Gala Flamenca At Sadler’s Wells: Nureyevs Of The Flamenco World

The final component of Sadler’s Wells’ Flamenco Festival London, Gala Flamenca brings together celebrated performers to showcase both traditional and contemporary flamenco. The five dancers – Antonio Canales, Carlos Rodríguez, Belén López, Jesús Carmona and Sol Picó – vary in age and style. At one end of the spectrum, Carmona displays the Spanish dance at its most classical; at the other, Picó performs a routine that seems to bear no resemblance to flamenco, rolling around the floor and then jumping up to reveal red pointe shoes.

Though the show is rough around the edges, the skills of the performers are unquestionable. We were reliably informed that the older dancers represented the “Nureyevs of the flamenco world” and are metaphorically ‘passing the torch’ to the next generation. In any case, they all have remarkable skill; López, in particular, has the most exquisitely detailed and rapid footwork.

Live flamenco music is performed onstage, though at a truly deafening volume. Singers provide the characteristically throaty flamenco sounds with excellence, but their voices are piercing to all but the most attuned ear.

The dancing itself is similarly hard to appreciate. For non-flamenco aficionados, even the performers’ impressive talents are unlikely to make up for the repetitiveness of the show.

The Flamenco Festival London attracts a different crowd to Sadler’s Wells’ usual visitors. The familiar ‘turn off your mobile phone and don’t take pictures’ announcement is relayed in both Spanish and English and audience members frequently call out “olé!” during the performance. As López captivates the stage, there is even an enthusiastic shout of “flamenca guapa” from the stalls. This is clearly beautiful flamenco, but it takes a real flamenco lover to value it.

Gala Flamenca is at Sadler’s Wells tonight and tomorrow. Tickets priced £12-40 are available from the Sadler’s Wells websitePictured: Belén López / Photo by Bernardo Doral. Londonist received a complimentary ticket to this performance.

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LauraDodge

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  • David

    Most of this performance I much enjoyed. However: However skilled Picó is as a modern dancer, I found the performance grotesque, and un-flamenco. I realise that flamenco shows at Sadler’s Wells will be ‘commercial/theatrical’, rather than flamenco at a private party or village peña, but the violin doesn’t have a place in flamenco in my opinion; and I know that the cajón has ‘become’ part of flamenco since the late 1970s, but drum kits? — no. But I hate the compulsion to use the cajón as a driving force, sometimes bordering on the thump, thump, thump for other forms of music. Personally — and with no disrespect meant to the cajón player— the palmas and guitars would have been enough for the Tangos. Flamenco already has its own forms of percussion, and they have and should provide it: guitar sorda, palmas, castanets, golpe on the guitar and a golpe on the table — surely that’s enough. The dancing by Canales, Rodríguez, López, and Carmona was superb. It showed both frenzied control, and also some less showy, slower, beautiful movements. Why does the review not name the singers or the guitarists? They provided excellent measures of real flamenco too — to sing, as is the essence and root of flamenco, and to accompany, an essential part of flamenco!