Review: Alba Flamenca ****

Alba Flamenca

Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus

Alba Flamenca

Aug 20th-26th  

Times vary

**** 4 Stars

The show takes its name from the venue in which it is based – a dance studio with an attached Spanish restaurant and bar. Its atmosphere is cozy and intimate, and the room is packed on a Sunday afternoon. Performers emerge from the back of the audience resplendent in traditional Andalucian dress and take the stage together. The two dancers are Aroa Paredes and Gabi Pouso, while the two singers are Danielo Olivera and Inma Montero, with Pedro Morote and Dani Martinez accompanying them on cajon and guitar, respectively.

Aroa and Gabi dazzle with expertise and pizzazz. They dance with their entire bodies – heads to toes, swishy skirts to decisive facial expressions, and where every finger seems to have a life of its own. Each dancer takes a turn dancing, resting, then dancing again, donning different costumes for the second dances, which are somehow even more energetic than the first. I prefer the second renditions of both dancers, especially Gabi’s, which begins with her sweetly handing keepsakes to audience members and develops into controlled delirium.

Danielo and Inma are gifted singers with amazing range. Their intense love for all things flamenco is confirmed by the conviction with which they sing. Meanwhile Pedro and Dani skilfully contribute to the medley, adding complex beats to the ladies’ rhythmic clapping. I would have preferred more focus on the guitar personally, as the sporadic solos hinted at Dani’s extraordinary expertise. Nonetheless, the musicians and dancers transmit their culture with warmth and zeal, their laments combining with soaring jubilations to paint a red and black landscape of the passions and sorrows of family life.

The style of music and dance demands a pride which is short of arrogance, and instead involves a circular kind of support among performers. They seem very much like a family, with the audience treated as welcome guests at their house. It is refreshing to find performers so in synch with each other that the overall tone is agreeable and complementary, with their smiles genuine and relaxed. I would gladly return for another performance by Alba Flamenca, either within or outwith the Fringe, or perhaps even for a dance lesson!

Review by Joanne Harrison