Traditional flamenco can be spellbinding to watch. Yet the swirling skirts and polished moves can become repetitive after a while. This unconventional one woman show, What’s Become of You, and part of the London International Mime Festival, literally throws off the shackles of the red flamenco dress to offer us a deconstructed, grittier and ultimately, more rewarding version of the Spanish dance.
Arriving on stage we see the typical flamenco dancer, but there’s something wrong. This one is speaking gibberish and randomly clicking her fingers, her arms forming spasmodic flamenco shapes. Her red dress, too, seems to sit frumpily on her shoulders. But all is to be revealed as her dress becomes the prop for a much more entertaining mime sequence; a funeral hearse, a warrior chieftain.
Two further marvellous scenes transpose flamenco into ordinary situations, dressing it in new clothes. In a portakabin our soloist, Stéphanie Fuster, furiously practises 90 miles per hour flamenco feet rhythms to her critical reflection in the mirror, dressed in masculine khaki trousers and t-shirt. Fuster dedicated herself to perfecting flamenco for eight years and this scene underlined the sweat and tears that must have taken her on that journey. Next, water dramatically oozes like black treacle across the stage. She could now be an office worker, wandered out in her black shift dress to wade in a city fountain. She stomps the ground, the water splashing to create a beautiful and lasting image in our minds.
Refreshing, surprising and often funny, What’s Become of You enables us to really appreciate the dance by unleashing it from its cultural prism. Accompanied by guitarist and singer, transporting us to Spanish rustic landscapes, we nonetheless aren’t cheated of its romance. A fitting note for the London International Mime Festival to end on (this weekend) it is a true celebration of the unusual, the visual and the sublime.