Flamenco dance combines choreography with improvised solos to a three-part harmony of guitar, singing, and dancing with the rhythm of handclaps, known as palmas, and of the dancers’ step patterns – a dance form coming primarily from southern Spain. Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, Spain’s premier flamenco company, is directed by Rubén Olmo (one of Flamenco´s current stars) and is comprised of 19 dancers, singers, and musicians. Metáfora is a study in contrasts between the classical and folk elements of the dance. I sat giggly and wiggly waiting for Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia’s curtain to rise on Sunday evening performance at the Lisner Auditorium.
Suite Flamenco – the shows first half was magnificently carried by Daniel Jurado and Michele Laccarino (guitar), David Chupete (Percussion), and Cristian Guerrero & Juana Salazar (singers). Cristian and Juana were also liberated from their seats on several occasions throughout the show, and while he sang she also sang and danced, which was a pleasant surprise.
Four superbly trained men started the evening prancing and stomping in front of the raised and visible music section and a draped red curtain. They moved with the potency of stallions in unison. Gradually we were allowed a faint view of what lay behind the red curtain – five beautiful creatures in waiting. The curtain dropped and fervor was let loose with these women who seemingly danced with and against their lingeringly long aquamarine batas de cola and large draped shawls. All credit is due to Eduardo Leal Ruiz’s exquisite costume design. It was quite arresting, but I kept wanting to see the work in their bodies underneath all the ruffles. Through the flurry of fabric, Patricia Guerrero made her entrance and set the stage ablaze as would the endured friction of rubbing two sticks of wood together – so sustained was her power and stamina. In her last dance of the first act, she was dressed in green and her response to the percussion was so innate and full hunger that she seemed a dragon being tamed by the music.
Another piece in the first half, danced by Eduardo Leal and Ana Agraz dressed in all black, was filled with such turmoil and drama albeit any longing, passion, or connection between the two. The slow, slumbering number was excellently executed, but lacked any coherence and left you wondering “ Why all the bravado? Is there supposed to be a story of love lost being told here?“
Ruben Olmo opened the second act of Metáfora within a screen of fog, a bright red vest, and pre-recorded classical-like music. Although the artistic director and choreographer is, no doubt, a triple threat – at times his number (and the second act) was incongruous, inharmonious, and grating. Aspects of the dances felt so far away from Flamenco you didn’t know what was going on, while others were paired with what seemed like other dance genres that didn’t mesh well together, including Pastora Galvins’ solo dance. Two saving graces were Rocio Molina’s impressive solo in the second act and the last two bulerias were amazing.
Everything about the performance – the dancers, the costumes, the choreographer, and the the musicians were strong and beautiful in their own right, except for the confusing second act.
I do wish that the program was clearer on distinguishing the correct performers with their performances. This would have helped in eliminating some of the confusion and any misinformation while trying to write this review. If there is a correction that needs to be made, free to leave a comment with the correct information and my editor will make the change quickly.
Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.
Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia’s Metáfora performed for one night only at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium – 730 21st Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For future events at Lisner, check their calendar.