"Beautiful, isn't it? What do you think about the bagpipes?" Andrea Del Conte, flamenco dancer and artistic director of Andrea Del Conte Danza España (performing this weekend and next at Lotus Music and Dance Studios in Chelsea), turns up the volume on her stereo. "It's from northern Spain." She pulls her thick black hair into a ponytail and sways to the soulful music.
At Lotus, Del Conte will present a solo retrospective of the past 10 years. "I have material for 50 retrospectives," she says. "I wanted to showcase varied choreography and different rhythmic styles." In Lotus's Studio Btransformed into a salonshe'll improvise her way through five distinct numbers, from the dramatic and sorrowful Tarantos to Asturias, a duet with a guitarist that highlights her virtuosity with castanets. "It's a risky proposition to improvise. You have to be in the right mind-set. But it puts the dancer and the audience in the moment." She'll also premiere a lyrical flamenco-modern-jazz piece: "Contemporary flamenco choreography is heading in the direction of fusion numbers."
For more than 25 years, she has taught ballet, jazz, and flamenco all over New York State, most recently at Lotus. "My students have become a palette," she says. "They are valuable to me in experimenting with aggressive styles, rhythms, and movement. I want to keep my choreography alive; I want to give it my students."
Del Conte began her career at the Mercury Ballet in Rochester. She studied flamenco in Madrid and earned her B.A. in Spanish at Nazareth College. After several trips between New York City and Spain, perfecting her technique, she performed with the companies of Maria Alba and Estrella Morena, and at the New York City Opera. In 1979, having completed the requirements for an M.A. in Spanish literature from NYU, she founded her own dance company. Recently she's been performing at Taperia Madrid, an Upper East Side tapas bar.
"Dance is always changing; you can never stop learning," she says. "I love watching my young dancers. And teaching them keeps me human, humble, and technically sound."
For complete schedule information, see the dance listings. For reservations, call 212-627-1076.
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