame goes beyond the world of flamenco. He has composed for and performed with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra and collaborated with Paquito D’Rivera in the 2009 CD release, Quartier Latin.
In one of his latest films, Iberia (2005), Carlos Saura looked at flamenco as the Spanish (rather than just ‘Andalusian’) dance form that flamenco is today. It is this expanded and dynamic view of flamenco that will make its U.S. debut at New York City Center in February.
His filmmaker’s eye will be apparent everywhere: costume and stage design, sense of light and space, time and motion. It will also be there in his choice of a young choreographic team whose work rises above the usual battle lines in flamenco dance. And it will be heard in a musical score that is both uniquely Spanish and global.
Wednesday, Feb 16 at 8pm
Thursday, Feb 17 at 8pm
Friday, Feb 18 at 8pm
Saturday, Feb 19 – two shows! – 2pm and 8pm
Sunday Feb 20 – two shows! – 2pm and 7pm
NEW YORK CITY CENTER
West 55th St between 6th & 7th Aves New York, NY
$35, $45, $65, $85
World Music Institute members: $30, $40, $60, $80