Sunday, November 15, 2009
Mambo Lives at Copa Night
Orquesta GarDel's three vocalists: Jaime Ramon, Ramon Ortiz (front) and Nelson Delgado
Despite some drawbacks to the venue, the Copa Night 5th Anniversary at Parizade turned out to be one hell of a party. Orquesta GarDel performed two slamming salsa sets following dance performances by Junior & Emily, Yamulee, CoboBrothers, Mambo Dinamico and others.
I'm not an "on 2" dancer and I don't particularly relish stage shows, but the performers flaunted a lot of admirable nerve and skill. I find the women particularly fearless--just like they used to say about Ginger Rogers, who did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. These mambo ladies were lifted and tossed into aerial moves, slid across the floor, and vaulted over their partners' bodies to land in splits, all with smiles on their faces and outfitted in sequined pumps and intricate, spandex fantasies as revealing as bikinis.
The dance show ran late, and due to the recent change in venue (George's Garage closed earlier this year, forcing Copa Night to relocate to Parizade), not everyone could see the dance stage; host Milton Cobo apologized to guests for the inconveniences, and promised to make it up to them.
Raleigh company Mambo Dinamico dedicated their dance to the local community that supports them year round, while The CoboBrothers scored heavy applause for their athletic airborne moves and high drama styling. Yamulee from The Bronx always scores points in my book for strong, classic taste, and I liked the unusual music selection by Atlanta's Proyecto Barrio of "My Favorite Things" in a Latin jazz version with vibes.
But the top honors of the evening have to go to West Coast dancers Junior and Emily, a pro team from San Francisco with 10 world titles under their belts. Technically superb, relaxed, and totally adorable, they are absolutely popping with individuality and all the qualities that make dancing look fun. Junior's open-chested, bell-bottomed costumes evoked WWF and sailors' uniforms; Emily's neon pink and yellow fringed skirts and glitter eyelashes evoked swing-era kewpie dolls and futuristic anime heroines. Their hairstyles were also too cute for words, completing the character. And that's just the frosting. When this duo hits the stage, it's as kinetic and explosive as water hitting a greasefire. Flawless fun with turning technique was a focus, less so aerial acrobatics. Turns out they are down-to-earth people in real life, too, as I discovered when I congratulated them backstage.
With all the mambo faithful gathered, there was a lot of energy in the room when the time came for social dancing. Into this charged atmosphere, GarDel delivered.
Sometimes you are at the party; other times you are of the party. I didn't do a whole lot of photographing last night; you can guess why.
GarDel tearing it up last night with an Eddie Palmieri tune.
Chart Gawking! GarDel original "Welcome to Shakori Hills"
Looking over first trumpet Alberto Carrasquillo's shoulder, I got this peek at his warm-up chart: an original in timba style by the band's trombonist and co-leader, Andy Kleindienst. Click on either photo to see larger!