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Bits & Bytes: Noche Flamenca at Mahaiwe; Humane Society therapy pets; Bindlestiff at Helsinki

Antigone was the first feminine heroine written for the stage. She was not afraid to show her strength, her pain, and her passion, all attributes that are deep at the heart of flamenco.

Noche Flamenca’s ‘Antigona’ at Mahaiwe

Great Barrington — Noche Flamenca will present Antigona at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Friday, January 23 at 8 p.m. at 14 Castle Street. Hailed by critics for its transcendent and deeply emotional performances, Noche Flamenca is one of the most authentic flamenco companies in the world today, and Soledad Barrio is its star. This new evening-length work based on Sophocles’ ancient Greek heroine combines live music, song, and dance, bringing the fiery, expressive nature of flamenco to one of the world’s great tragedies. There will be a post-show Q & A with the artists about flamenco and the production.

“We’re delighted to host Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca for this ground-breaking new work, and to support artistic director Martín Santangelo as the company develops this piece,” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly. “We know they look forward to hearing audience feedback after the performance and we are excited to be a part of that process.”

“The Mahaiwe is a delicious place to perform,” said Noche Flamenca Artistic Director Martín Santangelo. “The theater is so elegant — it’s like a beautiful grand dame. The intimacy of the space is perfect for flamenco and Beryl Jolly and her team make us feel so welcome.”

Soledad Barrio as Antigona.
Soledad Barrio as Antigona.

The idea to create a flamenco interpretation of the text and themes in Sophocles’ classic play began when Martín Santangelo encountered the Living Theatre’s production of Antigone, and was struck by the battle between an individual, disenfranchised woman, and the authority of the state and its patriarchy. The idea resurfaced in 2010 when Judge Baltazar Garzon was suspended from the Spanish court for his efforts to publicly honor those who fought against Franco, allowing families to bury their relatives previously left in mass graves. This breach of democracy struck Santangelo as similar to the conflict in Antigone, confirming his belief that the story is alive and relevant today. At its heart however, the story of Antigone resonates with the roots of flamenco, which is based not in any one culture or religion but on the strength of family. Antigone’s story is her humanity and her quest to bury her brother regardless of the circumstances.

In collaboration with his wife and principal dancer, Soledad Barrio, who plays the role of Antigona, Santangelo began the development process for Antigona in 2012, working with the company in Spain for five weeks over the summer. Since that time, rehearsals and workshops have taken place at the Company’s New York City studio, in San Juan Bautista at El Teatro Campesino, and at the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. One of the most exciting aspects of this project has been the opportunity to work with artists from outside the dance world who are exemplary in their own fields, including theatre director Lee Breuer and visual artist Mary Frank.

The themes in the work include catharsis, issues of dictatorship, repression, loss, the strength of family, and female empowerment; strong themes not only in Sophocles but also in flamenco, all of which Barrio, in particular, is keenly aware of. Her mother’s family lived through the dictatorship of Franco’s Spain, surviving desperate hunger and civil war, yet proved to be far stronger than their male counterparts. Barrio grew up with all of this in her blood and as one of the best artists living today, in any genre, is ideally positioned to embody all of this in her performance. Antigone was the first feminine heroine written for the stage. She was not afraid to show her strength, her pain, and her passion, all attributes that are deep at the heart of flamenco.

Formed in 1993, Noche Flamenca regularly tours around the globe. The mission of the company is to create a diverse theatrical body of performance through song, music, and dance that expresses a rigorous, spellbinding aesthetic in the form of flamenco. It strives to captivate its audiences through its live performances and to evoke in them the vivid and expansive sea of passion and emotion that is flamenco.

Tickets are $10 to $50. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and three hours before show times. For tickets and information, consult the Berkshire Edge Calendar, go to www.mahaiwe.org or call 413.528.0100.

— H.B.

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Humane Society’s Pet Therapy series

Sullivan the Newfoundland will demonstrate pet therapy.
Sullivan the Newfoundland will demonstrate pet therapy.

Pittsfield — Berkshire Medical Center’s Pet Therapy Chairperson and Pet Partners member Terry Cormier will kick off Berkshire Humane Society’s (BHS) 2015 Coffee Hour Speaking Series with a talk on therapy animals on Sunday, January 25, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkshire Health Systems, 214 Barker Road. Cormier will discuss the work of therapy animals, with a specific focus on the pet therapy program at BMC. Cormier and her Newfoundland, Sullivan, will demonstrate a simulated evaluation that a therapy team must pass in order to become a Pet Partner. Audience participation is encouraged.

Upcoming events in the Coffee Hour Speaking Series are “The Psychology of Animal Hoarding” with Dr. Randy Frost on Sunday, February 15 and “Birds of Prey in North America” with Julie Anne Collier on Sunday, March 22.

Engaging conversation and delicious desserts will be provided, as always. Reservations aren’t necessary, but to save a seat and be eligible for a raffle at the end of the afternoon, please call 413-447-7878, ext. 28, or go to BerkshireHumane.org/coffee-hour-registration/. All events are free and supported by the Chervenak-Nunnalle Foundation, Inc.

— H.B.

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Bindlestiff Cirkus winter cabaret to Helsinki Hudson: adults only

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Hudson, N.Y. — Hudson’s own Bindlestiff Family Cirkus continues its wintertime tradition of hosting a monthly cabaret, featuring a variety of circus, theater, comedy and musical entertainers at Club Helsinki Hudson at 405 Columbia Street. There are four shows: its adult-oriented cabaret on the fourth Saturday of each month, kicking off at 9 p.m. on Saturday, January 24, 2015; continuing on Saturday, February 28; and again on Saturday, March 28; plus a Sunday matinee show on March 29 geared to the entire family.

Each month this winter, Bindlestiff Cirkus will bring a new lineup, with acts including trapeze, contortion, acrobatic balance, sword swallowing, juggling, physical comedy, and oddball novelty turns. The Bindlestiff stage is one of the few arenas in the world where attendees may see internationally renowned street performers, featured acts from Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Brothers, and artists from “America’s Got Talent” next to local legends, live, on stage, and in the same show.
Live music is a defining feature of Bindlestiff’s cabaret shows, with witty, original tunes by a variety of NYC’s best composers and accompanists. Bindlestiff’s unique style reflects deep roots in NYC’s underground club scene, nods to political street theater, and a steady respect for the traditions of American popular entertainment and illegitimate theater.

Bindlestiff Family co-founders Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson live in Hudson. Over the last decade, they have hosted a variety of outrageous talent under the Bindlestiff banner. Their personal dedication to the variety arts, circus, vaudeville, sideshow, and burlesque has made the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus famous both among audiences and within the variety performance community.
Unlike Bindlestiff’s family fare at local venues like Bard’s Summerscape Spiegeltent, Bindlestiff’s Winter Cabaret is for grown-ups only. (A family-oriented matinee will be offered on March 29.)
In keeping with Bindlestiff’s clubby NYC roots, the audience is encouraged to dress for festival and be part of the show. Those in costume or circusy makeup can ask for a discounted ticket at the door.

For reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800. For the most up-to-date concert information, visit helsinkihudson.com, write
info@helsinkihudson.com.

— H.B.

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