Uncategorized Flamenco fires up at Fest

Flamenco fires up at Fest

Just before the lights go down, cellist Robert Jeffery worked his bow above his strings, in mimed rehearsal. The implied magic in this gesture set the tone for a beautiful piece of flamenco, punctured not only by the crisp staccato rhythms of sturdy shoes on sprung wooden floors, but also by the characteristic hand, face and body gestures that makes this genre of dance so well loved by so many.

Unlike classical ballet, flamenco, which dates back to the 16th century, offers subversive, sexy edges to its viewer because of its bastardised roots.

Somewhat gypsy, a little Spanish, with a touch of Jewish, and a peppering of Arab, it draws from its hybrid roots, but cleaves to jazz improv traditions, offering hints of the tango while it seduces with diaphanous references to the associated culture that supports bull fights, roses between the teeth and other expressions of raw emotion.

The sheer loveliness of the production, created by 20-year-old Cape Town-based La Rosa Dance Theatre, costumed as it is in blacks and reds and supported by potent yet fairly rudimentary lighting, will bowl you over, but the sexiness of the show becomes tamed by the choreography, rather than allowed to ramble unsolicited through your emotions.

The work is divided into several vignettes, dealing as it promises in its title, with emotion; often the dancers’ facial expressions are blunter than their use of wrist and hip movement.

Dance delights
Highlights include a vignette in which a childhood whimsy slips into darkness. Maria Cortes, a dancer associated with La Rosa since the age of 12, is central protagonist to this short, bold narrative. She’s blindfolded by her female peers.

The party spirals from juvenile and playful to considerably more sinister. When she eventually extricates herself from the imposed blindness, she’s surrounded by masked, hostile men.

In another vignette, Ndumiso Tafeni, a dancer associated four years with the company, mostly as a trainee, holds the stage. And he sets it afire with his beautifully co-ordinated form.

Lyrical performances
All 13 of the performers – eight women and five men – originate from Cape Town. The rich and nuanced voice of Loreán Swartz will rivet you to your seat, as it trills and flows between and around the instrumentation and the music of the dance itself, like a living form.

Ranged with the six musicians seated frontally and alongside one another, on a series of plinths behind the dancers, the production is eminently watchable.

As a whole, Sentimientos is crisp, tight and fabulous – no surprises, just a sound and dignified reflection on the genre.

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