The captivating Karen Lugo and Company opened GALA Hispanic Theatre’s Fuego Flamenco VIII on Thursday. Since leaving her native Guadalajara, Mexico, 10 years ago, Lugo has acquired a reputation as a risk-taker, but the risks were decorous in her modern fusion “Flamenco: Territorio Demente,” a play on words that could mean “territory of the mind,” “demented territory” or “exciting territory.”
If Lugo turned tradition on its head in this powerful program, presented in collaboration with Fundación Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas, she did so elegantly and with deep respect.
“Reto,” Lugo’s stunning duet with the marvelously engaging José Maldonado, was a triumph of style and invention. Performed first in complete silence, then to a flamenco-style interpretation on guitar and violin of music by Cuban composer Silvio Rodríguez, this compelling exploration of rhythm called for rapid-fire contouring of arms and body — and impeccable timing — as the dancers wove into and out of a small corner of the stage.
Lugo and Maldonado’s solos, respectively “Guajiras,” another Cuban flavor, and “Alegrías,” were showcases of lyricism, steel balances, finely shaded percussion and great speed. The accomplished musical ensemble included singers Loreto de Diego and Naike Ponce; violinist Victor Guardiana; and guitarists David Durán and Bettina Flater, a Norwegian citizen said to be one of two women playing professionally in Spain. ¡Viva Casa Patas!
Karen Lugo and Company performs at GALA through Sunday. Fuego Flamenco VIII continues Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 at GALA with Flamenco Aparicio Dance Company.
Durbin is a freelance writer.