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Soles of Duende Presents Simply the Type of Artwork We Want Proper Now

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In any given Soles of Duende rehearsal, somebody may ask for Greta. “Once we are hitting partitions or butting heads, we name ‘Greta, the place are you?’ ” says dancer Amanda Castro. 

Greta is just not actual. She’s the personification of the inventive thought, as imagined by the Soles of Duende trio: Castro, Brinda Guha, and Arielle Rosales. Different occasions, a dancer may name out “parking zone,” to desk an thought they don’t have time for, or “mangu,” which is the identify of a mashed plantain dish and indicators they’re too drained or overloaded to assume clearly. 

Arielle Rosales, Brinda Guha, and Amanda Castro (Soles of Duende) jam together on a New York City street corner. Guha, in center, leans forward and grins at the camera, nose scrunching, as she claps; she is barefoot, and wears ghungroo ankle bells. On either side, Rosales and Castro face each other, Castro grinning as she claps and stamps in her tap shoes, Rosales giving a playful look as she raises her arms overhead, flamenco shoes ready to drop a heel.
Arielle Rosales, Brinda Guha, and Amanda Castro. Photograph by Alexander Bitar, courtesy Soles of Duende.

Any group develops their very own lingo after spending hours collectively. However for 3 dancers working in several bodily languages—kathak (Guha), flamenco (Rosales), and faucet (Castro)—this shared verbal lexicon streamlines the inventive course of. “They don’t share the identical fashion, however they share the identical sort of inventive power,” says faucet dancer Jason Samuels Smith, who lately labored with the trio throughout a residency on the Chelsea Manufacturing facility in New York Metropolis. “Some collaborations can really feel compelled. However with them, you are feeling the chemistry, you are feeling the camaraderie.” And at a second when cross-cultural conversations can really feel fraught, these artists are showcasing the ability of embracing our variations.      

Distinct Voices in Concord

Soles of Duende, or “Soles” because the dancers name it, began in 2016 when Guha and Rosales had a chance to carry out at Dixon Place. The pair had met as colleagues at Broadway Dance Middle and had already carried out a couple of initiatives collectively, they usually wished to weave in a further percussive dance voice this time. “We would have liked a 3rd sound so it wasn’t only a back-and-forth, however a dialog amongst a workforce,” says Guha. Then, at Run The Night time, a business dance competitors led by Jared Grimes, Guha watched Castro set the viewers afire with a faucet dance solo to an excerpt of “Winter,” from Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons. She knew she’d discovered their third voice.   

Arielle Rosales and Brinda Guha are a blur of motion in red light. Rosales whirls a tasseled cape before her, while Guha uses both hands to lift her skirts, gazing over at her bare feet.
Arielle Rosales and Brinda Guha in Can We Dance Right here?. Photograph by Corey Rives, courtesy Soles of Duende.

The primary time all three gathered as a gaggle was for a publicity-photo shoot for the piece they hadn’t begun rehearsing for but. Nonetheless, the vibes flowed. “It was like we had been all long-lost pals,” says Guha.

The work they created was a success, they usually had been requested to carry out it once more…and once more. “Folks need to see virtuosity in music and rhythm that doesn’t embody machismo and competitors,”­ says Guha. By 2018, Soles was again at Dixon Place as artists in residence creating the primary iteration of their full-length work Can We Dance Right here? That work has since develop into­ a calling card, with the newest model taking the stage at The Joyce Theater this January as a part of the American Dance Platform. 

Within the viewers of that 2018 run was critic and curator Eva Yaa Asantewaa, who, wowed by their vivacity and generosity as performers, would later fee Soles for Gibney’s Highlight Collection in New York Metropolis. “I used to be utterly received over, not solely by their particular person technical and aesthetic capabilities but in addition by the seamless, joyful approach they blended these discrete percussive dance kinds and energies,” she says.

Experimentation and Negotiation

In Soles’ work, the dancers typically “move the mic” backwards and forwards, and typically dance in unison. However a lot of the magic occurs once they every deal with the identical rhythm in their very own fashion, showcasing simply what number of similarities dwell inside their variations. “We hear music very equally usually, however the best way we bodily execute the step could be very totally different,” Rosales says. To get a greater sense of one another’s weight distribution, the three will typically placed on one another’s sneakers, or Guha’s ghungroo ankle bells, and do conventional warm-ups in one another’s kinds. 

Arielle Rosales, Brinda Guha, and Amanda Castro (Soles of Duende) pose together, all wearing shades of green and white. Rosales smiles cheekily, chin ducked and an arm elegantly curved, palm up in invitation. Castro, seated, lifts her chin and smiles brightly, one hand outstretched palm up to the camera, knees bending as though ready to begin tapping any second. Guha sits elevated behind them both in profile, an inviting smile on her face as she gracefully crosses one arm to touch the opposite shoulder.
Soles of Duende. Photograph by Mike Esperanza, courtesy Soles of Duende.

Choreographing is a continuing negotiation—with one another, and with how they signify their kinds. “We’ve got a Boricua from Connecticut doing faucet dance. We’ve got a Mexican Jew who grew up on the Decrease East Facet doing flamenco. We’ve got a Bengali American who’s studying a North Indian classical dance type in New Jersey,” says Guha. “Are we even allowed to make these inventive choices? And when can we transfer ahead with and with out blessings, and when can we experiment in good religion?” These questions are a part of what knowledgeable the title of Can We Dance Right here? (The opposite half is extra literal: The trio has usually been provided residencies, however advised they couldn’t make noise and wouldn’t have a percussive flooring.)

