The Gerardo Núñez Quintet played at NYU’s Skirball Center this past Thursday as part of the ongoing Flamenco Festival. Núñez is a consummate guitarist, whose clear carrying of simultaneous melodic lines makes him a Glenn Gould-like figure of flamenco nuevo. His compositions are joyful in their inordinate rhythmic complexity. Many people in the audience delightedly attempted to follow the beat- one man kept time with rhythmic rapping on his neighbor’s knee, another woman’s foot tapped uncontrollably in the aisle, and many, many people bobbed their heads.
Núñez was joined by Gypsy dancer, Carmen Cortés, a renowned performer of flamenco puro. Though a dancer of notable gravitas, her performance became an accidental spectacle. Early in the evening and in the midst of a rapid turn, Cortés’ dress became entangled in one of her long, dangling earrings. Wasting no time (and still to the beat of the music) she ripped the errant article from her ear and flung it wildly across the stage.
In a later dance, Cortés noticed her butterfly clip loosening from her long hair. Instead of tightening it, she snapped her head quickly to one side and sent the offending item flying offstage. Without the clip to buttress her hair, a battery of bands and other accouterments careened from her unraveling updo, littering the performance space with plastic and rubber. Calmly steering through the shrapnel, Cortés completed her dance, walked placidly back to her seat, and with hair streaming dramatically down her shoulders, took up a fresh round of palmas. The audience, enjoying the rhythmic over-stimulation and agog with the over-the-top-ness of Cortés’ performance, clapped wildly. Flamenco like this should visit The Village more often.