Fuego Flamenco IX festival opens with compelling, collaborative tours de force


Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company. (Lonnie Tague)

“Uno Más Uno,” or “One Plus One,” a world premiere featuring the Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company, opened GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Fuego Flamenco IX festival Friday with the troupe’s signature high polish and a message of harmony. Local flamenco hero Edwin Aparicio, a rock-solid collaborator in the festival since its launch, and co-director Aleksey Kulikov say they drew on their personal lives to craft the work, which brought the diverse talents of eight superb, seasoned performers into balance and made a compelling whole.

The introductory choreography, “El compás,” driven by Behzad Habibzai’s insistent percussion, began with the gorgeous Genevieve Guinn in a brief but memorable solo of lushly sculpted movement, then melded the distinct styles and personalities of Aparicio, Norberto Chamizo and Ana Menéndez into a deeper exploration of line and rhythm. Then Amparo Heredia, a singer with a huge voice and formidable presence, and master guitarist Richard Marlow literally moved to the center-stage spotlight as dancers clapped counterpoint from the shadows or performed off-center.

The excitement emanating after the intermission was rooted in that kind of support and connection. Standouts included the energetic, up-tempo “Puntos de vista” (“Viewpoints”), a triumph of ensemble work bolstered by vocalist Héctor Márquez. And Chamizo’s refined, riveting “Todos para uno y uno para todos” (“All for one and one for all”) was really his take on the caña, flamenco’s deepest and most hauntingly melodic mode.

Aparicio’s layered, solo tour de force “Complementos” incited the cheering, capacity crowd to its feet. So did the finale, “E pluribus unum,” danced to a recording of “Same Love,” a gay anthem and plea for tolerance that rocketed to the top of the charts when “Uno Más Uno” was in rehearsal. What could speak more powerfully to artistic collaboration and teamwork than the generous permission from rappers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to allow the use of their hit in this concert?

An earlier version of this review misspelled Behzad Habibzai’s name.

Durbin is a freelance writer.

Fuego Flamenco IX

continues through Nov. 17
at GALA Hispanic Theatre.

entertainment

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