Part of GALA’s Fuego Flamenco IX festival, ‘Templanza’ is a visual and aural delight

Juan Pelegrín - Isabel Rodriguez.

Local aficionados can count on GALA Hispanic Theatre’s recurring partnership with the Madrid-based conservatory Casa Patas for a glimpse into the creative forces and fresh talent that are shaping contemporary flamenco. Collaboration on Fuego Flamenco IX brought seven young Spanish artists together Thursday in “Templanza” to meld tradition with an updated point of view in a concert that was a visual delight and richly musical.

Director/choreographer José Jurado crafted classic genres into showcases for the rapid-fire footwork and sinuous curves that drove the dancing. He is an elegant performer with a feline smoothness and sense of humor that made the moves he tossed off look easy; partner Isabel Rodríguez — earthy, athletic and a vigorous technician — was a good foil. Their first duets so emphasized individual styling that at times they seemed almost competitive. But that turned around in the “Antaño,” an exquisite, whirling caña featuring a dazzling white shawl that passed between the dancers, which, along with call-and-response footwork, required a more intricate connection and impeccable timing.

Contrails from jet planes passing overhead intersect the National Museum of Art in Washington, Thursday morning, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Jurado was in top form in his solo “Aires de la caleta,” flamenco’s most joyous mode, which he seemed born to dance. Natty in a gray suit, he skimmed the floor, traced filigree with his hand, elongated his torso and exploded into barrages of footwork. Rodríguez’s castanets introduced “De aquí y de allí,” a finale full of charming references to flamenco’s tangled reach into Andalucia and an opportunity for some well-deserved cameos. Truth be told, the energy and emotional power of “Templanza” owed a lot to the five musicians working solo and as an ensemble to create its complex rhythms and shading: bravura guitarists Isaac Nuñoz and David Durán; Diego Villegas, marking his third appearance at GALA with his trademark soaring melodies on saxophone, harmonica and flute; and Matías López and Eva María, who could draw soothing harmony from raw-voiced cante. Credit too should go to lighting designer Jason Cowperthwaite for his essential support. The festival continues through Nov. 17.

Durbin is a freelance writer.

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