A tale of two venues

JUAN SIDDI FLA­MENCO SANTA FE TAKES CEN­TER STAGE

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Juan Siddi Fla­menco Santa Fe

Juan Siddi Fla­menco Santa Fe is step­ping into the na­tional spot­light this spring and sum­mer with sev­eral im­por­tant en­gage­ments. Af­ter con­certs in Cal­i­for­nia and Hawaii open­ing its tour­ing sea­son, some in­ten­sive re­hearsal time in Santa Fe, and a show this week­end at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, the group is head­ing East for its first per­for­mances at the Joyce The­ater in New York and the Ja­cob’s Pil­low Dance Fes­ti­val in the Berk­shires — both high-pro­file, high­stakes en­gage­ments.

Three years ago, Siddi was run­ning the show all by him­self, with a pickup com­pany of dancers and mu­si­cians from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and back­grounds and a sum­mer gig at a bar-restau­rant in Santa Fe. They per­formed six nights a week at the María Benítez Cabaret The­ater at The Lodge in town, in a Benítez-sanc­tioned pass­ing of the guard. Then Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let came knock­ing with an un­usual propo­si­tion. Now, as the first fla­menco com­pany in the U.S. to be man­aged by a bal­let com­pany, the en­sem­ble is be­ing looked at dif­fer­ently — by afi­ciona­dos and other fla­menco groups, no doubt, but es­pe­cially by pro­gram­mers.

The Joyce The­ater, a 472-seat house, is a dance-only venue ded­i­cated to show­ing the va­ri­ety that ex­ists in the art form. In March it is host­ing en­gage­ments with the Stephen Petro­nio Com­pany, a mod­ern-dance group, the Hong Kong Bal­let, the Penn­syl­va­nia Bal­let, and from March 22 to March 27, Juan Siddi Fla­menco Santa Fe. Martin Wech­sler has a dance lover’s dream job — he’s the di­rec­tor of pro­gram­ming at the Joyce. He re­mem­bers see­ing Siddi danc­ing on that stage, part­ner­ing Maria Benítez, at her farewell per­for­mance years ago. “Maria per­formed at the Joyce for many, many years,” he said. “I liked the idea of bring­ing some­one here who was a con­tin­u­a­tion of our long re­la­tion­ship with her. She was an amaz­ing per­former. Her com­pany was great. Fla­menco is of­ten bro­ken into sub­cat­e­gories, and María Benítez was fla­menco

puro — emo­tional, the­atri­cal. I went to see Juan Siddi’s group per­form in Santa Fe, and it had that same qual­ity of the­atri­cal­ity. It was a ter­rific show. I also liked the choice of mu­sic. He used un­usual in­stru­men­ta­tion — a cello, a pi­ano, and flutes as ac­com­pa­ni­ment. It was unique and very won­der­ful.”

It prob­a­bly also didn’t hurt Siddi’s chances of get­ting a book­ing at the Joyce that Wech­sler has been pre­sent­ing Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let since 2003 and knows the di­rec­tors, Jean-Philippe Malaty and Tom Moss­brucker, well. “I was in­trigued when I heard they had taken on the man­age­ment of a fla­menco com­pany,” he said. “Non­profit arts groups are al­ways look­ing for ways to in­no­vate. I thought it was a very clever idea for them to take on more man­age­ment. The fact they have the re­sources to take on the added re­spon­si­bil­ity for an­other com­pany is im­pres­sive. Both Juan Siddi’s group and Aspen Santa Fe are high- qual­ity cham­ber-sized groups. Their scales are sim­i­lar, but they have very dif­fer­ent styles.”

Ja­cob’s Pil­low, in Becket, Mas­sachusetts, is the ru­ral dance haven founded by Ted Shawn in 1930, not far from Tan­gle­wood, the sum­mer home of the Bos­ton Sym­phony Or­ches­tra. From June to Au­gust,

I want to keep adding new pieces to the reper­tory. I want to bring in guest dancers — big, renowned Span­ish dancers. I want to take them on tour. — Juan Siddi

a di­verse cast of dancers takes to the two stages at the Pil­low: The sea­son in­cludes a group spe­cial­iz­ing in the per­cus­sive sounds and foot­work of the South Amer­i­can gau­cho; a con­tem­po­rary com­pany from Ger­many; Brook­lyn street dancers; and sev­eral bal­let com­pa­nies. How­ever, from June 22 to June 26, it’s all about Santa Fe. Dur­ing that week, Juan Siddi and com­pany will per­form in the smaller venue, the Doris Duke Theatre, while Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let per­forms in the Ted Shawn Theatre, also known as the Barn.

Speak­ing to him from Maui, where the com­pany was per­form­ing, Siddi was mod­est and grounded about the up­com­ing chal­lenges. “A lot of us have been work­ing to­gether for six or seven years,” he said. “We’re ready for the big time. We’re get­ting used to big venues. Hilo, Hawaii, had a 1,200-seat the­ater. It was sold out. We use light­ing ef­fects to make it more in­ti­mate, like The Lodge. We move the mu­si­cians for­ward and don’t use the whole stage. The light­ing ef­fects cre­ate in­ti­macy. We have a sound de­signer who trav­els with us to make sure that they can hear our foot­work, no mat­ter how big the the­ater.

“We’re get­ting pretty or­ga­nized. Each in­di­vid­ual dancer has seven cos­tumes. That’s a lot to carry around. We keep get­ting stronger. I’m think­ing about a new group piece.” Siddi said he wants to bend and play with the tra­di­tion of the solea — usu­ally a dra­matic, emo­tional solo — and turn it into an en­sem­ble piece. “Like the bal­let com­pany, I want to keep adding new pieces to the reper­tory. I want to bring in guest dancers — big, renowned Span­ish dancers. I want to take them on tour.”

“I’ve known Juan since I was fif­teen years old,” said Radha Gar­cia, one of the group’s dancers, who also picks up her vi­olin dur­ing cer­tain pieces to join the mu­si­cians. “I’ve per­formed with the com­pany for five sea­sons. It’s in­cred­i­ble for us to have this op­por­tu­nity. We’re ready to take the next step. Just to have the light­ing de­signer from Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let is in­cred­i­ble. The whole per­for­mance is more the­atri­cal. We don’t re­hearse through­out the year like the bal­let com­pany. A lot of us study in Spain. I just got back from Sevilla and Madrid. I love go­ing back to the cra­dle of fla­menco.

“My friends in New York are ex­cited to come and see how the com­pany has grown. We’re a fam­ily now. Get­ting picked up by the Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let has al­lowed Juan to por­tray his artis­tic vi­sion like never be­fore.”

Juan Siddi

Juan Siddi Fla­menco Santa Fe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.