Kaatsbaan International Dance Center: If you haven’t been—Go

Raymond has written about the Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana performance at Kaatsbaan International Dance center (https://rjsteiner.wordpress.com) but I wanted to write as well.

The Studio Complex at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center

The Studio Complex at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center

Kaatsbaan has surely come a long way since 25 years ago when I gave them a copy machine so that Greg and Bentley (founders as well as Martine van Hamel and Kevin McKenzie) could send out grant proposals. Currently, Kaatsbaan, situated on 153 rural acres in Tivoli, NY offers three premier dance studios in the Studio Complex and a 160-seat black-box performance theater with a performance floor the size of the Metropolitan Opera stage. The Dancers’ Inn accommodates 36 dancers in 16 quality motel style rooms all with private baths. The Gate House has 2 additional bedrooms and kitchen facilities. Planned for the future includes additional studios, a second Dancers’ Inn, a lodge and dining room complex, and restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic Stanford White designed “Music” Barn built in the 1890’s. The plan for the “Music Barn” is for a visitor reception area, shops, and 10,000 square feet of art and exhibition galleries. Kaatsbaan offers residencies for dance-related artists from all dance disciplines. I have enjoyed numerous performances by well over 100 companies that have had residencies of the past years, companies such as Martha Graham Dance Company, New York Theatre Ballet, Dances Patrelle, Rioult Dance, Jessica Lang Dance, Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Cunningham Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theatre and of course returning each year Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.

One of the Dance Studios

One of the Dance Studios at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Tivoli, NY

Directed by co-founder Martine van Hamel, Extreme Ballet continues since 1999 offering a unique training program designed for the serious young dancer. Students receive superior ballet training from world-class teachers with an emphasis on individual corrections. There are 3 sessions all taking place in the summer.

We were at Kaatsbaan celebrating Raymond’s Birthday and afterwards would have pedicures and then dinner. I thought it would be a good celebration and it was.

The dancers were fabulous. The audience could barely contain their enthusiasm and the house (about 150 seats) was filled as they were for the performance the previous evening. I could barely take my eyes off of Ángel Muñez and Charo Espino whose every movement was exquisite— the hands, arms, fingers the lift of the buttocks, the legs and feet. I’m excited just thinking about the dances. Not to say that the other dancers: Antonio Hidalgo, Isaac Tovar, Eliza Llewellyn, Laura Peralta and Elisabet Torras weren’t good. The entire company exuded delight, playfulness and a great sense of fun as they interacted with one another and the audience. We were treated to a world premiere of PiCa choreographed by Susana di Palma. This piece explores Pablo Picasso who was from Andalucia the “cradle of flamenco”. Susana di Plama wrote in the playbill: “Essentially what I wanted to do in this piece was to explore Picasso’s obsession with death and redemption. Therefore, I went with his Blue Period and Cubism.”

I surely must mention the musicians that are a major part of the Company. The voices of Felix De Lola and Francisco “YiYi” Orozco (who is also a percussionist), the wind instruments played by Diego Villegas and the guitarists Gaspar Rodriguez and Pedro Medina were an integral contribution of every piece. I was pleased that they had their own “solos” and their powerful music just added another depth to this over the top evening!

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