Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company: Solera | Review

Solera is a terrific show presenting an exciting medley of flamenco dance, song and musicianship by nine performers. The second act rises to the sublime on occasions due to the excellence of the performers set off by the creative team’s vision, led by director Jude Kelly. What is shown to the audience as craft in the first act when the performers are located in a workshop scenario becomes elevated to art in the second.

Paco Pena - Solera © Elliott Franks.
Paco Pena – Solera © Elliott Franks.

Paco Pena is world renowned for his playing of flamenco guitar. Among numerous accolades, he has been awarded a Gold Medal in the Arts from the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Now eighty-one years old he miraculously conjures notes as liquid gold. What a pleasure and privilege it is to hear him play. Pena is accomplishedly accompanied by foot-tapping guitarists, Dani de Moronand and Rafael Montilla. Every artist on Pena’s stage gets a turn to be admired for their skills.

The three flamenco dancers bring intriguingly different qualities to the flamenco form. Angel Munoz shows traditional power, precision and strength in his performances while Gabriel Matias is a superb dancer of musicality, grace and sensitivity. For those who are familiar with flamenco, it is fascinating to see the male dance moved forwards in this way while traditions remain maintained. Adriano Bilbao was superb in the second act when the dramatic set enabled an appreciation of the beauty of her poses as well as the fluid movements of her arms and hands. Pasion, which she performed with Angel Munoz is a gorgeous, memorable piece, choreographed by Fernando Romero.

The show is driven by two complementing flamenco voices, the powerful, affecting Ivan Carpio from a renowned family of flamenco singers and Immaculada Rivero who captivates the audience again when she reveals she too can dance.

Special mention should be given to the costumes by Cariola, Linda Rowell and Elvira Perla. In the first act, contemporary clothing is largely worn by the performers. This has the effect of concealment and also describes these very talented individuals as those you might see on the street without knowing that about them. This increases appreciation of the second act when they are fully revealed.

Solera is a show that sends its audience onto the chilly streets of London utterly exhilarated by the talent of this very likeable company. A show to see.

4 stars

Review by Marian Kennedy

What can be created when young flamenco dancers and the expertise of older artists come together? That is exactly what world-renowned flamenco guitarist Paco Peña will show you in Solera.

Enter their rehearsal room as they explore the genre together and then take to the stage with a unique performance that is both quiet and celebratory, soulful and full of life.

Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company: Solera
17 – 20 April 2024

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