Innovative Production Connects Indian and Flamenco Dance

Crossed cultures: From left, Santiago, Banerjee, Del Conte, and Charka
photo: Benjamin Briu

It's worth the trip to Queens to witness this dialogue between two traditional dance forms. The unique performance pairs members of Andrea Del Conte Danza España with two South Asian dancers in a series of provocative interactions; Chandra Banerjee, a Bharata Natyam dancer, bends into angles beneath the strong curve of Rick Santiago's arms, while Pandit Satya Narayana Charka implements narrative gestures and subtle eye movements alongside Del Conte's fluid turns and seductive flourishes. Intertwining their bodies as they do the dance styles they are mixing, the four dancers execute identical footwork combinations, pairing the clicks of nailed heels with the jingle of ankle bells. Likewise, the instrumental fusion combines the percussive sounds of the tabla (Indian drum) and cajon (percussive box) with the tranquil strumming of the mandolin and the guitar. While some scholars disagree about the historical connection between these dance forms, the stylistic similarities are undeniable on the Thalia stage.

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