Posts Tagged ‘Sadler’s Wells 2013 Flamenco Festival’

Mini-review – Metafora -Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia at Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival 2013

March 24, 2013

Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia is the perfect beginner’s introduction to Flamenco, and this seemed to be reflected in the matinee audience on Saturday. It was full of schoolchildren and people who hurried to be inside the auditorium on time – the complete antithesis of every other performance I’d been to since the festival started. And, if I fess up, I’d decided for conservative seat in the first balcony way in the back, so obviously I had decided this was not the show to blow the wallet on.

The program started well, with a group of musicians to the back of the stage, and three men dancing in front of them. Then a red veil draping the rear third dropped away, and five women dressed in turquoise long-skirted dresses (“bata de cola”) were revealed, to my joy. They proceeded to the front of the stage and begin to do the magnificent dancing with the shawls whirling and the tails of the skirt being frequently and effortlessly kicked away as they spun around. It’s a hard style to show off your footwork, I think, but it’s really just a joyful spectacle, and I sat there grinning like a loon the whole time. And then the salmon-frocked Pastora Galvan (I think!) came out and showed the young chickies how it was done.

And then … well … I kind of felt like things lost their energy, perhaps because I think Flamenco doesn’t naturally lend itself to being performed in unison by groups. The only memorable things about the rest of teh show, for me, was the handsome solo of Ruben Olmo, skinny as a rail but powerful as hell and looking utterly focused, and then a languorous performance by Rocio Molina, with more of the unusual, angular arm work she’d done during her solo show but with considerable restraint to her personality. Except for a bit of singing, nearly the entire second half of the show was done to canned music, which for me totally killed the feeling, as one of my favorite things about flamenco is the feeling of connection between the singers, the musicians, and the performers – the electricity as they look at each other, trying to anticipate what would happen next – it was totally gone, It was just people doing exactly what they’d rehearsed in the studio, and it had exactly the kind of feeling of electricity and improvisation you’d expect from that. Ah well, I enjoyed the Alegrias section well enough as well as the chance to see so much of Pastora Galvan and once more of Rocio Molina, and, you know, for twelve quid I can’t complain much.

(This review is for the matinee that took place on Saturday, March 23rd 2013 at 2:30 PM. The Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival continues through March 27th.)

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Mini-review – Danzaora – Rocio Molina at Sadler’s Wells 2013 Flamenco Festival

March 20, 2013

My third opportunity to see Rocio Molina perform was an occasion for some thought afterwards. She’s proven her mastery of the techniques; it’s now, clearly, time for her to start demonstrating her abilities as an artist. To that effect, she chose a stripped down set: her, three accompanists, a square pillar with a vase and a goblet; and a small seating area in the back. The focus was really on dancing, and what dancing makes you think about when done well: the way music and footwork interact (her and a glowing tambourine); the body as an instrument (as one of her palmeros added in some much more complicated footwork); the artifice/necessity of accessories in flamenco (hair as a part of a dance; pistachio green versus granny shoes in a “I’ll choose whatever tool I want to suit my dance” style).

Ambition, I think, overtook this show; my experience as a flamenco audience was quickly overwhelmed by my years watching modern dance, which it seems Ms Molina hasn’t acquainted herself with. She was clearly moving flamenco forward from its rather smothering tradition (i.e. Farruquito’s show), achieving brilliance during the flamenca versus palmero section (which had echoes of Indiana Jones’ Nepalese drinking game) and deliciously warping the fabric of space and time during the “dancing to the echoes of my own feet” section at the very end. But as modern dance this show came of childish and half baked, with thin ideas and a reliance on cheese (“I smash the glass beneath my feet!” and “Behold! I shake the bells on my head!”) rather than depth and … well, intelligent modern dance. So I found parts of if it quite painful, but I was still able to accept its failings as the experiments of a choreographer trying to push the limits of what she knows, while hoping that perhaps she might get out and see how much broader a vocabulary and tradition exists than the one she seems to be working with.

My final thoughts were that there seem to be about four types of flamenco performances, which I define as follows: Ye Olde School, hypermasculine and choking on tradition (Farruquito); I Feel Pretty, the tourist tablao, with lots of long skirts and fans rather than excellent dance (Nuevo Ballet Espanol); “This time do it without the scarf” (a Brady Bunch reference), a show which attempts to be “modern” that fail but may feature excellent dancing (tonight); and shows that actually push the art form forward (Israel Galvan, coming up Sunday but my review of his last show here; Paco Pena’s Quimeras). The last is, of course, my favorite kind; but what I enjoy about the Flamenco Festival is that it gives me a chance to see so many different kinds of flamenco performed that I feel like I have had a chance to really get exposed to what is going on in today’s flamenco scene, even from as far away as London. On to the next show (for me) Friday: Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The Flamenco festival continues through March 23rd.)