Saturday, February 16, 2008

Noche Flamenca

"If we do not relate the brutality, repression, hunger, fear, menace, inferiority, resistance, and secrecy, then we shall not find the reality of cante is a storm of exasperation and grief." --Felix Grande

Instead of actually sleeping last night I went to see a performance of Flamenco music and dancing at the Cutler Majestic. It was quite the spectacle. I've been saying for some time that I wanted to see some kind of performative dance, and I finally got that chance last night. Ye gods and little fishes, what mind-blowing intensity these cats got to. I was overwhelmed by the emotionality of the experience and left to wander the Boston Common in catastrophic windforce not noticing at all because of that wildly beauteous music and dance culture that is known as Flamenco.
They started the performance with a reinterpretation of Henrik Ibsen's play The Lady From The Sea which amazingly encapsulated the difficulties of marriage and sentimental lost love in song and dance. The piece starts with Soledad Barrio, who founded Noche Flamenca with her husband Martin Santangelo, alone on the stage moving only to the sounds of the ocean with prisms of color sweeping across her body. Her movements are much like the sea itself, flowing and powerful. Soon the rest of the troupe joins her, and then there is the drabness of married life, the draw of a lover appearing out of the recesses of the past, and the choice all made live in movement and song.
While the company is made up of three dancers and they generally held the spotlight, the guitarists and singers are just as central to the performance. The frenetic fingerpicking style that is Flamenco guitar work, is just unstoppably awe-inspiring. Miguel Perez Garcia's guitar solo toward the middle of the performance was the unquestionable work of a master craftsman, and his ruthless trilling fingerwork overlaid with such a longingly sad melodic line was something to behold.
And the singing, oh there are no adjectives to describe the tones of ulullating sadness that Manuel Gago and Emilio Florido achieve. The tragic melancholy these men achieve with the mere sound of their voices was heartbreaking work of staggering genius, to cop a line from Dave Eggers (minus the ironic intention). At one point, just before Barrio's solo in the second act I could have sworn I was in Morocco listening to the Muezzin's call to prayer just for the briefest instant. It was all so moving I almost died. Admittedly, I'm highly susceptible to such things, but still...It was all so much beauty.
Just a quick word on the dancing because I'm getting way too formal here; the Flamenco dance style is focused mostly on the use of stomping as a way to create the rythm of the music with flourishes of the hands to accompany, and it was quite something to witness the hypersonic doubletime they achieved simply by stamping around. It was truely wild, and Soledad Barrio was the most. She achieves a synchronicity of flourish and stomp that just blew me away. I can't say enough about how all the way rad these cats are. The audience filled with the shouts of 'ole' throughout, and it was well deserved.

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