Review – Nuevo Ballet Español – 2010 Flamenco Festival, Sadler’s Wells

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Today my husband and I went to see Nuevo Ballet Español’s “Cambio de Tercio” at Sadler’s Wells as part of our Valentine’s Day celebration. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on going to this show … I had two other things bought for the 2010 Flamenco festival and finances compelled me to keep it tight. However, given the rapacious pricing for dinners out in town, it seemed to me that a nice, back of house seat at Sadler’s Wells would be a lot less financially painful, and I could just make dinner at home afterwards (as it was a 4 PM matinee) and pretend like I’d planned it that way all along.

The evening opened with some good lighting marking two different areas on stage with two men in them getting dressed in what looked like Spanish cowboy clothes. The lights then flashed up to reveal the band on the edges of the stage, and four women in addition to the men (the whole troupe), who, well, of course, danced a bit.

I tend to think of Flamenco as being a dance style that is really more about solos than group work, but Cambio de Terco had lots and lots of mostly unison dancing, especially by the women. In fact, none of the women got solos – well, there was a bit where a woman in a dress covered with roses swirled around a man playing a violin, but the women came off almost strictly as background color. During the dance in which they were wearing long white dresses and whirling red and white shawls around and over themselves, they were truly amazing background color, but overall the effect was too much like a touristic tablao of the sort you might see with dinner in Madrid. The singing, however, was good, and I was quite moved by a solo with the thinner woman and the violinist – I could only understand about a third of what she was saying, but I was having a hard time holding the tears back.

The solo work was where this night had its bright moments (aside from the bit with the shawls). Angel Rojas (I think – from the picture in the program I’m not sure) did a solo in which he stood in front of the two singers and one clapper and started slowly with his heels, encouraging them to sing faster, then slower, getting that really intense jazzy improv thing going on between the musicians and himself that really electrified the stage, until he was really dancing like mad and the whole room was full of energy. Woo!
Then later Carlos Rojas did a dance (to some teeka tintal drumming and, shock!, rap) that at one point had him doing a series of turns on his knees (well on one knee), ending each rotation with a different leg in front. Impressive!

However, for the final dance, the men came on dressed as Spanish house painters (or so it seemed to me as everyone was wearing a white hat), with the women in dresses that had the fronts completely cut away to show their bras, a costuming choice I found revolting. While the colorful skirts were fun, I loathed the women’s outfits, which made their breasts jiggle ridiculously while they stamped their feet. I’ve always seen Flamenco as being such a dignified performance style for women, but it seemed Rojas and Rodriguez were perfectly content to strip that away in order to make a more amusing spectacle. And, hey, it’s not like the women were anymore than background color anyway. In the program notes, it said “Cambio de Tercio” is “a departure from the testosterone-dominated create collaborations of the past,” but I found it had a long way to go to be anything more than a showcase for themselves.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Sunday, February 14th, 2010. February 15th is the last day for this show. The 2010 Flamenco festival continues through February 27th, 2010. Don’t miss it!)

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2 Responses to “Review – Nuevo Ballet Español – 2010 Flamenco Festival, Sadler’s Wells”

  1. Review – Lluvia – Eva Yerbabuena, Sadler’s Wells’ Flamenco Festival 2010 « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] Wells’ Flamenco Festival, was a breath of fresh air after the macho posturings of Nuevo Ballet Espanol. The style was also completely different: it was modern flamenco, with plenty of heel and toe work, […]

  2. Review – Maria Pagés and Company – 2010 Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] Review – Maria Pagés and Company – 2010 Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival By webcowgirl Tonight’s trip to see Maria Pages at Sadler’s Wells has me convinced that there’s almost a deliberate curatorial choice to program better and better groups as the flamenco festival progresses; it was even better than the very fine Eva Yerbabuena a few days ago and leaps away from Nuevo Ballet Espanol. […]

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