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La Conja/Mimbre Y Vareta.

As world cultures continue to collide, the carping cry "But is it authentic?" becomes increasingly irrelevant, and intriguing fusion sometimes emerges. Dancer-singer La Conja is herself a cultural fusion: an American-born flamenco artist of Egyptian parents with a Turkish surname, Abdessalam. In a long, varied recital of dance and music by her troupe, Mimbre y Vareta ("twigs and branches"), she and her longtime collaborator, guitarist-composer stretch the boundaries of this traditional Spanish form.

Her solo, Tangos Arabe, begins with Middle Eastern--inspired music. Violin, flute, guitars, and drums accompany her rich, throaty singing and undulating (in a style we'd call belly dance, were her feet and midriff naked); then, Cortes's lightning-fast footwork. Her performance radiates the assurance of experience and genuine love of her discipline. The stylistic blending highlights not only similarities between the two cultures--without diminishing either--but also shows how a fine performer's humanity transcends mere steps.

By contrast, in his solo, Galeras, brash young Spaniard Miguel Canas, a guest dancer making his debut with the company, He grimaces to draw attention to his virtuosity, and hasn't yet learned how to modulate phrasing to sustain continuity through the abrupt pauses that follow sizzling emotional bursts. Since you're never sure which climax is the last, you're applauded out when the real ending finally arrives.

An augmented musical ensemble adds color to the emotions of Clarita Filgueiras's solo, Luna. The complexity of the sound diverts our focus from the rhythms of her crisp foot-stamping to her sinuously arching spine, subtly mobile face, and liquid hands, fluttering like hummingbirds around her. A major musical asset is the remarkable Manolo Segura, whose fervent singing starts in his toes and rocks the rafters. The concert is interspersed with musical selections by a sterling ensemble: Rex Benincasa, percussion; Jason McGuire, guitar; Jack Bashkow, woodwinds; Natalia Konstantinou (La Rusa), violin; and Sean Kupisz, bass. The closing work, Soniquete (Bulerias), fuses flamenco improvisation with that of American jazz in a hot flamenco jam session.
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Title Annotation:Pace Downtown Theater, New York, NY
Author:Solomons, Gus
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Apr 1, 1996
Words:326
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