Reviewed by Trudy Garfunkel

A just-opened multimedia exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is a love letter to flamenco in the Big Apple. It features over 150 historical and contemporary prints, photographs, performance programs, album covers, newspaper and magazine articles, books, costumes and performance regalia, oral histories, music, and rarely seen film and video clips chronicling the artistic and personal lives of Spanish dancers who came to New York and the art form they embraced and changed. The exhibit, a collaboration between the LPA and Flamenco Vivo, one of the country's premier flamenco and Spanish dance companies, and its Artistic Director Carlotta Santana, will be on display at the Library's Shelby Cullom Davis Museum, Vincent Astor Gallery until August 3, 2013. It is free and open to the public during Library hours. 100 YEARS OF FLAMENCO IN NEW YORK, the first flamenco exhibition curated in the United States, is part of Flamenco Vivo's projects celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The exhibit highlights the impact of gifted immigrants and their contributions to New York City's cultural heritage, a rich history that has pushed the flamenco forward and has had a profound influence on dance styles from ballet to tap to modern.

Flamenco, the iconic, highly expressive and passionate Spanish art form, consists of three interwoven aspects: song or cante, guitar music or guitarra, and dance or baile. Its origins go back hundreds of years with roots commonly traced to the Roma or Gypsies who arrived in southern Spain in the 1400s, bringing with them their distinctive style of song and dance, in addition to their musical instruments, including the tambourine and wooden castanets. Once settled in Spain, the Roma came in contact with other cultures already there: the indigenous Andalusian population; the descendants of the Moors (North African Muslims); and the Sephardic Jews. The Roma absorbed and transmuted the music and dance of these other groups into what is now known as flamenco, an amalgam born from marginalized cultures that in 2010 was declared by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Spanish dancers began performing in American theaters in the 1830s and '40s. By the 1850s, Spanish dance had become an enduring staple on New York stages and in the city's music halls. 100 YEARS OF FLAMENCO IN NEW YORK traces the influx and influence of Spanish dancers and dance in New York City from the early 19th century to today. Some highlights of the exhibit include: rare 1894 footage of Carmencita, "the Pearl of Saville," the first dancer to be filmed by Edison's Vitascope; photos of La Argentina, Spain's first modernist choreographer and dancer who, in 1928, brought to NY the first full-length work of Spanish dance-theater that the city had ever seen ("El Amor Brujo"); performance and studio photos of flamenco stars of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, including Carmen Amayo, Vincente Escudero, José Greco (one of his costume's is also on display), and Antonio Gades. Contemporary artists and teachers represented include José Molina, Luis Montero, Antonia Martinez, Nelida Tirado, and Carlotta Santana, among others.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Library will host a number of free flamenco performances, film screenings, panels and educational programs throughout the spring to be held in the Library's Bruno Walter Auditorium (See schedule below).

Performance, Lecture and Film Schedule


Thursday, March 28th, 6 p.m.: "The Dance, The Music, The Song" Noted flamencologist Sir Brook Zern talks with K. Meira Goldberg and Nina Bennahum.

Monday, April 15, 6 p.m.: "A Bow to the Americans as Producers, Artists, and Educators" Exhibition curator Deirdre Towers moderates a panel discussion.


Saturday, March 30th, 2:30 pm.: "Flamenco Vivo Carlotta Santana Ensemble" A diverse and colorful performance showcasing flamenco's rich culture.


Thursday, May 9th, 6:00 p.m.: "Queen of the Gypsies" A screening of Jocelyn Ajami's film, featuring Carman Amaya. A discussion with La Meira and Ms. Ajami will follow.

Film Series (All on Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m.)

April 2nd: "Flamenco" directed by Carlos Saura, 1995 (100 minutes)

April 9th: "El Amor Brujo" directed by Carlos Saura, 1986 (98 minutes)

"Sabicas, Maestro de Flamenco" director unknown, 1966-69 (37 minutes)

April 16th: "Carmen" directed by Carlos Saura, 1983 (103 minutes)

"Flamenco at 5:15" directed by Cynthia Scott, 1983 (30 minutes)

April 23rd: "Blood Wedding" directed by Carlos Saura, 1981 (72 minutes)

"Concerto Flamenco" directed by Maurice Amar, 1964 (10 minutes)

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center


Exhibition Hours: Monday/Thursday: Noon to 8 p.m.; Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday: noon to 6 p.m. Closed on Sunday.

Free first come, first served admission to all exhibits and programs.


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Barnett Serchuk Writer/Interviewer--Broadwayworld Dance.