Corrections or additions?
This article written by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1
Newspaper on April 21, 1999. All rights reserved.
The Route of the Gypsies
For the Alborada Spanish Dance Theater, art and education
go hand in hand. In its new show, "The Caravan Route of the Gypsies"
at Middlesex County College on Sunday April 25, the company joins
with artists from India and Egypt to chronicle the evolution of Spanish
flamenco dance across the ages and across continents.
"History has shown that the gypsies took a couple of routes from
India to Southern Spain, including one through Egypt, where they settled
for several hundred years — hence the possibility of the word
`gypsy’ being derived from the name," explains dancer and artistic
director Eva Lucena. "The gypsies’ other route was through the
Slavic countries of the Austro-Hungarian empire, especially Romania
and Hungary. When the gypsies migrated into the next country, they
took along both the movements and the sounds of their former home.
It’s a whole flow of evolution."
Dancers of the Shri Bharatha Kamalalaya academy of Somerset open the
program with a ceremony of light choreographed by Padma Bhusan Kamala
Narayanam. "Padma is acclaimed in both India and in the United
States, and when on talks of her, one lowers one’s voice in awe,"
says Lucena. Bani Ray, a renowned Odissi dancer from Delhi, continues
with a pure form Indian dance that is also a form a worship.
When Bani Ray finishes her solo, the Arabic dancer, Rayhana, comes
on stage and the pair dances an original piece they have choreographed
together. "It’s not quite fusion, it’s evolutionary," says
Lucena. "It demonstrates which movements are shared. The tabla
drummer who accompanies the dances can also play for flamenco. He
can pick up the flamenco rhythms because of the ways they are related
to Odissi rhythms."
With choreography by Alborada’s Chavela and by Rayhana and other artists,
Lucena says the collaboration has been a rewarding learning experience.
"We’re so different but we’re so similar," she says. Guest
artists from Spain are Jesus Cano and Paco Alonso, with Alborada’s
Maria La Constancia, Natalia Brilliante, Lisa Lochner, Ruselito Kordas,
Carlos Revollar, and David Castellano.
The second half of the program shows the gypsies arriving in Spain
and migrating to Andalucia. The first dance is the Zambra, a flamenco
with an Arabic heritage. The finale features three camps of gypsies
on the road to Rocios, a sacred festival in Andalucia, and each camp
visiting with the other, spontaneously dancing, culminating in the
ever-popular "Bulerias," a free-style gypsy dance.
A 400-year history illustrated in an evening is a challenge for these
artists of three world cultures. "This is pretty ambitious, yes,"
says Lucena laughing heartily. "I like to create things. Over
the years, I’ve recognized the similarities in movements and musical
forms. Flamenco footwork has a lot of percussive sounds that shares
a lot with Indian Kathak dance, and they even had a form of castanets
in India. It’s such a beautiful history, and it’s also art."
— Nicole Plett
Dance Theater , Middlesex College Performing Arts Center, 2600 Woodbridge
Road, Edison, 732-613-4519. $18. Sunday, April 25, 3 p.m.
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