IMPRESSIONS: Patricia Guerrero's "Flash Mob" at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden — Flamenco Festival
March 12, 2020
Dancers: Patricia Guerrero, Nélida Tirado and NYC friends
Music: Marina Heredia
As New York City companies, schools, and theaters slammed their doors to COVID-19, an electric young dancer from Spain, Patricia Guerrero, opened and closed the Flamenco Festival at the Winter Garden atrium with a flash mob.
Ballet Hispanico Academia’s stellar students and dancers of all ages swept their arms across their torso down and up, their hands bursting from fists to splayed hands at the crest of the wave. Grounded like trees with interconnecting roots, approximately 50 women and two or three men danced the sultry Tangos de la Penca, sung by Marina Heredia, choreographed by Guerrero’s mother MariCarmen, who runs a flamenco academy in Albayzín, Granada. Since the choreography was only three minutes, the dancers in polka dot skirts and flowers in their hair, repeated the dance three times, each time juicier and more heartfelt.
Following the flash mob, Festival Producer Miguel Marin expressed his relief that this community event could commemorate the 20th anniversary of the festival that was to include 30 companies performing 53 shows in 20 spaces. Themed as “Breaking Walls, Uniting Worlds,” it would have been the largest presented outside Spain. Marin trained at New York University in arts administration and cut his teeth revamping Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana in New York before initiating his festival in Spain. He closed his remarks with palmas, hand-clapping, to spur Guerrero to improvise to his beat.
Nélida Tirado — a New Yorker who trained at Ballet Hispanico and was a soloist/dance captain with Compania Maria Pages and Compania Antonio El Pipa — performed a mesmerizing solo. Dressed in a long, black velvet dress adorned with a gold manton (long fringed shawl), Tirado gave us a silent meditation, as powerful as a sermon, her arms slowly rising, her fierce, feminine energy rippling out over the city. The vastness of the atrium swallowed the sound of her footwork. On the small stage, under the palm trees, she often faced the two singers and guitarist to strengthen their connection.
Tirado invited friends to join her on stage for the fin de fiesta. Aurora Reyes of Flamenco Latino was the first one out to celebrate. Having devoted her adult life to flamenco, Reyes milks the comic potential of Bulerías, the fast, sassy form counted in 12 that’s traditionally performed at parties. She plays against any expectations for wild, flashy footwork by rounding her back in an endearing waddle. With her shoulders rolling, fingers pointing, she never fails to make us laugh.