Ever been on a holiday to Spain? Ever been in a nightclub/bar while over there? Ever seen a Flamenco show when there? Even if the answer to the first two questions is ‘yes’ the last one will probably be ‘I thought I had’. Unfortunately, whatever you saw on that holiday probably wasn’t the real thing. If you do want to see the finest rendition of the Andalusian music and dance style then you need to go to Sadler’s Wells for “Flamencura” from the Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company.
Starting on a stage, bare except for a white wall at the back and some chairs, Paco Peña leads his company of musicians (Paco Arriaga, Rafael Montilla and Nacho Lopez), singers (Jose Angel Carmona and Immaculada Rivero) and dancers (Ángel Múño, Charo Espino and Carmen ‘La Telegona’) out for the next two hours and holds the audience spellbound, as they perform some of the most mesmerising music I have ever witnessed. “Flamencura” consists of ten pieces – a mix of solos, duets, ensembles and musical numbers and each one tests the participant’s skills and stamina.
Each piece was superb in its own right and it was really difficult to pick out any one for praise – not that I am going to let that stop me. I had a couple of favourites from the evening, starting with ‘Rondena’ a wonderful guitar solo piece performed by Paco Peña which takes the listener away from the smoke and fumes of everyday Islington to the sun drenched city of Ronda in the district of Malaga.
‘Petenera’ was a piece that told a definite story and matched Ángel Múño, and Carmen ‘La Telegona’ in a dance of such passion and sensuality that when it ended – in an amazing and devastating manner – the atmosphere in the auditorium was absolutely electric and the applause which followed was loud and sustained.
The second act opened with a wonderful piece called ‘Martinete’ which involved the entire company along with guest singer Vimala Rowe and merges the history of Flamenco with the music that emerged among African American population in the Southern States of the USA. The two styles work so well together and really demonstrates the universal nature of music that originates from the same basic circumstances.
My final favourite piece was ‘Solea’ a solo piece for Ángel Múño which was just a pleasure to watch from start to finish. Ángel used every centimetre of the stage and worked beautifully with the guitars and superb singing of Jose Angel Carmona and Immaculada Rivero to keep the audience hooked. At times his feet were moving so fast it looked to me as if he was literally flying across the stage and the audience reaction was ecstatic when he went off. In fact someone was so caught up in the action that as the lights went down a voice cried out “come back on”.
My initial reaction when hearing about this show was pretty negative. I really didn’t think that I would be able to maintain interest in a show that consisted of only one style of dancing. Let’s be honest I can watch 10 minutes of ‘Riverdance’ then switch off completely. However, Flamenco is different. The dancing can be slow, sinuous and extremely sexy one minute and then fast, furious and violent the next. Each movement from fingertips to feet is mesmerising and at no point did my attention wander from the stage as the various pieces were performed. If I have one complaint, and it is really a small one, I would have liked subtitles or some form of translation of the songs. My Spanish is strictly the Costa Del Sol type and the songs sounded so powerful and emotional that I would have loved to have known the story they were telling.
That aside “Flamencura” was an amazing show that redefined my perception of Flamenco and provided a night of truly dazzling entertainment.
Review by Terry Eastham
Review of Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company – Flamencura
The master of flamenco brings a blast of Spain to London this summer, as Paco Peña returns to Sadler’s Wells. A legendary guitarist, composer, dramatist and producer, Peña’s work over the past five decades has dazzled audiences across the globe and earned him exceptional critical acclaim. Making its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells, Flamencura is an electrifying showcase of incredible flamenco talent, featuring a cast of three dancers and six musicians.
Art in all its forms has the ability to transport performer and audience to a mysterious level of emotions; a red-hot status capable of immersing the audience into an indescribable experience. Flamencura celebrates that elusive state through a combination of each performer’s interpretation of the flamenco spirit, leading to a spectacular show you’re unlikely to ever forget.
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
20 – 28 June 2015
Wednesday 24th June 2015