Mini-review -Quimeras – Paco Peña at Sadler’s Wells

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I cannot remember the last time a dance piece moved me to tears, yet there I was, a few minutes into the first dance section of Quimeras, and my eyes were beginning to flood. The shock? These were tears of joy. This simply never happens (well, not since Crazy for You). But the fusion of African drumming and dancing with the clattering heels, guitars and soul-wrenching singing of flamenco was breaking my soul with too much joy. I couldn’t help but think of a weak attempt to meld ballet, Bach and African drums I’d seen at Pacific Northwest Ballet (by Val Caniparoli) that clashed at itself and set me on edge. This, this swirling of skirts and joyous leaps, arms curving and then flying … They blended together to make something so much more amazing than its parts.

I waited for the initial joy to pass. These choreographed flamenco shows so typically are stale and static except for occasional solos; I expected to be bored and condescended to. But instead, the movement from one tableau to another flowed: a dreamer’s dream manifested as a woman in a glowing white mantón; the black clad Spaniards became everypolice hassling immigrants; it went on. I had another new experience: an interval I welcomed, not to escape, but because it meant there was more yet to come.

We returned to quieter moments as the fate of the dreaming poor and the spoiled first world played out to gorgeous guitar and crisp spins as the flamenqueros showed their stuff: I worried the African dancers would be marginalized. But no: we ended the night in awe of two groups of dancers united by blazing skill and fierce pride and a love of music and movement. I stood and clapped but wanted to dance and sing and see it all right away. Really, it was that good.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012. It continues through December 1st.)

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