Latin Prima

Click to follow
It's fiesta time once more at Sadler's Wells. Even as we speak ruffles are being starched, trousers tightened and boots re-heeled. And that's just the staff.

Francisco Sanchez Grajera (Paco to his friends) has in the past brought the sensational Cumbre Flamenca to the Wells. From their first visit this troupe consolidated flamenco's place among the great dance traditions. Those who dismissed the form as a tacky hispanic floorshow were won over instantly by the exhilarating spectacle, as virtuoso succeeded virtuoso in an endless parade of masterly footwork. But there was a danger that fickle London audiences might take the classic been-there-done-that attitude and imagine that once you'd seen one top-flight flamenco performance you'd seen them all. This blase assumption is about as daft as thinking that one Premier League football match is pretty much like another. It overlooks the fact that flamenco is not one dance but many. More importantly, no two performers are alike and even individual interpretations can vary in mood and intensity from one show to the next. It is precisely this fluid, free- form element that made the performances of Cumbre Flamenca so exciting. You never knew quite what would happen, you could never predict how many encores you were going to get.

Now Grajera has attempted to harness that spontaneity in a flamenco dance drama to be performed by a troupe of 17 artists. Corazon Flamenco (Flamenco heart) dance a two-part programme: Noche de Santiago tells of a 19th century bride's fall from grace and her subsequent murder by censorious neighbours and Lo Mas Hondo (the deepest) is a duet featuring Manuela Carrasco and Jose Fernandez.

Despite the variety of styles available within the discipline Flamenco's use in the narrative format is inevitably limited to tales with a hot- blooded Latin element. Perhaps as audiences learn more and more about the subtleties of the form less obvious stories can be attempted. La Bella Durmiente (aka Sleeping Beauty) is only a matter of time.

Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1. 0171 713 6000. pounds 5-22.50. 7.30pm, Sats 3pm & 8pm.

Comments