Spain in New York: Confessions of a Flamenco Fanatic

Flamenco

We all know that New York is the city that never sleeps, but it’s more than that. It can morph into any country from around the world at any moment, making it the ultimate shape shifter. I recently asked New York to become Spain, as Spanish culture is my catnip. Last weekend, I went to a flamenco show by Alegrías en la Nacional near the Meatpacking District. Flamenco pulls people on a moody and mysterious journey through love, anger, attraction, and defiance. It ignites something in the deepest part of me. 

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As I settled into our table (right in front!) and sipped on some (authentic!) sangria, the guitar began strumming and I was a goner. Dancers stomped furiously, their bodies jerking and strutting while their faces glowered and snarled. The intensity was hypnotic. Next time you’re in New York on a Saturday night, please consider supporting Jorge Navarro and his team in this fierce contribution to the flamenco movement. Tickets cost $20.

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My next stop was 100 Years of Flamenco in New York at Lincoln Center, which is the only dedicated flamenco exhibit I’ve ever attended. Described as a “love letter” to flamenco in New York, it uncovers the lives of renowned performers through historic photographs, drawings, programs, newspaper articles, sheet music, and costumes. Highlights include a rare video clip of La Macarrona in 1918, photographs of the arresting Carmen Amaya, and an 1840 Currier & Ives lithograph of Fanny Elssler. 100 Years is presented by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, and is on display until August 3. Admission is free.

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Lastly, I visited Back Tomorrow: Federico García Lorca / Poet in New York at the New York Pubic Library. Lorca is considered to be Spain’s greatest modern poet and playwright. I read several of his works when studying for my undergraduate degree in Spanish. A free thinker at a time when liberalism wasn’t publicly embraced in Spain, he was a true trend bucker. He wrote Poet in New York after spending several months there in 1929. This is the first time that the manuscript has ever been on display. The exhibit, produced in collaboration with the Fundación Federico García Lorca, features drawings, photographs, letters, and mementos. Lorca was assassinated in 1936 at the onset of the Spanish Civil War, but his rebellious spirit hovers at the core of Spanish culture. Back Tomorrow is on display until July 20. Admission is free.

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I’ll always be grateful to New York for being New York, and for being whatever any of us need it to be.