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Noche Flamenca, Taimane, and Taiko Masala

A World Music and Dance Weekend

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We felt like we toured the world this past weekend without ever leaving New York. It was a three-stop whirlwind of music and dance, and we were both spectators and participants.

Spain. On Sunday evening, we went to see Noche Flamenca’s “Rondan Los Deseos” or “Circle of Desire” at Joe’s Pub. For this music and dance performance, Noche Flamenca’s cofounders Martín Santangelo and Soledad Barrio were originally inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play “La Ronde.” Over time, the troupe has evolved the composition in new ways.

Each segment of the evening conveyed passion and emotion in different ways. Singers, Carmina Cortes and Manuel Gago, were accompanied by guitarist Salva de María and percussionist Antonio “El Chupete” Rodriguez. The sounds of the vocal and instrumental music complemented the stunning visual display of the flamenco dancers (Noche Flamenca co-founder Soledad Barrio, plus Marina Elana and Carlos Menchaca). The dances ranged from traditional in nature to more contemporary. In one duet, Ms. Barrio’s and Mr. Menchaca’s motions seemed to be a slow, freeze frame film sequence. In other dances, the percussive footwork was reminiscent of Broadway tap dancing.

Noche Flamenca has additional performances on January 9th through 11th at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, New York.

Japan. Saturday morning, we joined a Japanese drumming class organized by the New York Adventure Club. The event was held at Taiko Masala – a dojo for traditional drumming in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Master drummer Hiro Kurashima, who is the owner and founder of Taiko Masala, taught six of us the basics of taiko drumming. We started with basic rhythms and backbeats and then added in melodies. Playing the large barrel drums is a fun way to let off some steam and a good upper body workout, as well!

In addition to the periodic New York Adventure Club workshops, Taiko Masala also offers beginner classes every Saturday from 1pm to 2pm and Sundays at 10am. Taiko Masala is located at 781 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

Hawaii. Saturday evening we were at Joe’s Pub to see Taimane Gardner’s ukulele performance. She was joined by by classical guitarist Ramiro Marziani, percussionist Jonathan Heraux, violinist Melissa Kingdom Folzenlogen, and traditional Polynesian dancer Enormvs Muñoz.

This one-night show highlights how diverse an instrument the ukulele is! Taimane and the other musicians collaborated on mashups of Led Zeppelin and Beethoven, new interpretations of Maori haka ceremonial challenge dances, Carmen’s Bizet, and original compositions inspired by the planets and elements. In Taimane’s hands, the ukulele resembled a balalaika, sitar, and classical guitar.

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