Fiery Passion

Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre’s performance of ‘From Spain to Argentina,’ Sept. 21 at the Richard Marasco Performing Arts Center in Monroe will include dances such as the Argentinean waltz, the Zapateado and the Milon.

By: Dana Flatekval

Performers from Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre will grace the stage of the Richard Marasco Performing Arts Cen´ter in Monroe Sept. 21.>

   It’s 1954 and a beautiful tropical night in Havana, Cuba. At a swinging café, international artists are performing the sultry, sensuous sounds and dances of the Flamenco and Guajiras, both flirtatious and rhythmic.
   Women dressed in Panama hats and frilly skirts and men clothed in white trousers, white shoes and dark sunglasses take center stage and begin to capture the audience’s attention.
   This is only a glimpse of what the audience will see during Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre’s performance of From Spain to Argentina, Sept. 21 at the Richard Marasco Performing Arts Center in Monroe.
   The evening will include the Argentinean waltz with Virginia Kelly and Walter Perez, with movements coming from the waltzes of the Courts of Europe of several hundred years ago; the Zapateado, a classical piece from the turn of the century from Madrid, in riding outfits; the precursor to the Tango, the Milonga, a beautiful fun-loving duet, again with Ms. Kelly and Mr. Perez, with Pancho Navarro on the bandoneon, an Argentinean-sytle accordion; and Tito Castro on the guitar.
   "Each concert seeks to educate the public on Spanish history, its culture and music," says Eva Lucena, executive director of Alborada. "It brings other guest artists from other Hispanic countries who demonstrate the cultural interchanges that took place during the periods of colonization."
   Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre began in the 1960s and was then known as the Spanish Dance Theatre. Ms. Lucena’s mentor, Maria Alba, founded the company but later died in 1992. Ms. Lucena revived the company, moved it to New Jersey and renamed it Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre after "alba," meaning "dawn."
   "The name of the theater is a beautiful thing," says Ms. Lucena. "It means the coming of dawn and is named in memory of Maria."
   It becomes easy for people to relate to Alborada performances because it includes all backgrounds. It allows for the similarities of cultures to shine through.
   "A lot of Hispanics reside in the metropolitan area," Ms. Lucena says. "My company seeks to educate people on all cultures of Spain through both classical, regional dance and dramas. Every year we try to show everyone the influences that other countries have brought to Spain."
   In this particular performance the audience will become part of the club scene at the café. The audience members are invited to think of themselves as patrons actually seated at small tables onstage.
   "We want to get everyone involved in the journey and have them feel as if they are really in the café involved in the fast-paced scenes," says Ms. Lucena. "The shows are usually more theatrical, however, this will have more of a theatrical and festive feeling because of the stage design and rhythm of the music."
   Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre offers workshops as well, and shares its cultural expertise with schools, libraries and communities. Musicians and dancers speak about the music, dance, culture and history of Spain and other countries.
   Past performances have included music, dance and other influences from the Philippines, India and Mexico.
   "This particular program is cross-cultural," says principal dancer Lisa Botalico. "Both dance forms are expressions of oppression, they show both despair and hope. These dances resonate throughout time and evoke individual feelings, making it easy for people to relate."
   Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre has an unusually large following of fans from all over the metropolitan area including North Jersey, South Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
   "We sold out in four places last year," says Ms. Lucena. "This year we are hoping for the same. Since we have all cultures under one dance program, the audience leaves with a good feeling and a cultural experience. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll get hooked."
   The show will end with a series of rumbas, Flamenco style. But, as with Flamenco, there will be a surprising twist.
   "Music and dance are the two most influential ambassadors of peace," says Ms. Lucena.
Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre performs From Spain to Argentina at Richard Marasco Performing Arts Center, 1629 Perrineville Road, Monroe, Sept. 21, 3 p.m. Tickets cost $10, $8 patrons. For information, call (609) 655-9232. On the Web: