olga 

Sin Título

Olga Pericet’s Company featuring Jesús Fernández 

International Dance Festival Birmingham

The Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

There is something truly romantic about the opening moments of a Flemenco dance.

The sounds of classical guitars instantly signals a connection to Spain or some other hot country.

Add the dissonant Latin strains of two male vocals, and frame them all under pools of light on a black stage, and the scene is set for the entrance Olga Pericet.

Snaking her way onto stage dressed in her tight black Matador-style suit and white bolero, the only colour present now is her ruby lipstick. She stands proudly under an overhead light shade and so now, with all the players in position in their sharp black suits and white shirts, we are ready to begin.

For her diminuitive size Olga Pericet certainly fills the stage with her power and energy. After the opening musical piece she is accompanied by just the a capella vocals of Manuel Gago and Miguel Lavis in the song Granaina.

Using foot stamps and syncopated hand clapping while Olga adds the delicate precision of invisible castanets, they all create a complex hypnotic rythmn for her to dance.

As the performance continues you feel a sense of sexuality as sometimes she is encouraged to dance for what appears to be the four men, and then at other times it is Olga who seems to be in control, approaching each of them and teasing with her poses, enticing them to her.

There are actually not four men but three as one of the guitarists is Ms Antonia Jimenez, the other Pino Losada.

What makes the evening easily bearable is the relief from the intensity of the singing and dance with several solo guitar performances. Antonia’s playing is subtle and complex and for much of the time she is lost in her performance, oblivious it seems to the audience. Losada’s pieces are technically amazing. His Flemenco style permeates his playing with strength and aggression even during the speedy arpeggios he creates. The solo sections added real value to the evening and segued perfectly into another dance that created a cohesive flow to the 10 scenes of the performance.

Supporting in the dance arena is guest artist Jesus Fernandez. Beginning often with a series of proud physical gestures he then enters into some blisteringly quick foot work. Joined then by Olga the six players enter what was probably the most fluid section of the performance when everyone seemed lost in the energy of the music and dance.

This is in contrast to some of Olgas more theatrical sections, which are devised more for audience reaction. One section she appears in a red, multi-layered dress and use it create doll like or coquettish characters as she dances. It is, however, the moments when the ensemble is in full flow, with a more casual and gypsy-like attitude, and when everything seems improvised that are the most memorable.

The precision of the dance, competent guitar playing, pounding rhythms and almost chant like male vocals are quite mesmerizing when they reach full fever pitch. It seems chaotic but when everything is suddenly punctuated with coordinated rhythmical pauses and breaks you know ever one is in the zone and that it is a well-rehearsed and performed experience.

Unlike other forms of dance, Flemenco has an obvious lineage to some far of distant geographical place and time. Olga Pericet Company certainly create an experience that takes you to back to there, to some imagined place of passion and heat, as that’s exactly what you feel is emanating from the stage and from within her performance. To 18-05-16

Jeff Grant

17-05-16

IDFB

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