Posts Tagged ‘2012 flamenco festival’

Review – Rafael Amargo – Sadler’s Wells 2012 Flamenco Festival

February 18, 2012

With Rafael Amargo the dance segment of the 2012 Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells came to an end. The night was artistically themed: the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca were celebrated in a show called “A Poet in New York.” However, there was no getting away from the fact that the person most truly celebrated this evening was Rafael Amargo. The imagery broadcast on the giant video screens created a great feeling of New York City in the 20s; but for those of us who could not keep up with poetical Spanish, any deeper intimations were missed with the lack of supertitles or any other accomodation for non-Spanish speakers.

Amargo showed us his chops most brilliantly in a ten minute solo (after, I think, “Vuelta a la Ciudad”) in which he was surrounded by his accompanists, whom he commanded with an imperious gesture to inspire him with their singing. Someone got his needs right, apparently, as he finally laid off the peacock-like posing and insistence on seeing himself being the center of attention and actually got excited about dancing. And he smoked the stage, with the brilliant footwork and complete loss of self that to me marks the great dancer. But the rest of the night was polluted with an excess of ego, bad pacing, and some of the naffest pseudo-modern dance I’ve ever seen. The nadir was “Death and Ruin,” a piece in which a woman in a red dress sat on a chair, admired herself in a mirror, did about two dance steps, then rolled herself across the floor in a red scarf while a nearly naked man prowled across the stage, I’d been somewhat prepared by the incredibly bad solo with a woman in a tutu grabbing at giant strips of cloth above her, but this was just laughably bad. And every time Amargo came back on stage, it was all ME ME ME PAY ATTENTION TO ME! A pity, really, as he is a fine dancer but I do think this “having his own company” thing has gone so far to his head that I can’t take him seriously, especially given how bad the choreography frequently was. This was worsened by the horrible pacing, which was extremely masculine in its concept that FAST FAST FAST was all you needed – 100% climax with no build up and a complete lack of thoughtfulness. It was like a 16 year old boy was at the wheel. It needed restructuring and serious cutting: no more tap dancing garden gnomes, no woman treading on her dress’ long skirt, and, frankly, a whole lot less of Amargo standing there with his arms in the air staring at the audience all but saying LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM! I was embarrassed for him. And despite all of the fast banging on stage, I found myself yawning constantly (while my companion actually nodded off). It was an unfortunate end to the festival for me.

(This review is for a performance that took place on February 17th, 2012. It is repeated tonight. Be advised it started nearly 20 minutes late and ran over.)

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Mini-review – Flamenco Gala (Carment Cortes, Rafaela Carrasco, Olga Pericet) – 2012 Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival

February 15, 2012

(Blast, a few days after this event and I’m finding myself having a hard time matching names and performances! – ed.)

This year’s flamenco gala at Sadler’s Wells was quite different than the ones I’ve seen before, as instead of operating as a night of short solo performances done in sequence, it was a much more integrated work that had the three stars performing together as well as alternating throughout the evening, with musical interludes and performances by the various male dancers in between the women’s turns on the stage. The result was a more unified flamenco “show,” but one that had much less of the fireworks than previous nights. Highlights included Olga Pericet (in general), who at one point had so much energy going when dancing with two men that I thought there might be blood on the floor (her feet like nervous laughter – I think the song was “I have three hearts”); a trio of men dancing while passing a red hat between them (each trying to be a little bit better than the other, while still sticking to the basic choreography); and Carmen Cortés’ final dance, which showed the young ‘uns how it was done – her musicality taking her entire body and making up for age’s loss of speed and flexibility. Less pleasant were the two female vocal solos done to piano music, and an odd flamenco-done-to-cello thing that just seemed entirely too forced to be pleasant for me. I was dozy and uninvolved during the various vocal interludes, which is odd as I do like flamenco singing but the soloists in this show were not engaging. Overall, this was an enjoyable night, but had too many gaps to be a memorable one.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Saturday, February 1th, 2012. For an alternate view, please see the Guardian’s review.)