Is it a flamenco show? Not in the sense that you might expect, though there's no lack of flouncy costumes, fantastic fandangos and stomping bulerias in Venezuela Viva. Las Lizarraga, from Venezuela, presents a hybrid Arab-influenced, Spanish-style dance, with the added spice of the sub-Saharan culture of this Caribbean country.
What distinguishes these zesty zapateos and energetic twists, turns and taps is their context as one element of a travelogue, with background projections of maps, engravings, sepia photos and colourful images of Caracas, the city that gave birth to salsa. A band provides a brash instrumental and vocal soundscape, incorporating Afro-Venezuelan drumming and splashes of pseudo-Renaissance, classical, gypsy and folk rhythms.
From 1492 to the present day, the pictures, with voiceover, spin through 19 short scenes, journeying across continents and centuries, charting a history of wars, conquests and discoveries until the separate strands merge as one. The 15th-century Sevillian court gives way to treks across plains, elegant cityscapes, the rushing Orinoco, turbulent seas and sultry urban nightlife.
Each stage is portrayed in vivid choreography, danced with equal measures of grace and exuberance by the 12-woman company. As the show ends, you just want to jump on the next plane to Venezuela.
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