It started with a call for the dance that’s Flamenco in the long drawn out notes of a female voice. Accompanied by the sweet, melodic guitar of Giuliano Modarelli, Jose Agudo, walked quietly across the floor tapping out with blocked heels an echo of the unmistakeable rhythm that’s Flamenco. The world premiere performance of Silk Road had begun, a journey in dance from the influences of Spain to India and back again
Dressed in tight black, Jose Agudo became all masculine attack in the compelling dance choreographed by Rafael Amargo that followed. It was almost impossible to believe Mr Agudo was the same performer in the subsequent Kathak solo when he returned to the stage dressed in white robes this time, spending time winding long strings of small bells around his ankles, a metaphor for the distance of the journey.
Once Jose Agudo was moving again, this time to the beautiful choreography of Nahid Siddiqui, he was all grace and flow. A huge contrast to the flamenco piece, describing his versatility as a performer. There was a gorgeous, poignant moment in this dance when he paused to wonder at the sound of a heated tropical downpour of rain, describing a different home.
After the interval, Jose Agudo and guest artist, Mavin Khoo, danced together. They described through movement the making of silk, from the worms that must die to produce the thread to the weaving of saris. It was fascinating watching the two of them. Flamenco is syncopated, its moves play with the rhythm while Khatak dancers are rigorous about sitting on the beat. By means of the performance of their choreography, the two dancers managed to describe differences between East and West, while often making the same moves. Also finding harmony. It was wonderful and intriguing. What a satisfying dancer to watch is Mavin Khoo, who works with Wayne McGregor and the Akram Khan company as well as being the artistic director of ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble.
There was real regret as Mr Khoo pulled back into the darkness, taking his wonderful dancing away, leaving Jose Agudo alone again as at the beginning of the show but different, describing transformation as the sound of Flamenco returned as a motif. By this point of the evening, I could have sat there all night watching the pair of them dance together.
The lighting by Jackie Shemesh was simple, clever and effective. Tightly top lit at times, powerful cross-beams of light were used at others with darkness employed as deliberate concealment.
The soundscape and music of the evening were extraordinary and lovely. There were just two musicians, drummer, Bernard Schimpelsberger and guitarist, Giuliano Modarelli, also the composers. Recordings of different female sung voices were played to great effect. Mr Schimpelsberger performed as a bridge between the two different dance pieces in the first half the extraordinary Indian conversation of rhythm I have only heard performed by Akram Khan before. Mr Modarelli’s guitar playing was a wonder, which the audience appreciated in their applause at the end of the show.
This is a nuanced, gorgeous, rewarding show.
Review by Marian Kennedy
Seasoned performer and choreographer Jose Agudo, who has worked with Shobana Jeyasingh and Akram Khan, launches his company with an evening of specially commissioned works. Silk Road is both a universal and a personal story of East meets West in the 21st century. In collaboration with the renowned classical Indian dancer Mavin Khoo, Jose Agudo weaves his flamenco roots with a unique, contemporary style.
Lilian Baylis Studio
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
4 & 5 May 2017