The Spirit of Spain

Cadiz - Flamenco Edition

Elmshurst School for Dance

****

UNLIKE many other Dance forms which through staging or choreography can seem contemporary, Flamenco still conjures a romantic connection to its 17th Century Andalucían roots.

It is possible that the only time someone in the UK might have encountered Flamenco would be during an excursion on a package holiday to mainland Spain or one of its islands.

That’s about to change if Ana Garcia has her way. After 20 years working as dancer, teacher and choreographer of Flamenco she has launched Flamenco Edition, a new company that plans to bring this highly passionate dance form to new audiences across the UK.

 The inaugural performance took place in the intimate theatre space at the Elmhurst School for Dance. This one off, specially commissioned piece by  Jesús Fernández is his personal view of the 3000 year old city of Cadiz and his Andalusian heritage. It features Fernández performing original choreography accompanied by four additional artists all from Cádiz. 

The opening Jesús Fernándezguitar of Jesús Núñez sounded warm and typically Spanish but then punctuated by heavy thunderbolt sound effects it was clear from the outset this was to be an aggressive performance. Joined then by Israel Mera on Percussion and Anabel Moreno,  Palmas (Handclaps ) the entire performance took on a dynamic precision that had the knowledgeable audience calling out after every complex move. 

Once the quartet was joined by Vocalist David Vázquez he seemed to become a central point for Fernández who challenged him at several points to a sort of song versus dance duel.

 

Jesús Fernández

 

As someone who has not seen a lot of Flamenco I felt that at times it was a display of brilliant technique rather than an engaging piece and struggled to see what each section or Palos was entirely about. Cadiz overall is a very masculine performance danced here often in a blackened stage with dramatic pools of light and side lighting creating long shadows so there is little colour within this personal work.

There was an impressive precision between the complex rhythms in sound created by the percussive elements and the heels of Fernández into the sudden dead stops to silence.

The sheer energy of his performance clearly left Fernández exhausted and dripping with perspiration and he had to exit the stage for a complete change of costume and no doubt to recover several times. When this happened his absence was covered with songs but as they were sung in a foreign language it was hard to gain any benefit of their contribution to the meaning of the piece.

For me the most engaging part followed the final curtain call whereby the troupe dropped back to deliver an impromptu final number and percussionist Israel Mera stepped forward to present a few steps of his own much to the delight of the cast and audience. Then too did Anabel Moreno, who is clearly a capable dancer, and dressed in a long traditional Spanish dress, injected a much welcome feminine element that was missing from the evening.

As an inaugural performance by a new company, set on bringing these Andalucían flavours and the Spirit of Flamenco to a wider UK audience, then it is the atmosphere of these last few minutes where there seemed a greater emphasis of participative enjoyment and romance and less on the aggressive and masculine technicalities of Flamenco that will surely do it.

Jeff Grant

20-06-14

Contents page Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre