Talkin' Broadway HomePast ColumnsAbout





Off Broadway


Marge Says
by Marjorie Shapiro


Pilar Rioja: Flamenco and Spanish Dance

Those who think that the gypsies in Southern Spain have Flamenco dancing locked up, have a lot to learn from Pilar Rioja and her company now performing at Repertorio Espanol on East 27th Street. Ms. Rioja is known worldwide as the “Queen of Spanish Dance,” and her extraordinary performance leaves little reason to doubt that this is true. For dance enthusiasts this is a production not to be missed.

Ms Rioja is a teacher at heart. Her love of all aspects of Spanish music, dance and song is apparent as she takes her audience through their different forms. Using classical, traditional folk, as well as flamenco dances, we learn that there’s a lot more to the Spanish dance repertoire than intricate footwork (don’t worry there’s plenty) and castanets (there’s plenty of those, too). Robert Weber Federico, the show’s lighting and production designer, introduces each act with a short and highly entertaining history of the Spanish/Flamenco dance as an art form. This wonderfully enhances the overall production.

In addition to dance, there are Flamenco and classical guitar soloists, an excellent percussionist, and Flamenco singers. Particularly astonishing was the Martinetto, a rhythmic song with no accompaniment, beautifully sung by Bernardo de Jean. But the heart of this production is the wonderful Pilar Riojas. Whether she is dancing in “Canarios,” with castanets and “zapateado,” which involves incredibly complex footwork, or when she transforms herself into a bullfighter in a dance using “toreando” movements, the physically expressive Ms Riojas dances from her soul and the audience adores her.

____________________________________

Pilar Rioja
Repertorio Espanol
The Spanish Theatre Repertory
138 East 27th Street
Through November 19
Tickets $40, $35, and $30
Reservations (212) 889-2850