Ballet Flamenco, Wearing Its Heart on Its Feet

Ballet Flamenco Jose Porcel eschewed story lines in its performance on Saturday at George Mason University.
Ballet Flamenco Jose Porcel eschewed story lines in its performance on Saturday at George Mason University. (George Mason University Center For The Arts)

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By Pamela Squires
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 21, 2005

In an innovative creative climate where flamenco coexists with story ballet, Ballet Flamenco Jose Porcel falls on the more conservative side of the artistic spectrum. The exciting four-year-old company performed a pure flamenco program of generic styles (buleria, farruca) Saturday at the George Mason University Center for the Arts.

Yet even this company, which consciously stays away from flamenco fusion and edgy experimentation (men dancing in skirts), is amenable to change, with the traditional singers and guitarists augmented by flute and percussion. The company's strong suit is energy rather than nuance.

There were no stories in this program, just choreographic interpretations of traditional dances, each with a particular mood and character -- from the joyous "Allegrias" quartet to Porcel's passionate and self-possessed solo "Solea por Bulerias," which was largely improvised. Moving through the string of styles, the complement of exceptionally well-trained dancers maintained a crisp technique and remained rhythmically solid.

Porcel, who danced with Compania Espaola de Antonio Marquez before starting up his own troupe four years ago, is tall and large-limbed, able to project across the footlights and connect with the audience. His powerful footwork demands attention.

It was the instrumentation that struck the most discordant note of the evening. The flute overpowered the entire ensemble, its long sweet notes at odds with flamenco's rhythmic guitars and rough voices.

Still, key to this company is the respect it holds for balancing flamenco's three elements of song, music and dance. The company's singers (Monica Mata and Gori Muoz), guitarists (Paco Vidal and Javier Fernandez) and percussionist (Javier Vanduciel) powered the company's feet, heads and hearts.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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