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Live Reviews

Roxanne Butterfly & Worldbeat + Noche Flamenca
July 7, 2006

By Ernest Barteldes
Central Park Summerstage
New York

"I am not to be defined", said choreographer Roxanne Butterfly as she entered the stage as she mixed flamenco, tap dancing  and other styles backed by a four-piece band that drew inspiration from the Middle East, blending those influences with a certain jazzy feel (Duke Ellington's "Caravan" was one of the most recognizable tunes).  Her taps were amplified, and the pace of the show was quite fast-paced.

 

Butterfly's style is somewhat percussive, and as she danced she semi-rapped stories of places where men spent their time playing cards, smoking and drinking at a café while the women were perched somewhere out of sight.  Oud player Haroun Tebol showed great chops on his instrument, cleverly adapting his playing to the direction the band was going.

 

One of the most impressive moments of the performance happened when Barcelona-born Guillem Alonso danced a solo on a platform covered in sand – the sound resembled at first waves, and as the band went into a samba-inspired theme, he sped up his feet, doing a series of arm movements that drew a lot of applause from the audience.

 

The dancers took a break as the band did a Latin Jazz theme, which gave trumpetist Nicholas Folmer to do some Gillespie-influenced solos. The three dancers soon re-emerged for the finale, and the music shifted to a bebop mode. 

 

After a short break, the lights began to dim, and a solitary guitar filled the air. One by one, the members of Noche Flamenca took their places on stage. The singers began their laments while the dancers pounded their feet on the stage, providing the soul of their current show, "Cielo de Tierra" (Heaven on Earth), which was excerpted that night.

 

The troupe has just concluded a series of performances at Manhattan's Theatre 80, where they played without any amplification or microphones. They did not have that advantage at Central Park, so their taps at times sounded almost like they were beating on cans – loud.  The volume on the singers' microphones was a bit too intense at first, and the people in charge of the sound system did their best to remedy the situation.