Things to do in the fall: go apple picking, drink cider, rake leaves, and learn to dance Flamenco. Westchester County has an endless supply of things to do, both indoors and outdoors, but some might be better known than others. From now through early October, Sleepy Hollow resident and dancer/choreographer Rebecca Thomas will lead a series of free flamenco workshops for all ages at the Warner Library in Tarrytown. Thomas, in partnership with the Warner Library, received 2017 Arts Alive Community Project grant from ArtsWestchester for the workshops, which are led by Thomas as well as dancers and musicians from her company, A Palo Seco. The workshops cover the history and technique of flamenco, as well as hands-on dance instruction.
In Thomas’ words: “Flamenco has the unique ability to speak to people at a deep level. Its music emits a raw sentiment, its rhythmic dance captivates audiences of all backgrounds, and it speaks to the universal experience of being human. Born from both pain and joie de vivre, it is a multicultural art form, rising from a mixture of religions and cultures that coexisted in Spain hundreds of years ago.”
It is that coexistence and community-driven mindset that pushed her to offer these workshops. She continued: “With this in mind, one of my goals as an artist is to make Flamenco accessible to as many people as possible.”
She continued this sentiment, explaining that her ability to connect people to each other and to her art form is meaningful to her. When asked what her Arts Alive grant helped her to accomplished, she responded: “A deeper connection with my community through my art form.” She went on to explain: “[The Arts Alive grant has helped me to] share the art I love with a mixture of generations and cultures, and see how much joy and connection it brings people – and how genuinely interested they are in learning about the music and dance from a different culture. Also, I’m able to bring my entire company – seven artists – to perform one of our full shows – lights, sound, choreography, and all – right here in my village. That’s special to me.”
Offered throughout Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), the next dance workshop will be on Monday, October 2 at 6:30pm at the Warner Library. A Palo Seco will be performing at Sleepy Hollow Firehouse on Saturday, October 7 at both 3pm and 7pm. For tickets to the performances, please visit: www.artful.ly/Flamenco.
Arts Alive is made possible with funds from the Decentralization program, a re-grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature and administered by ArtsWestchester. The grant is designed to support emerging artists and local organizations present arts and cultural activities for the community. The 2018 Arts Alive grant opportunity is accepting applications now through Wednesday, October 4. For more information, please visit arts.org/artsalive.
photo credit top: Durst Breneiser
photo credit bottom: Lee Wexler
Susan Abbott is Associate Director or Programs at ArtsWestchester.