Irene Rodríguez’s Cuban-Infused Flamenco Dance at Joyce Theater

Dancer-choreographer Irene Rodríguez (Courtesy photo via El Diario)

A dance company will bring to the city a taste of Cuba by way of an unusual medium: flamenco. It is a spectacle that promises to fill the Joyce Theater with deep emotions, zapateo [Spanish tap dance] and fierceness.

The Compañía Irene Rodríguez (Irene Rodríguez Company) will close the latest Cuba Festival edition with her show “Más que flamenco,” which includes such pieces as “El mito,” “Amaranto,” “Locura y cordura” and “La pena negra.” The latest one is inspired by the poem ‘Romance de la pena negra’ [Black pain romance] by Federico García Lorca.

“We will bring to the Joyce Theater a very contemporary and renewed vision of flamenco with minimalist scenographic resources. The main focus is on the dancers’ interpretation. There are some really revolutionary pieces in the program that we are sure the audience will enjoy,” said Irene Rodríguez, director and lead dancer of the group.

The company will offer five shows through Jan. 20, marking their return to the stage in which they made their city debut in 2016.

“(…) With ‘Más que flamenco,’ as the title suggests, we are going beyond what’s typical. Every piece tells a story, a plot that we share using an international esthetic vocabulary,” she added.

The choreographer and dancer said that her passion for Spanish dance started when she was very little, as her parents, of Spanish origin, were really close to their roots. She studied classical ballet at a young age but soon realized that she was drawn to Andalusian dances.

“I am classically trained, but I remember as a child I would grab the key chains and make them sound as if they were castanets. Over time, and as I wanted to work more intensely in choreographies, I started to fuse Afro Cuban and Spanish rhythms and styles in order to cross borders and give shape to what this company represents,” she said.

As for how the company that bears her name started in 2012, Rodríguez recalls it was a difficult time because she had to overcome multiple challenges, including financing a 10-member collective.

“I am proud to say that today the company has 20 dancers and that we also have a dance school with 400 registered students. We have an exceptional team. It’s been hard work but very rewarding and in constant evolution,” said Rodríguez about the group that has also performed at such venues as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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