All three are very conscious that work in traditionally marginalized kinds should be carried out with integrity. “Even when now we have choreographic disagreements, we’re like, ‘Nicely, why do you are feeling like that?’ After which we find yourself having an hour-long dialog about historical past and why this step is this manner,” says Castro. 

Sure, They Can Dance Right here

Right now, Soles additionally contains three dwell musicians. They’re handled as each a band and a dance group, which might open up alternatives at many varieties of venues however may also typically imply acting on small phases with wonderful sound high quality however little area to maneuver. Now, with a 2023 Bessie nomination for Excellent Breakout Choreographer and rave opinions in The New York Occasions, they’re hoping to get one of the best of each worlds quickly. This yr, the group is wrapping up the ultimate performances of Can We Dance Right here? and dealing on a brand new feature-length work to premiere in 2025. 

They’ve stopped asking for permission to bop as a result of, wherever they’re, they know they’ll discover a method to do it. “Even after we look forward to the prepare to return house, we’ll hear the subway and we’ll simply begin clapping,” says Rosales. “And now we’re jamming and stomping and doing vocals to the sound of the prepare going by. That’s how we hang around.”

Brinda Guha, Amanda Castro, and Arielle Rosales stand close together in a Soles of Duende performance. Each extends their right arm forward to the center of their front-facing cluster, fingers closing in a manner familiar to flamenco technique. They are lit in purples and pinks on a small stage with a textured, dark back wall.
Soles of Duende acting at Joe’s Pub. Photograph by Darryl Padilla, courtesy Soles of Duende.

Meet the Trio: Amanda Castro

When folks ask Amanda Castro what sort of dancer she is, she likes to inform them “I’m a storyteller.” 

She might additionally say she was that BFA pupil who choreographed faucet dance numbers on the experimental California Institute of the Arts, even after the dean advised her to not. Or that she adopted 4 years at City Bush Ladies with stints in a regional manufacturing of Within the Heights and as Anita in a tour of West Facet Story. Or that she now works with heavy-hitting faucet dance stars like Ayodele Casel, Dormeshia, Jason Samuels Smith, Jared Grimes, Caleb Teicher, and others. She might point out being one in all Dance Journal’s “25 to Watch” in 2023, and profitable a Bessie for Excellent Performer later that yr. 

However she sticks with what she sees as her mission as a dancer: to inform tales. “Sure, there are totally different languages, that are the totally different kinds of dance,” she says. “However I’m right here to offer a service to the folks.”

Meet the Trio: Brinda Guha

Collaboration has lengthy pushed Brinda Guha’s work. It’s even why she fell in love with kathak itself. “I spotted how kathak was a confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures and religions, the way it exemplifies how folks truly work collectively and dwell collectively and specific collectively and make music collectively,” she says. 

Right now, along with her work as a dancer and firm supervisor with Soles of Duende, Guha is the inventive director of latest Indian dance ensemble Kalamandir Dance Firm, curator of arts showcase Sensible Fruit NYC, and senior producing coordinator for Dance/NYC. Her essential targets are to research what makes any artwork type modern and to work from a spot that’s pushed by the female divine, whether or not within the exploration of latest Indian dance in her private dance follow or by way of collaboration. 

To raised perceive the essen­tial components of dance, she’s sought out practitioners from different kinds.  It’s why she first determined to collaborate with Arielle Rosales. “There was this dialogue round the place our private kinds discovered a method to communicate to one another cohesively, and once they had been in dissonance,” Guha says. That dialogue has solely grown deeper by way of her work in Soles. 

Arielle Rosales, Amanda Castro, and Brinda Guha clap and sway in unison during a Soles of Duende performance.
Soles of Duende on the Ragas Dwell Pageant. Photograph by Darryl Padilla, courtesy Soles of Duende.

Meet the Trio: Arielle Rosales

On her web site, Arielle Rosales calls herself a “social engagement performing artist.” It was a time period she selected, she says, as a result of she might by no means discover the proper phrases to explain her work: “Simply saying ‘flamenco dancer’ felt inaccurate.” 

Along with pushing the boundaries of flamenco, Rosales is a percussionist with an all-woman Afro-Brazilian band, and he or she as soon as ran a multicultural dance faculty in East Harlem referred to as Home of Duende (which hosted a few of Soles of Duende’s first rehearsals and led to the group’s identify). The phrase “social engagement” additionally felt prefer it higher encompassed her love of partaking instantly with the audi­ence by way of site-specific work and the lecture-demonstrations she does with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. 

Nonetheless, Rosales admits that the time period initially got here out of a spot of concern that her experimentations with the shape meant she didn’t absolutely qualify­ as a flamenco dancer. However that’s modified. “Over the seven years with Soles, as a result of we’re so intentional about what conventional issues we’re utilizing, and after we’re breaking the principles, in that journey of integrity, now I’ll name myself a flamenco dancer absolutely,” she says. “I don’t really feel any extra like anybody can take that away from me.” 

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