THERE IS NOTHING like a Dame. Especially one like Spanish dance authority Marina Keet, a Dame of the Grand Order of Queen Isabel of Spain. Honored with this title last year by King Juan Carlos I for her commitment to the preservation of Spain's dance heritage, Keet's lectures, writings, choreography and, especially, her presentation of historic dances for her Spanish Dance Society USA has won her a special place in the hearts of local dance enthusiasts.
This is Keet's 10th year in this city, and a productive decade it has been. Thanks to the powers that be at George Washington University, Keet is currently a lecturer there, her Spanish Dance Society has found a crucial base of support and security and a number of students have taken on the Society's rigorous course of study and gone on to perform with the company. At the same time, Keet has kept up her groundbreaking research both here and abroad, collecting and restaging a formidable array of regional and academic dances that put to rest the notion of the flamenco as the be-all and end-all of Spanish movement.
For its program this weekend at Baird Auditorium, the Society will present a typically wide-ranging mix of classical and popular styles, among them a selection of dances from the escuela Andalucia (Andalusian school); a seguidillas del candil (forerunner of such dances as the bolero); and the zapateado de Maria Cristina, which features the blazing footwork and defiant stomps of the flamenco. As usual, the eight women and four men will be outfitted in authentic, often dazzling costumes. And they will be accompanied by a gifted band of local mandolin, bandurria and guitar players.
Guest artist Michael Lorimer, a virtuoso guitarist who was a protege of Andres Segovia, will also be on hand to perform a section from the Saldivar Codex, a renowned 1532 manuscript which he himself identified in Mexico.
SPANISH DANCE SOCIETY USA -- Saturday at 3 and 7:30 in the National Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium. Call 202/357-3030.