Flamenco Festival shows it's still on its feet
By Paula Durbin
Friday, Mar. 2, 2012
The good news is that, after downsizing last year to just a weekend, the Flamenco Festival is back at full strength. The season opened Wednesday at Lisner Auditorium with a well-crafted, intensely musical Gala Flamenca headlined by dancers Rafaela Carrasco, Olga Pericet and Carmen Cortes.
As the gala's coordinator, Carrasco deftly melded a dozen disparate works into a seamless flow. She also created some of the evening's most memorable choreographies: "Los peregrinos," featuring a slick trio of men passing a red hat as each moved center stage; her own mesmerizing farruca duet with Jose Luis Lepez's insistent cello; and "Cafe de chinitas," a rhythmic exchange between dueling brothers - part of the dancer's homage to poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca on the 75th anniversary of his death. Credit Carrasco as well for including her troupe's singer, Gema Caballero, and pianist, Pablo Maldonado, in exquisite interpretations of two other popular songs from the repertoire that Lorca compiled.
Pericet is undeniably charismatic and a dazzling technician, but her seguirya barely exploited these attributes. In "Abandolao," which could have done without the hat she removed, she played castanets and flicked a ruffled train with great skill and, when the mood darkened, connected emotionally. Still, one wanted more.
Cortes, a veteran performer and treasured icon, proved the audience favorite. In her single solo, near the end of the program, she glided onto the stage framed spectacularly by a scarlet shawl, seemed almost to falter for a moment and then caught fire, pure flamenco blazing from her percussive footwork and sinuous postures.
After her bows, the entire cast exploded with Cortes in a stunning display of pure virtuosity during the tangos finale to this magnificent concert.
The Flamenco Festival continues with Compania Olga Pericet on Friday, Compania Manuela Carrasco on Saturday and Compania Rafaela Carrasco next Wednesday.