CAN THIS SWEATER DO ANY BETTER?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If it was possible to overdose on publicity, Joaqun Cortes would be six feet under. Yet here we are giving a few more inches to the diminutive Cordoban. The hype surrounding this talented, but deeply unremarkable, flamenco dancer, is mostly supplied on far glossier paper than this. With Giorgio Armani as his designer and Naomi Campbell for a girlfriend, Cortes is assured of page after page of adoring coverage in women's magazines across Europe.

A glance at posters advertising his British tour of Gipsy Passion might suggest that Fleet Street has greeted him with similar enthusiasm. In fact, few of the kind words quoted have been culled from bona fide reviews. A cursory stir of the ordure piled onto Cortes for his last Albert Hall season will give you some idea of the regard in which he is held by the dance establishment. ''Little of flamenco's eloquent sizzle survives this fractured, underpowered show, which is infinitely more plastic and touristified than anything Cortes claims to be rebelling against,'' said the Telegraph. ''A dancer of modest talent and immodest pretension desperately trying to stretch his artistic resources into a two-hour show designed to rival those of Madonna and Michael Jackson," sneered The Times. "A sweaty young man with a silly beard," sniffed The Independent.

Gipsy Passion has toured internationally since its creation in 1995. Staged like a rock extravaganza, it showcases a stamping and posturing Cortes in a long black skirt beneath a dripping bare chest which glistens horribly in a dramatic spotlight. A dozen identical females in glorious Armani gowns twirl and parade in a depressingly automatic fashion, some indifferent music is heavily amplified and all seems lost until Uncle Christobal Reyes steps up to remind us that there is more to flamenco than a widely advertised ability to tap your feet at speed.

Gipsy Passion is at the Royal Albert Hall (0171-589 8212) 13-16 April, Birmingham Academic (0121-780 4133) 17 April, Glasgow SECC (0141-248 9999) 18 April , Manchester Nynex Arena (0161-930 8000) 22 April and Cardiff International Arena (01222 224488) 23 April

Louise Levene

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