Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
September 30, 1998. All rights reserved.
Four-Day Hispanic Feast
The marvels and mysteries of Spanish arts and culture
suffuse Princeton during the "Festival de Arte y Cultura
a four-day celebration of the art, literature, and culture of Spain
and Latin America, Thursday, October 1, though Sunday, October 4.
"This is our first Hispanic festival and the first four-day
we’ve ever tackled," says Anne Reeves, executive director of the
Arts Council. "It is a big undertaking and a real challenge."
Proceeds from the festival that encompasses a literary reading by
some of the nation’s best-known authors, a bilingual children’s
event, and a Patron’s Gala Dinner and Auction benefit the council’s
"Our purpose is to acquaint the Princeton community with the rich
cultural heritage of the new members of our community, particularly
our Mexican and Guatemalan neighbors," says Reeves. "It was
a natural to bring people together to enjoy the arts of Spain and
One of the undisputed highlights of the festival is the performance
of the Carlota Santana Spanish Dance Company that brings an evening
of traditional flamenco to Richardson Auditorium, Friday, October
2, at 7:30 p.m. The company will present a traditional festival
of flamenco dances, performed by Santana and an ensemble of five that
features singer Manolo Segura and guitarist Roberto Castellon.
Speaking from her New York home, Santana says that a fluid give and
take between audience and performers is at the heart of the flamenco
"Flamenco is choreographed with stops, and in these stops one
is allowed to applaud — it makes the dancer feel that much better.
You can scream out `Ole’ during a number, you’re allowed to do that
also," she says. "It’s the very opposite of classical
American jazz is a closer match, where soloists receive applause and
encouragement from their listeners.
The program includes Santana’s favorite solo, "Tangos de
which she describes as a slow, teasing dance that stretches like
accompanied by the voice of Malaga native, Segura.
"The solo is a combination of things I’ve pulled together over
the years," says Santana. "Flamenco is always evolving. You
take from people, it goes through you, and it becomes your own. Most
of us have a dance which — for whatever reason — means
special. I danced Soleares for a number of years, then I came into
these tangos. It’s a serious dance — and playful at times. It
depends on one’s feeling that evening. The singing is what drives
you. The moods overtake you."
Flamenco emerged from southern Spain at the end of the
15th century, a time when Gypsies, Arabs, and Jews mingled in the
region. These displaced and persecuted peoples poured their emotions
into a music and dance that became flamenco. The form is distinguished
by a regal carriage of head, torso, and arms, and a fierce projection
of pride and sensuality. The traditional costumes, in all their
splendor, are cut to accentuate key areas of the dancer’s anatomy
and heighten the sensuality of the dance.
The dance boom of the 1970s helped flamenco grow by leaps and bounds.
No longer solely the province of its hereditary practitioners, new
dancers came to the art with extensive professional training in
modern, and jazz dance. Thus it was only natural that new movement
and choreographic ideas were injected into the flamenco lexicon.
Spanish dancer Antonio Gades is credited with taking flamenco into
the realm of contemporary performing arts when he teamed up with film
director Carlos Saura for acclaimed screen adaptations of Lorca’s
"Blood Wedding" and Bizet’s "Carmen."
"There seems to be a great big yearning today to see more and
more flamenco," says Santana. "I have no idea, to be honest,
what it is about. Perhaps people are looking for art that is more
earthy. Flamenco is pure emotion — something people can relate
The second half of the concert is staged as a traditional Tablao
"All the artists sit in a semi-circle, and one after another they
rise to do their solo in a competitive atmosphere — it’s a
competition," says Santana. The program closes with the
Bulerias (the names comes from the verb "burlar," to make
fun of), fun steps that the whole company does together.
Born in New York, Santana studied a variety of dance forms but Spanish
dance was the first that hooked her. "Flamenco is a disease; once
it bites you, that’s it," she says. "I had to leave New York
and go to Spain to train." She studied and worked in Madrid and
Seville during the late ’70s and early ’80s, and still returns at
least once each year. "You have to go back to the fountain of
the art. You have to return to the culture to get reunited with its
spirit," she says.
Santana established her troupe and school in New York, in 1983, with
the mission of making flamenco more accessible, breaking boundaries
between cultures using flamenco’s universal spirit. Since then, her
company has become one of the most respected flamenco groups in the
Santana believes that flamenco is one of the most difficult dance
forms to master. "You learn steps, arm movements, and foot
and then you have the rhythms — like jazz rhythms — to which
you must move the body at the same time. My first teacher told me
she thought it took seven years to learn flamenco. It certainly takes
four or five before you can even get on the stage as a member of the
corps. And nobody ever stops acquiring technique.
"This is a dance form where you don’t have to stop when you’re
30 — we go on forever," she says. "It’s so much an art
of expression. The more life experience, the better you can express
— Nicole Plett
Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, 609-924-8777. $12 to
$25. Friday, October 2, 7:30 p.m.
Princeton , WPA Gallery, 102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8777.
of Guatemalen weavings by Armando Sosa and oil paintings by Tomas
Clusellas. Free. Thursday, October 1, 6:30 p.m.
Theater. An anthology reading by Robert Bly, Richard Ford, Francisco
Goldman, Daniel Halpern, Rose Styron and Eliot Weinberger. Free.
October 1, 8 p.m.
wines, with auction, in Mediterra’s tented courtyard. $200 and up.
Friday, October 2, 7:30 p.m.
Gillet Griffin gives an illustrated talk at 11 a.m. Jonathan Brown
of New York University gives a lecture on "Spanish Art of the
Golden Age" at 1 p.m. Free. Saturday, October 3, 11 a.m. &1
and brandies by Wines From Spain, with cigar tasting by George
of Cigar Aficionado magazine. $65. Saturday, October 3, 8 p.m.
of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf is read in Spanish and English. Free.
Sunday, October 4, 12:30 p.m.
comedy by Cuba’s Tomas Gutierrez Alea, with reception and lecture
by Silvia Hirsch and Peter Johnson. $15. Sunday, October 4, 3:30
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