Greco brings his art to Juneau audience

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2000

Flamenco is timeless. It summons up distant, misty traditions, which, for many Americans, means the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955.

That's when aficionados of the ancient art of Flamenco would have caught Jose Greco the Elder - in what, on anyone else, would have been cripplingly tight pants - clacking his heels to furiously syncopating castanets in the swirling hands of his impossibly sensual dancing partner.

If Ed Sullivan - a fine example of cigar-store statuary - could be moved by such exotica, Americans from Podunk to the steaming hollows of Tennessee must have been slapping happy feet onto their pinewood floors in resonance and tribute.

And moved Sullivan was, for Greco appeared on the program many times.

Today his son, Jose Greco II, carries on the tradition with his globe-trotting troupe of Flamenco dancers and musicians.

And Juneau residents who insist they are young enough never even to have heard of Ed Sullivan can nevertheless experience the amazing fusion of true Iberian folk dance and ballet that the Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company brings to Juneau Saturday night.

The group, contacted in Kodiak, is in the midst of a 16-stop, crosscountry tour that originated in Orlando, Fla., and will go on for two months, said company manager Mary Sanchez.

``Mr. Greco likes to keep his dancers dancing and rehearsing,'' she said.

In the Juneau performance, the company will present six dancers - including Greco - a guitarist and a singer.

For lovers and students of Flamenco who think one size of the form fits all, ``the dancing changes with time,'' Sanchez said. ``New techniques develop that are different and, especially in recent years, a lot more athletic techniques.''

Jose II began his dance studies at the age of 17 at the School of Dance of the National Ballet of Spain. In 1982 he joined his sister Carmela's troupe and eventually performed for their majesties, the king and queen of Spain, and took his own company on the road.

Following his father's path, his performances routinely bring out rave reviews, beginning with the Los Angeles Times observation - on the occasion of Greco's 1996 U.S. debut - ``Greco II has long since moved out of his father's shadow to become a star of unique heat and incandescence.''

The Saturday night performance is the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's big concert of the season, said the council's Liz Johnson.

And there is a bonus for people who want to get really close to the essence of Flamenco: Greco will present a master class in Flamenco Dance on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Juneau-Douglas High School, ``for any age and any ability,'' Johnson said.

Dancers wanting to try Flamenco should bring along hard-soled shoes. The class lasts an hour and costs $15.

Tickets for Saturday night's 8 p.m. performance are $20 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors and $12 for ages 12 and under. Tickets are available at all bookstores.

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