London’s Flamenco Festival

Rafaela Carrasco in 'Vamos al tiroteo.' We’ve now reached the end of week 1 of Sadlers Wells’ flamenco festival — the annual showcasing of flamenco highlights from ‘real’ professionals in Spain, as opposed to the local versions of flamenco that we London flamencoholics invent on a regular basis. This festival of flamenco has become one of the highlights of the capital’s dance calendar as the blues of winter are annually kept in check by the fire of Spanish dance.

This evening, I have just returned from seeing Rafaela Carrasco’s show ‘Vamos al tiroteo.’ It is without doubt one of the most stylish flamenco shows I have seen in my life,  set dramatically in black, red and white. The simplicity of costumes is set off by an ornate mosaic floor, also in black and white, that appears from a distance like Spanish tiling. The music was deep and rich, especially Gema Caballero’s modulated and perfectly controlled voice  that filled the theatre. Carrasco is unusual amongst flamencos in her very deliberate crossing of boundaries. If the show takes its cue from Lorca’s lyrics and from the songs of La Argentinita (who performed in some of Lorca’s plays), then it also draws innovation and inventiveness from other dance styles, most notably tap and contemporary. Temporal boundaries between past and present melt as the music shifts from the sombre depths of the cello to the rainbow-like notes of the piano, unusual instruments in flamenco, that nevertheless worked perfectly with the guitar. So too do gender boundaries become blurred. In one of the show’s more dramatic pieces, four men dance the sevillanas in silvery skirts with bata de cola… The feminine dress does nothing to diminish the virility of the men: if at all, it enhances it and their dancing is strong, forceful and alive. Throughout, men wear red shoes and at one point dance with a red hat that is passed between them as if it were a lover they shared. Border crossing of this sort translates here into a seamless performance, fluid in the extreme, malleable and changing, but held together by a magical combination of soul and style, like Carrasco’s own supple body.

February 21, 2010 Post Under Flamenco Performance - Read More

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