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3, 6-10: Balanching Act
Noche Flamenca Fuses Power with Grace to Mine Duende
By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr
NEW YORK -- The dancers of Noche
Flamenca strike a perfect balance of power and grace. Ruffled skirts flare, while
underneath, strong legs pound out extremely complex rhythms. One of flamenco's
true treasures, the company presented an exciting and informative evening at the
New Victory Theater last night. Thoughtful program notes and a broad repertoire
gave the audience a thorough look at the art of flamenco, without turning the
performance into a lecture demonstration. At the same time, flamenco is such a
direct, emotional art that one hardly needs background information to understand
the heart-wrenching wail of the cante or the infectious rhythm of the palmas.
That such a moving communication occurred is testament to the incredible intensity
of the cast and the performers' utter commitment to what they were doing.
Bruno Argenta performed one of the
most impressive dances on the program, "Farruca." Argenta began slowly, prowling
the stage like a tiger preparing to pounce. His arms circled his head and carved
luxurious shapes in the space around him, as if he were drawing energy from the
air. The guitarists incited him to execute a fast rhythmic sequence, which he
completed in a perfect balance on one leg. The choreography was replete with such
beautiful juxtapositions of movement and stillness. Argenta ended a series of
five turns by dropping onto one knee, then jumping over to the other. He finished
a double turn in the air straight as an arrow, on the balls of his feet, and gave
his vest a stylish flick. His heels moved so fast they seemed to blur together,
until he froze in a defiant pose. Best of all, each time he stopped, indicating
it was over and that he couldn't possibly go on, he did. Delightfully, Argenta
came to a supposed ending four or five times, but then kept thrilling the audience
with more taps and more turns.
Noche Flamenca co-founder Soledad
Barrio delivered an equally engaging solo. Unlike Argenta's slow build, Barrio
began hers at a fevered pitch, her heels pounding the floor like a drum roll.
The singers and guitarists entered later and accompanied her exploration of melancholy
and frustration. About halfway through, she stopped in a downstage spotlight,
making a stark picture in her black dress and shawl. Her outstretched hands curled
like sensitive antennae, absorbing the angst of the music and pushing it down
beneath her proud head, defiant shoulders, and arched back. The angst became a
bottled rage that eventually exploded through her feet, bringing thunderous applause
and spontaneous cries of "Ole!" from the audience.
Amplifying the passion throughout
the evening were singers Antonio Vizarraga and Manuel Gago and guitarists Miguel
Perez Garcia and Jesus Torres.
Noche Flamenca runs through Sunday.
For more information, please visit the
New Victory's web site.
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