“Made In USA,” Spun In New Haven
by Brandi Fullwood | Oct 25, 2012 12:18 pm
Flamenco is known for breaking boundaries—and it knocked out a crowd at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School.
The occasion was “Flamenco: Made in USA,” organized and choreographed by Melinda Marquez, a New York-trained Flamenco dancer who opened a New Haven studio in 2006.
Marquez (pictured above), who has taught for over 35 years and describes her approach as “trying to find a way to break boundaries,” brought her local students together with out-of-town dancers for the mesmerizing performance, which took place last Friday night. She dedicated the show to her mentor, Roberto Lorca.
The largest piece, “Flamenco Women/ A Timeline,” presented the history of Flamenco dancers since the 1960s. The performers evoked a mixture of joy, freedom, passion, and anger. A great deal of what is “normal” was repeatedly stamped out with a clap of the hands, tap of the foot or even the twirl of the hips.
“Flamenco is an art form of defiance,” remarked composer and guitarist Espiritu Gitano. “It was created amongst outcasts, unique ones: Hindu, Christians, Muslims, all since its beginnings. It’s the happy dance of the outcasts from the South of Spain. They dance their very passions, which makes flamenco and art of defiance”
Marquez initially trained as a classical ballet dancer. Then Lorca, a virtuoso, lured her to the path of Flamenco.
“He said I was perfectly capable of dancing Flamenco…that’s what I must do, pass on everything that he gave me, share my knowledge the best way that I know how”
“I’m always learning in the process that every step of the way, I need to keep growing myself,” Marquez said. She said the most difficult part about learning to instruct people in flamenco was making sure that she taught what she knew and not what she assumed.
Afterward the performance hugs and congratulatory thanks abounded for the dancers and musicians.
“I would definitely come back again, the dancers had such a great energy and passion during the entire performance” said audience member Neeta Maniara.
Brandi Fullwood, a Hillhosue High School senior, is an Independent intern.
[Note: The 7:44 video that originally appeared with this story was removed at the request of Marquez, who called it a copyright violation of her work.]
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