Add a dash of Spanish spice

Deena Bustillo

Clap your hands and stomp your feet Friday – either rhythmically holding onto the flamenco beat or in protest like a disappointed five-year-old – because Chicago’s month-long Flamenco 2006 is coming to a close.

Before the Chicago festival ends, catch a glimpse of flamenco culture at an art exhibit by Pepe Criado, a famed Spanish painter, at the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago. Criado’s paintings feature traditional Spanish themes with a focus on bullfighting images. The exhibit is open through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

The film Tango, no me dejes nunca, about the woes of a dumped Argentinean movie director, is being screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. and March 2 at 8 p.m., as part of the Carlos Saura Film Series. Saura is a Spanish director and winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 European Film Awards. Tickets cost $9 for general admission and $7 for students.

For the fifth year in a row, the festival has provided Chicago with dance performances, exhibits, lectures and workshops centered on the flavorful Spanish dance. Katie Feldman, a SESP sophomore, attended a flamenco performance at Northeastern Illinois University by the Madrid dance company Noche Flamenca. The acclaimed troupe performs worldwide at events and places such as the Hollywood Bowl.

“It was a very cultured crowd,” Feldman says. “I thought it would be all college students because it was on a college campus, but there were lots of intense folk who were very into it and were probably ages 20 to 40.”

The performance consisted of two acts, each containing the three components of flamenco: cante (song), baile (dance) and guitarra (guitar playing). Feldman says men predominately played instruments while women dance, wearing vibrant attire. “Women’s costumes were ornate and flowing,” she says. “They kept gathering them and letting them swing.”

Other festival events included a dance workshop put on by Noche Flamenca co-founder Soledad Barrio and a performance by 2003 Latin Grammy nominee Juan Carmona.

More information about the festival and artists can be found at www.cervantes1.org.

– Deena Bustillo