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Flash Review 3, 11-12: Andalucian Fireballs
Symphony Space Bursts with Flamenco Song

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2000 Darrah Carr

Anger, defiance, strength, frustration, loss, longing -- an amazing range of emotions were expressed in the songs and dances of the Flamenco performers at Symphony Space Friday night.The program featured singer La Macanita and dancer Concha Vargas, Gypsy flamencas from Andalucia who are regarded as among the most faithful exponents of flamenco puro. They were joined on-stage by guitarists Diego de Morao and Antonio Moya; male vocalists Curro Fernandez and Antonio de la Malena; and the expert palmeros pair, Gregorio and Chicarito.

La Macanita treated the audience to a complete rendition of the essential styles of flamenco singing, including solea, tientos, tangos, and bulerias, while Concha Vargas opened and closed the program with two impassioned dances. While dance lovers like myself may have been anxious to see more dancing in the program overall, it was nevertheless an inspired and moving performance. The most compelling aspect lay in the performers' powerful stage presence. A single curl of Concha Vargas's wrist, a single penetrating glance she gave the musicians, a single turn that she finished with her head tossed back -- these were captivating moments.

La Macanita, too, had an incredible command of the stage. When she sang, her entire torso, arms, and face reacted so strongly that she seemed ready to spring from her chair. Indeed, at times she would end a song by approaching the audience, standing at the edge of the stage, and gesturing wildly, all while singing as loudly and strongly unaccompanied as she had behind the microphone.

The energy and passion released by Concha Vargas and La Macanita were infectious. By the end of the performance, most of the audience members were on their feet. We then enjoyed several spontaneous finales during which the palmeros pair and the male vocalists demonstrated their own dance talents, executing smooth, graceful, sensuous solos in the midst of a circle of furious palmas.

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