Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York

By Agustín Laó-Montes; Arlene Dávila | Go to book overview
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Taking “Class” Into Account
Dance, the Studio, and Latino Culture
Karen Backstein*

I walked into Clark Center for the first time, and at the sign-in desk I immediately ran into a friend I hadn't seen in awhile.

“What class are you taking?” she asked.

“Loremil Machado's.”

Loremil's?” The note of surprise in her voice was unmistakable.

“Have you ever done an African-based dance class before?”

“No,” I said, suddenly feeling a bit nervous, wondering what I was in for.

She chuckled. “Well, you'd better warm up!”

“Uma Rua Chamada Brasil,” samba enredo in honor of New York's “Little Brazil” by Império Serrano, Carnaval 1999

I found myself irresistibly drawn to Clark Center after seeing Brazilian dancer/ choreographer Loremil Machado perform in a free outdoor concert at Lincoln Center. Inside the white buildings, entered only with high-priced tickets, was the ballet I'd loved since childhood, with mostly adult spectators sitting silently until the proper moment came to applaud. Outside, in the sunshine, samba, the orixas, and capoeira; lots of children; gleeful shouting; and movement rippling through an audience thoroughly enraptured by Loremil's puckishness, energy, and acrobatics. Then I overheard someone behind me make a comment about Loremil teaching a class, and when I spotted him later on the plaza, I ran over to get a schedule.

Em memória do meus caros amigos brasileiros: Loremil, que me ensinou a sambar, e querido Arlindo, meu parceiro favorito. I will forever miss your fleeting steps, thrilling and invigorating music, and glorious presences. And to Robert Stam—without your abiding and infectious love for Brazil, none of this would have happened.


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Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York
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