Colombian dance takes over a little corner of Sunnyside this Sunday afternoon with a snapshot of what the 22-strong Mestizo Dance Company is all about.
Thalia Spanish Theatre, the only bilingual Hispanic theater in Queens, has put on these free outdoor Spanish dance festivals for 18 years featuring styles from Spain to Mexico to many South American countries. The shows serve as a small taste of the much bigger production held at the 30-year-old theater around the corner, said Thalia Spanish Theatre Director Angel Gil Orrios.
“It’s a way to pay back the community,” he said.
Last week, rain held off just long enough for dancers and musicians from the theater to show off their skills. Mexico was the focus of that show, with its flowing, brightly colored and lace-adorned costumes and traditional mariachi music. The all-female mariachi band dressed in traditional black and white with pink ties around their necks and pink flowers in their hair.
Artistic Director Yloy Ybarra called about 10 hesitant kids to the stage — only one boy could be persuaded by his parents — to show off their moves, but they warmed up to the spotlight as the music got faster and faster.
Between the several dances, Ybarra told the approximately 150 viewers about how the nails in the dancers shoes are used to accomplish different volumes and pitches of stomps. He also gave a little historical background and geographical grounding to each of the dances. A few were el jarabe tapatio, las chiapanecas, la bamba and los viejitos.
Los viejitos, Spanish for little old men, is a comical dance meant to honor elders, according to Ybarra. Two dancers wearing masks playfully spun and fancy-stepped around the performance area in multicolored outfits and canes.
“It’s a very popular event,” said Managing Director Soledad Lopez, who is playing a lead role in the theater’s production of “La Callas & Medea,” which runs through June 24. Productions switch off between Spanish and English and the audiences are usually split “50/50” between the two languages, Orrios said.
Thalia Spanish Theatre used to hold free outdoor events four times a year, but now, because of funding cuts to the arts, the theater has slimmed its free offerings to just two performances.
“We hope funding isn’t cut more,” said Orrios said. “But unfortunately when it is cut, it’s the free shows that go.”
Free outdoor festival
When: June 10, 1 p.m.
Where: Thomson Hill Park, Greenpoint Ave. and 42nd St.
Tickets: Free, (718) 729-3880