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Review: Flamenco Within and Beyond a Boundary

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Flamenco dancers tend to be soloists, even when they show off or expose their souls. Confining eight of them within the perimeter (the area taped to the floor) has the essence of a social experiment. How do they share the stage?

This is the concept of “Fronteras” or “Borders”. Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana Debuted at The Joyce Theater on Tuesday. It is necessary to read the program notes to understand that choreographers Jose Maldonado and Karen Lugo are opposed to imposing social and artistic boundaries and want to transcend them. There is none. However, the restrictions they impose on themselves and their fellow cast members are fruitful. This is a very clever balance of flamenco individuals and groups, and a solid entertainment to launch.

In a sense, “Frontera” is a standard flamenco show with standard strengths. In particular, it is the original score of Jose Luis de la Pas, who plays live with fellow guitarist Calvin Hazen, excellent singer Francisco Orozco, and El Trini de Laisla. But that premise (the dancer never leaves the stage) forces an interesting choice. For some time, the dancers split into conflicting gangsters, but soon the show settled into the traditional form of a series of solos or special turns.

Or almost conventional. Each dancer has an identification prop from the trunk of a traditional flamenco item (fan, fringe shawl, cane) and a different flamenco style or song format (jota, granaína) to express his or her personality. increase. Maldonado has a scarf that pulls between his teeth and thighs in a charming, comical and sexy way.Lugo wields a long tail Bata de Cola A skirt with punk energy that turns as much as a dress.

However, this traditional setup has some unusual features. One is that the Maldonado and Lugo turns are in the middle. They are not stars. There are no stars or weak links. The eight dancers are very equal and each attracts attention in a unique way. No one makes a hole in the show. No one will sag it.

Continuity also arises from conceit. During each solo, other dancers stuck on stage regularly echo or extend the soloist’s movements with clever and ingenious group choreography. Often they do it in the spirit of comics. Mocking Emilio Ochand and his castanets before astonishing us with footwork and turning them as fast as fingers, or making a cartoon noise when stylish Adrian Dominguez drops his hat. increase.

The comedy doesn’t laugh out loud, but keeps the tone bright and unpretentious, but Maldonado and Lugo have also succeeded in making serious points. After the solo, the dancer begins to mix your chocolate with my peanut butter style, a clever combination of hat and tambourine, scarf and cane. When they exchange items, Ochando wears a Lugo skirt and crosses gender boundaries.

This mix and trade works so well that it’s confusing when the production bends into a dark glowing section where the dancer places the object on the smiley face.It feels like an excerpt from another show, maybe a preview Momix The sight of coming to Joyce next month.

But, as expected, to their satisfaction, the performers put down the props, pull up the tape, conclude with a dance party, and everyone takes turns supporting and celebrating everyone else. This is the end of most flamenco shows. “Frontera” renews its meaning.

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana

Until Sunday at the Joyce Theater. joyce.org.

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