100 Years of Flamenco in New York City: NYPL Exhibit

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Following a post I saw online about the "100 Years of Flamenco in NYC" exhibition at the New York Public Library (NYPL) for the Performing Arts, Mom and I traveled down to the Lincoln Center area of the Upper West Side to view it.

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As a teenager, my mother took dance lessons at the Ballet Hispanico in Manhattan.  It was there that she discovered and fell in love with flamenco dancing---it has always been her favorite form of dance.  So, it was only fitting that we would go to see it.

The exhibition is the first of its kind to be curated in the United States.  It featured video footage and engravings and photographs of Spanish dance performances and venues in New York City and in Spain.  Also on display were actual costume pieces, castanets and regalia worn by legendary flamenco performers.

The exhibit was also interactive with several displays of rare documentary films and video footage which told the history of Flamenco dance and its place in New York City history.

Flamenco dance and music came from the Andalusian region of Spain and is influenced by a mixture of Arabic, Judaic, Gypsy, Castilian, and African cultures.  It was first brought over to New York City in 1830 when Spanish dancers began touring through Europe and the Americas.  By the early 1900s, their most famous dancers had become international stars.  Proper homage was given to the legends La Argentina, La Argentinita and her sister Pilar Lopez; La Meri and Carmen Amaya Miranda (my personal favorite!); Vicente Escudero, Jose Greco, Antonio Gades, Roberto Ximenez, and Mario Maya.

Carmen Amaya

Carmen Amaya

Carmen Amaya in traditional male flamenco dance costume.

Carmen Amaya in traditional male flamenco dance costume.

The exhibition was so extensive and so inspiring and informational that Mom and I went back for a second review.  We felt that the first time around we didn't have nearly enough time to explore the exhibit fully and we wanted to watch all of the mini-documentaries in completion.

Seeing an exhibit like this makes me want to learn so much more.  It opens my eyes to another slice of history, another cultural region and yet another division of the art world.  It also made me love NYC even more than I care to admit (there goes my love-hate relationship again!) and appreciate it for the cultural mecca it has always been.

For more about these exhibits, go here and here.

Long live Flamenco!

Naj