Home Art & Culture Review: Radiant Artists, With a Percussive Bond

Review: Radiant Artists, With a Percussive Bond

by YAR

If you’re familiar with percussion dance trio Soles of Duende, the title of their latest show, “Can We Dance Here?”, answers itself long before your feet hit the stage: Yes..

It’s an ironic question from three bold and radiant artists—tap dancer Amanda Castro, Indian classical Kathak dancer Brinda Guha, and flamenco dancer Arielle Rosales—who have finished asking permission, whose work proudly and generously takes up space. .

Thursday at the Gibney Center in Manhattan, they were joined by musicians Raaginder, Okai Musik and Ryan Stanbury for the premiere of “Can We Dance Here?”, part of Gibney’s Spotlight series, which supports budding artists. By the end of the fast-paced hour-long show, with the packed house clamoring for more, it was clear this team is ready for an even bigger spotlight. “Can we dance here?” it is a treasure and a triumph.

If the dancers ask permission from anyone, or anything, it is to the ground, which they treat with reverence, sometimes kneeling to touch it before drawing rhythms from its surface. At their most intense, they seem to draw energy from deep within the earth. Although their dance forms, like the rigorous forms of music, come from different cultural lineages, they share this regard for the floor and the feet as a conduit to something greater than themselves.

The members of Soles, who describe themselves as Puerto Ricans born in Brooklyn and raised in Connecticut (Castro), Mexican Puerto Rican Jews from the Lower East Side (Rosales) and Bengali Indians from New Jersey (Guha), began collaborating in 2016. While each has room to revel in the details of their tradition, “Can we dance here?” he is notable for how he brings his styles to heartfelt, unforced conversation. This fluidity—which extends to the musicians, who nonchalantly complement the footwork of women on violin, trumpet, piano, and percussion—seems to spring from their relationships as people, as friends. You feel like you really know and appreciate each other.

The show begins not with the feet, but with the voice, the dancers standing in a close-knit triangular formation to which they often return, vocalizing steps in their own dance lingo. His dialogue becomes more complex as instrumental music comes into play, overlaid with the sounds of his shoes (or, in Guha’s case, bare feet below bell-covered ankles), pounding, and drumming on the floor. , fitting into a rhythmic harmony. The duets and trios also reveal striking convergences in the upper body, particularly between the curvaceous arms and tendrils of Kathak and flamenco.

“Can we dance here?” emphasizes the collective, but each dancer also shines on her own. At first, Guha makes the audience make noise with her, through the magnetism of her soulful gaze and imploring applause from her. In the second half, Rosales dons a simple ruffled skirt to deliver a majestic and sensual flamenco solo; at a later point, her rapid stomping shakes the theater.

An unassuming star wherever he goes (lately he has been featured in works by Ayodele Casel and Dormeshia), Castro captures our attention with his warmth, conviction and in-the-moment precision, whether mimicking a tap-infused game of Double Dutch or handling a locker room malfunction. (When a belt started to fall off his fabulous white jumpsuit, he simply ripped it off and tossed it aside.)

Together they live up to their name. The program notes include a passage from Federico García Lorca’s “Theory and Game of the Duende”. The duende, a kind of creative force or spirit, “is not a matter of skill,” he writes, “but of a style that is really alive: that is, it is in the veins: that is, it is from the most ancient culture of immediate creation. .”

These dancers have it and I hope they have the opportunity to share it with many more people.

Suns of Duende

Through Saturday at Gibney Dance Center, Manhattan; live broadcast on Friday; www.gibneydance.org.

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