Monday, June 11, 2007

Noche Flamenca - Aldaba - June 10, 2007

Before seeing the amazing Noche Flamenca my view of Flamenco had always been that it was an intense, beautiful art form - but extremely serious. It's nice to have my horizons expanded. Noche Flamenca is everything you might expect from a traditional Flamenco presentation - with just a little more.

My Spanish is very limited, so I only got some of the lyrics sung by Manuel Gago and José Anillo. But while you might miss the finer points, as I did, you don't need to understand Spanish to understand the emotions. The combination of dance, music and song are what immerse you, catch you up and take you places that hit your core. The choreography is perfection - not a single moment feels rehearsed or expected. It is as if everything is happening for the first time, sprung from pure emotion.

The first piece of the program, El Camino, introduces us to the entire company seated together as if they are just jamming at home and you feel at home. It's a party! It's a wonderful way to start the show. Each of the members take a few moments to show their stuff and of these my favorite was the delightful Elena Martín dressed in a fabulous red dress with white polka dots. Her movements were serious, then sensual and in the end simply sassy. She fairly brought the house down and proved there is humor in Flamenco for sure.

Solea por Bulerias let's Alfonso Losa show off his amazing frenetic footwork. His style is like watching a man possessed. His body seems to be moving on it's own and his expression is often one of surprise that he is being brought along for this amazing ride. It's as if the story of The Red Shoes is coming true before our eyes.

The charming piece Se Me Va begins with a quiet guitar solo by Miguel Perez before the closed curtains. Clearly this is a solemn song of love lost and regret, but then he is joined by singer José Anillo and things begin to lighten up a bit as pairs of clapping hands poke through the curtains and join the singer and the charming Vanesa Coloma as she dances, her expressions varying from disdain to shocked amusement.

The first act ends on an impossibly high note with Siguiriya showing off the astounding technical skill combined with raw emotion and ebullient stage presence of guest artist Alejandro Granados. The piece begins slowly, building to a crescendo of amazing physical control and complicated foot work that had the audience cheering wildly. His performance alone is worth the price of admission, but Noche Flamenco offers so much more!

Act Two again begins with the entire company. Quebrada a far more solemn start than Act One, and here we get to see not only the company but the wildly talented Soledad Barrio as she gives us a hint of what she can do. There is a moment in this piece where the three women twirl around each other, holding the precise poses and showing the tremendous control necessary for Flamenco that is so beautiful you wish it would simply go on and on.

The dancers get a break during the Solo de Guitarra which was performed by Chuscales. I can honestly say I was transported. You could hear a pin drop as the audience, formerly raucous in their vocal appreciation of the craft onstage sat in rapt attention to this gorgeous music. I can only assume we were all mesmerized. A man, a guitar and nothing more: and it was heaven.

And finally we have Solea. Soledad Barrio's solo piece. As with all the dance it begins low and builds. I wish I had words that could describe what she did. Again I must comment on the sheer level of physical control necessary to dance Flamenco and Ms. Barrio clearly has not only that control but an artistic fire of emotion that swept the audience to their feet even before the piece was done! I am rarely one to jump to a standing ovation - but I was one of the first ones up for this one. I was struck with how modest and delighted the performers were by this response. They seemed truly surprised and it was a sweet ending to a most fiery show.

Noche Flamenca is an experience not to be missed.

Noche Flamenca
Theater 80
80 St. Mark's Place
New York, NY 10003
Through July 29

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