Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
Compania Flamenca Edwardo Guerrero photo courtesy Lehman Center
Flamenco at Lehman Center
The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts was set ablaze by the artistry of “Eduardo Guerrero” and his Compania Flamenca dance company. The Lehman Center, located on the Lehman College campus in Bronx, New York, showcases an impressive number of national and international artists ranging from the Russian National Ballet presenting Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake to Invincible, a tribute to the late Michael Jackson: from Luther Vandross singing his top hits to the Soweto Gospel Choir honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Nelson Mandela; from the Chinese Warriors of Peking to the Ballet Folklόrico de México; all in the newly refurbished concert hall. The lighting and acoustics are top notch and the performance stage area is large enough to hold an entire dance company with room to spare.
But those are details that provide the platform from which the performer(s) can shine, and shine they do, for once the curtain rises and the audience is treated to the opening salvo all focus is on the stage. On a raised platform in the rear of the darkened stage are seated a drummer, two singers and two guitar players, while three beautiful women and two handsome men stand erect stage front in anticipation of the downbeat. All are dressed in black, an unusual color for fiery flamenco dancers. And it begins: thundering flying feet, swirling petticoats and intense raw emotion to “Las Puertas De Cadiz” a Bulerias (seduction) dance from Guerrero’s home town of Cadiz. This opening dance sets the tone for what is to come.
Again the lights dim and one spotlight focuses on the tall elegant figure of Edward Guerrero, as silently, slowly, one foot at a time, he oozes towards center stage. The music and the dance begin together, one rhythm playing off the other, faster and faster as the audience holds its collective breath in wonderment. There is a seemingly endless display of virtuosity until artist and audience alike collapse in emotional release.
Guerrero was born in the Andaluz town of Cadiz, in the heart of flamenco country. He began dancing at age 6 and over the years has danced with many of the best; learning and developing his own style of dance. Along the way he has won many prestigious awards for his tempestuous performances. His style of choreography concentrates on precise coordinated movements with dancers synchronized, more reminiscent of classical ballet, but rarely found in flamenco. This style is unique to him incorporating traditional flamenco as well as his own specific vocabulary. A total of 10 dances were performed, a few by the ensemble, two solos by Guerrero and one by him and one of the female dancers. They performed the romantic and sensuous Pas de deux “Candelaria” with such electric simpatico that it seemed they were the only two people on earth locked in a moment in time.
Then there was the flirty “Campo del sur” where the female dancers wore dresses with long trains and swirled their shawls captivatingly towards the male dancers all the while performing intricate steps and footwork.
I also liked the sensual “La Bahia” where the female dancers wore white dresses with trains and struck provocative poses with their white fans fully extended.
Watching a flamenco performance in a audience populated with Spanish people is a very special and unique experience. Members of the audience yell out encouragement and praise during the dance as is the custom, which lends an intimacy with the dancers that is absent in any other dance form.
For more on flamenco visit In search of the “Real” Flamenco detailing the history and character of this very special Spanish performance art.
Now for a word about the Lehman campus with its beautiful Gothic Revival architecture (interspersed with newer buildings of modern functional design) manicured lawns and broad walkways. On the walk toward the Concert Hall the pavement has implanted tiles with sayings and/or drawings of famous historical figures that are filled with the wisdom of the ages. If you attend a performance, plan on arriving early to leave time to pause and ponder these inspiring words. And don’t miss the stunning hanging Chinese bronze bell with its moving sentiment that commemorates cooperation between Guangzhou College in South China and Lehman Collage; or the gigantic only official replica in the U.S. of a 900 B.C. Olmec head from Mesoamerica.
Please note that the full restoration of the concert hall will not be completed until late spring of 2019. As part of the restoration project Lehman Center will have a fundraising campaign to “Take Your Seat” allowing art lovers to purchase a tax deductible seat in their name or that of a loved one. I can’t think of a more fitting support for an organization that focuses on the visual and performing arts in an affordable and welcoming venue.
For information visit www.LehmanCenter.org
© November 2018 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.