Solera is Paco Peña’s latest show. Like its predecessors, it seeks to put across the essential qualities of flamenco and the region of Andalucia where it was born. Flamenco is not a written tradition, but one handed down from one generation to another, always looking to find new ways to express its essence.
That’s why Paco Peña chose Solera as a title for this show. The term is borrowed from the wine-making process, another fine Andalucian tradition: the wines are produced in a system that stacks oak barrels in several layers. Young wine enters the highest barrel and, given time, flows down nurturing its best qualities until what remains is a delicious wine that can only be achieved with age. The mature 'solera' of the older generations enriches and refines the best qualities handed down to the young.
Once you know that, you understand how the near octogenarian Paco Peña produces guitar music that sounds so traditional and yet so fresh, and whose virtuosity remains entirely bewitching. His company includes two younger guitarists, Dani de Morón, with whom Paco plays a couple of entrancing duets, and Rafael Montilla, who hails from a flamenco family. There’s also a percussionist, Julio Alcocer, whose duels with the machine-gun fire of the dancers’ 'zapateado' redefine the meaning of exciting.
The dancers, too, cross the generations: Angel Muñoz brings the masculine solidity, defiant stance and humour of the traditional bailaor; Adriana Bilbao with her serpentine arms and fierce zapateado combines impeccable traditional training with the younger generation’s search for new ideas; and the young, elfin Brazilian Gabriel Matías proves you don’t have to be born in Andalucia or even in Spain to embody the very best qualities of flamenco.
Two singers combine generations: the veteran Inmaculada Rivero and Iván Carpio, who's in his mid-thirties, filled Sadler’s Wells with the deep, powerful voices that carry within centuries of history and the soul of a people.
The show is divided into two parts. The first is set in a rehearsal studio, where dancers and musicians in relaxed clothes engage in what appears to be a fun jamming session, egging each other on to ever more intricate performances. They bring a patina of spontaneity to Fernando Romero’s choreography.
In the second half we’re out of the rehearsal studio and on stage for a performance, the artists wearing more formal, yet still simple costumes, and each given solo opportunities, as well as ensemble work.
They say that a fulfilled flamenco performance is one that invites in ‘duende,’ an ineffable presence that manifests itself when performers and audience achieve a state of perfect communion. And ‘duende’ certainly descended upon Sadler’s Wells during Gabriel Matías’s Act 2 solo, a breathtaking dance of simultaneous control and abandonment, as if he’d moved onto a different plane and taken us with him.
What more could you ask for?
|What||Paco Peña, Solera review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
20 Apr 22 – 24 Apr 22, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30 Sun at 16:00 only Dur.: two hours 30 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|