Dancers will Flamenco at Hop

by James M> Hunnicutt | 6/19/96 5:00am

The dancers and musicians of Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco will bring the clapping hands, stamping heels and staccato rhythms of Spain's classic dance to the Moore Theater of the Hopkins Center of Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 25 and 26.

Benitez and her company of singers, dancers and guitarists will perform Estampa Flamenca, a suite of five formal Spanish dances in the flamenco style, to traditional accompaniment by guitar and voice.

Improvisations by singers, guitarists and dancers are the focus of the suite, which showcases dancers in solos, trios and duets and features musicians in spotlit performances.

"She is very well known," said Margaret Lawrence, director of programming for the Hopkins Center. "She is regarded as one of the forerunners of flamenco internationally, even though she's based in this country."

Critics have described her as "the Baryshnikov of flamenco," Lawrence added.

Benitez' performance was described by the Sacramento Bee as "a concentrated encounter with passion."

Born in New Mexico, Benitez began her dance career in the United States where she studied ballet before going to Spain to study and perform. There she worked with the legendary flamenco dancers Mercedes and Albano and Victoria Eugenia, and she continues to study with Ciro from time to time today.

During her years abroad, Benitez performed in every Spanish province, in North Africa, Portugal and South America, with large national Spanish dance companies and in smaller flamenco groups.

Back in the United States, she and her husband, Cecilio, a theater technician, founded the Maria Benitez Spanish Dance Company -- now Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco -- and the Institute for Spanish Arts, a non-profit educational and cultural organization.

The dance company has since performed throughout the United States and abroad and will appear in late June at Jacob's Pillow, following the performances at the Hopkins Center.

Both performances will be preceded at 7 p.m. in the Hopkins Center Faculty Lounge by free, informal Spotlight discussions with Joseph Pepe DeChiazza of the Dartmouth drama faculty; Vicki Mansfield, Hopkins Center ballet teacher; and members of the company.

Admission to Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco in the Moore Theater of the Hopkins Center at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 25 and 26, is $16.50 for reserved seats and $8.50 for Dartmouth students.

Tickets are available at the Hopkins Center Box Office, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for window sales and for telephone orders at (603) 646-2422.

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