Town and Country


The nine members of Noche Flamenca (New Victory Theater, through June 16) and artistic director Martin Santangelo strip flamenco to its essence, bringing a bare stage to life with the strumming of a guitar, the rasp of a shoe, the sudden burst of an Olé! When Soledad Barrio dances a solea, her mere presence rouses the audience. The concentrated pain and loneliness evident in her face reveals a vulnerable soul. Yet she does not succumb to the stirrings inside or to the lamenting cries of Antonio Vizarraga, who sings about a sadness that pervades “noche y día.” Her entire body embraces each feeling, releasing it through rapid-fire footwork that gets faster and more powerful with each refined turn, arched back-bend, and passionate stamp. The fire inherent in flamenco possesses Barrio until she herself must make peace with her reality, finally leaving the stage with her head held high. It is this fierceness that makes Spain’s traditional Gypsy dancing and music a cathartic experience. At the New Victory, which caters to kids and the parents who want to culture them, even the younger viewers try to grapple with it.

Dancers Noe Barroso and Alejandra Zaballos take their alegrías to another level. The real-life couple argue; incapable of looking at each other, they somehow can’t stay away—she, proud as a peacock, shakes her tail at him, while he, indignant, circles her in disbelief. They challenge each other, snapping their fingers and thrusting backward on their heels. When their anger melds into desire they collide, and their bodies move in unison. The guitars instinctively switch the pace from intense to joyous.

The emotional range is more specific for Bruno Argenta, whose seriousness is rivaled only by Barrio’s. His sophisticated farruca delivers a jolt of flash to the performance. The graceful dancer whips around, feet rapidly tapping, his long, lean body unrestrained as beads of sweat fly off his face. Guitarists Miguel Perez Garcia and Jesus Torres keep up with masterly speed and panache, transporting us directly from 42nd Street to the sidewalks of Seville. —Grace Bastidas

“When in town,” British choreographer Frederick Ashton wrote, “I am constantly longing for the country, never having been put to the test of a really prolonged stay.” Ashton’s 1960 La Fille mal gardée, which joined the American Ballet Theatre repertory May 31 at the Metropolitan Opera House, is an English fantasy of French country life, and the perfect vehicle to take New Yorkers both back in time and overseas, to a farm in an 18th-century summer. This endlessly delightful work, inflected with more than a beam of Bournonville sunniness, transpires practically in real time, on one day during the harvest.

Staged for ABT by Alexander Grant, Christopher Carr, and Grant Coyle of London’s Royal Ballet, Fille focuses on young Lise, in love with a farmer, who outwits her vigilant mother and gets to keep her beau. They live in a village where everyone is always dancing, where ribbons betoken romance, hay is gathered (and dances arranged) with scythes, and the ardent Colas (performed the night I went by Carlos Acosta) stands by his gal (Nina Ananiashvili) even when he catches her fantasizing about spanking their babies.

Clog dances, sword dances, maypole dances, and other formations more native to the English countryside than to France dot this affectionate pastorale. (The chicken quintet, it can be safely said, is at least binational.) Ballet Theatre’s good corps renders them all affectionately. Acosta’s generous tour jetées ate up the stage, indicating Colas’s sunny and expansive personality. Guillaume Graffin was suitably blustery in the travesty role of the Widow Simone. Carlos Lopez, a dorky pest as the immature suitor Alain, loses the girl but remembers his umbrella; though he’s peripheral to the main action of the story, he manages to close every scene. Acosta, partnering Paloma Herrera, will swashbuckle through Le Corsaire June 17 and 20—your last chance this season to see the troupe’s new Cuban danseur. —Elizabeth Zimmer

Beverly Brown, longtime leading member of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, died of a stroke last month at 61. She taught dance and composed music, as well as producing a seminal monograph on Hawkins and experimenting with sound in her own choreography and for the Siddha Yoga community. Remember her June 22 at 3 p.m. at the Broome Corner Studio, 425 Broome Street, fourth floor. —E.Z.

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