Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival on stage at Unison and Rosendale Theatre

We’re all familiar with one of the earliest recorded uses in English – by the witches in Macbeth – of the lovely 16th-century word hurlyburly, meaning an uproar or tumult. Though we get the sense of things being randomly thrown around from the “hurly” half, the official etymology doesn’t give us much to go on for the “burly” part, except possibly as a worn-down form of the phrase “hurling and burling,” which apparently once signified creating chaos. But my sometimes-accurate linguistic radar points toward “burly” being related somehow to the Spanish verb burlar, which means to mock or outwit someone. As I understand it, the noun form, burlería, carries a secondary meaning of making a racket.

And that brings us to the perhaps-not-so-coincidentally-similar-sounding bulerías: the saucy, raucous, insistent, arguably mocking 12-count rhythm that is the heart of flamenco – as essential to the Spanish artform as saudade is to Brazilian bossa nova. Fortunately for fans and wannabe practitioners, it’s a little easier to define. It’s also not as impossible to master as it might appear at first listening, according to Anna Librada Mazo Georges, who grew up in New Paltz and returned to the region with a mission to make flamenco accessible to the masses, and even a participatory celebration, the way it has always been in Spain.

The maiden voyage of the Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival took place last year, managing to fill nearly all the seats at the Rosendale Theatre. So, you’ll want to reserve yours right now for the second annual performance of The People’s Flamenco, getting underway at the same venue on Saturday, October 12 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 in advance, available at www.unisonarts.org/event/hudson-valley-flamenco-festival-2019, and $22 at the door if there are any left. 

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The performers will include singers Mario Rincón and Barbara Martinez, guitarists Andreas Arnold and Mike Diago (a Beacon resident recently hired as a social worker at Highland High School) and dancers Elisabet Torras and Anna Librada Mazo Georges herself. Deirdre Towers is the choreographer (although flamenco without some improv on the dancer’s part, spurred on by the cante established by the singer, is almost unthinkable).

Part Two of the festival happens on Sunday at Unison Arts in New Paltz, and this is the part where public participation comes in. “This year we are excited to add our workshop series to really emphasize that flamenco isn’t just about performing; it is about creating art in collaboration,” says Mazo Georges. From 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. there are introductory and intermediate workshops for both musicians and dancers. Guitar and percussion workshops, taught by Jared Newman and Dierdre Towers, will teach basic chord progressions typically used in flamenco performances as well as the complex bulerías rhythm. “Clapping is one of the main parts of flamenco, so if you don’t play an instrument, you’ll still be able to participate!” say the organizers. Barbara Martinez and Mazo Georges will teach the “Bulerías for Everyone” dance workshops, meant to demystify flamenco for the newbie.

At 5:30, when all the educational hurlyburly’s done, both participants and new arrivals will be treated to a private party with tapas and a “flamenco jam” where students can try out their newly acquired skills. Fees for Sunday’s offerings range from $20 for the evening Fiesta Flamenca only to $35 for one Level 1 workshop, $65 for Level 1 & 2 workshops in either guitar/percussion or dance and $80 for the Full Flamenco Experience. 

Even if you’re a wallflower, you can come on out, learn to clap with purpose and meaning and propel these dancers to a triumphal evening. All levels and students over 12 years old are welcome. Visit www.unisonarts.org/event/hudson-valley-flamenco-festival-2019-2 for Fiesta and workshop tickets.

The People’s Flamenco
Saturday, Oct. 12, 4:30 p.m.
$22/$20
Rosendale Theatre
408 Main St., Rosendale
(845) 658-8989
www.rosendaletheatre.org

Flamenco Workshops & Fiesta
Sunday, Oct. 13, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
$20-$80
Unison Arts & Learning Center
68 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz
(845) 255-1559
www.unisonarts.org/event/hudson-valley-flamenco-festival-2019