The Festival Cultural Latino was getting off to a slow start two weekends ago on Hinds Plaza. A handful of patrons browsed through tempting foods and crafts from a variety of Latino cultures, provided by local artisans and restaurants.
Suddenly, everyone’s attention turned toward the north end of the plaza, where a crowd had gathered. What had looked like only a smattering of participants moments before soon became a crowd of 100 or more clapping to the rhythms, punctuated by castanets and rapid-fire clacking of shoes on the pavement. All were enjoying the lively, colorful performance — proud dancers in swirling bright dresses, with sweeping scarves and capes — of Lisa Botalico and her Spanish dance students.
Grabbing the spectators’ attention and exciting her students and audiences, in Princeton, throughout the area and beyond, has been a passionate priority for Ms. Botalico for most of her life.
The busy choreographer-dancer-teacher described some of the sources of her inspiration and success, all based on her “unwavering belief that Spanish Dance, especially flamenco, is a celebration of life, and everyone is welcome to celebrate their lives with me! Since flamenco is traditionally a familial and communal dance, my classes are open. Students get used to being watched and are therefore ready to perform for the public. Flamenco can be performed just about anywhere, so we are able to reach out to the public in many forums such as senior centers, outdoor festivals, and private functions. Flamenco simply delights the public!”
The 20 minute demonstration at Festival Cultural Latino epitomized Ms. Botalico’s dynamic dual roles as performer and teacher. A contingent of five young dancers performed the Tanguillo and a dramatic Paso Doble with capes and fans. Dressed in bright red and black with a red rose atop her head, Ms. Botalico, accompanied by adults and children, performed Sevillanas and then a Rumba Flamenca, with Ms. Botalico providing a dramatic climactic solo. more