DANCE: Spanish steps

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Sadler's Wells' new home might seem like a charmless hole, but the quality of artists on show remains excellent. And it's still the only place in London to host top-quality flamenco

It wasn't the most promising of venues. Sadler's Wells Theatre moved from an ugly, charmless hole in Islington to what seemed an ugly, charmless hole in what an estate agent would call Covent Garden, but which any Londoner would know as Holborn. The Peacock is on the site of the old London Opera House built in 1911, a huge 2,600-seater knocked down in 1960 and replaced by the current building, the Royalty Theatre. Until recently it was a lecture hall for the London School of Economics, but Sadler's Wells acquired it and renamed it last year as a temporary home while their new Islington theatre was built. It's hardly one of London's jewel boxes, indeed it has a curiously subterranean air. But once the lights go down the Peacock's wide stage and democratic sightlines come into their own. Particularly as the artists on show are usually well-chosen and often excellent.

In the last 12 months, we've seen Tango Por Dos, La La La Human Steps, Antonio Gades's Carmen and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. This week, there's a return visit by the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco Pena with a show justly entitled Arte Y Pasion (right), featuring the remarkable young talents of Angle Munoz and Charo Espino. The Peacock, like the old Sadler's Wells before it, is the only place in London hosting large scale, top-quality flamenco, and repeat seasons by the same acts suggest that there is a consistent market for the rhythms of Andalusia. Francisco Sanchez, whose flair for flamenco production peaked with Cumbre Flamenca (literally: the summit of flamenco), enjoyed a brief and disastrous flirtation with dance drama, but has now returned to the traditional cuadro and we can see it for ourselves next spring when his latest company Campanas Flamencas come to the Peacock for an entire month.

Paco Pena, Peacock Theatre London WC2 18-22 Nov; Campanas Flamencas 3 Feb-8 March (0171-314 8800)

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