Dance slider — 13 May 2014

Suite Flamenca photoby

Kelly Acheson

 The Antonio Gades Company, Spain’s premier flamenco troupe, brings Bodas de Sangre y Suite Flamenca to life at Santiago’s Teatro Municipal de las Condes from May 9th through the 18th.   The performance, divided in two parts, is punctuated by the sounds of thrumming guitars, rhythmic clapping, and the deep, guttural singing of el cante jondo, the traditional vocal style of Andalusia.

The first act, lasting a solid forty minutes, is the flamenco version of Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s Bodas de Sangre, a tragic love story set in pre-Civil War Andalusia. With no scenery and a simple black backdrop providing an austere setting, the viewer’s focus is drawn to the dancers’ lyrical movements and impassioned facial expressions. Despite the fact that there is no spoken dialogue, the dancers effectively convey a sense of boding tragedy throughout the piece, climaxing in a dramatic, slow motion fight scene in which the two male protagonists lunge, swirl and jab their knives at each other in piercing silence. The performance highlights the power of dance as an autonomous language, capable not only of eliciting emotions, but also carrying a storyline.

The second act, in sharp contrast to the first, is a lively, fast-moving suite consisting of seven short flamenco numbers. The first number opens on a strong note with male dancers Miguel Angel Rojas and Jacob Guerrero, clad in bright red matador costumes, stomping precisely in rhythm, their carriage evoking the traditional bullfighter stance of erect posture, shoulders back and chests forward. The subsequent numbers explore the traditional flamenco form through a series of duets, solos, and group dances, ending with the rollicking Rumba piece incorporating the entire troupe, the female dancers waving castanets as the male dancers clap in rhythm and stomp in sharp, precise movements. The Antonio Gades Company is renowned as a dance troupe that intermingles various generations, in order to maintain the company’s traditional roots, and nowhere is this generational contrast more prominently on display than in the Tango de Málaga duet, where fifty-year-old Stella Arauzo, the Artistic Director and a principal dancer, moves gracefully alongside thirty-one-year-old Miguel Lara.

The highlight of the Antonio Gades Company’s performance is far and away the Suite Flamenca, a colorful, proud, and enthusiastic display of flamenco at its finest. If Bodas de Sangre, with its bleak and foreboding plot of doomed lovers, starts off at a slow-moving pace, the performance picks up speed and intensity during Suite Flamenca, and ends in a flurry of sweeping arms, rapid-fire footwork, and finger snapping. According to Antonio Gades, “dancing is not in the step, but what is between the steps.” The confidence, emotion, and passion that come across in Suite Flamenca are exactly in line with Gades’ vision of what dance should be.

Ticket prices begin at $30.000 CLP. The show is at Teatro Municipal de las Condes (Avenida Apoquindo 3300, Las Condes, Santiago) until May 18th. Additional information can be found at the Teatro Municipal de Las Condes website.SONY DSC

 

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