A firm feature of every one of Sadler’s Wells annual Flamenco Festivals, this year’s Gala Flamenca assembled a small group of truly outstanding artists: three dancers, three singers, three musicians. And from the moment the powerful voice of singer María Terremoto shook the theatre like the earthquake that gives her her nickname, we were made to feel as if we were eavesdropping on a gipsy feast in a sultry Southern Spanish night.
Terremoto, 19-years-old and the third generation of a family of famed flamenco artists, has the kind of voice that digs deep into your soul, creating that blend of disquiet and yearning that underlies the passionate world of flamenco.
Alternating with her were two veteran male singers, Emilio Florido and Ismael ‘el Bola’; and they were accompanied on guitar by Santiago Lara and Javier Ibáñez, with Paco Vega on percussion.
Of course, it’s the dancing that most in the audience come for and in Mercedez Ruiz, María Moreno and Eduardo Guerrero the Gala Flamenca brought together three exceptional performers, each with an individual style, and none stinting on their long energetic solos.
María Moreno’s style relies not so much on the zapateado, though she can do that, too, but rather on an ever-more intricate interaction with her long flouncy train, and the traditional shawl, or mantón, both made to dance along with her as the musicians egg her on and she casts mischievous looks at the audience.
By contrast Mercedes Ruiz is all ferocious zapateado, a challenge to the traditional male form: ‘anything you can do, I can do better.’ Dressed in black high-waisted tight trousers, at times she seemed to be rolling on wheels as her heels propelled her along the stage stomping at impossible speeds.
Long-limbed, snake-hipped, dark leather-clad Eduardo Guerrero plies his trade in a dense cloud of testosterone: sexy, provocative, zapateado alternating with multiple pirouettes, all punctuated by sudden stops when flicks his long hair and casts knowing looks at the audience.
No wonder we all went crazy.
Gala Flamenca came in marked contrast to Olga Pericet’s show, The Thorn That Wanted to be a Flower, or The Flower That Dreamed of Being a Dancer, which took to the stage at Sadler's Wells the night before (11 July).
Olga Pericet, photo Espina Jerez
Pericet is one of a new generation of flamenco dancers who are looking for ways to move the art form into the 21st century; but although for The Thorn… she employed Carlota Ferrer as Dramaturge and Stage Director, there was a disjointed feeling to the whole enterprise.
An initial comedy section involving a shower of shoes and much stomping around and muttering from Pericet fell flat. In fact, the two moments that stick in the mind are those where Pericet danced traditional flamenco in close communion with her musicians, singers Jerome Segura and Miguel Lavi, and guitarists Antonia Jiménez and José Almarcha.
Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival continues until Sunday, 14 July
|What||Sadler's Wells Gala Flamenca /Olga Pericet|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
11 Jul 19 – 14 Jul 19, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 45 mins approx (no interval)
|Price||£5-£55 (plus booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|