Flamenco usually combines flashiness with delicate intricacy. Compania Talent Danza's "Tango Flamenco" veers sharply toward glossiness, rarely including the long footwork series that give flamenco its percussive base. The Spanish company, making its U.S. debut in Columbia's Festival of the Arts at the Rouse Theatre on Sunday night, peppered its flamenco dance with tango movement, but the fusion of the two styles came primarily where dance and music met.
In the evening's second half, Ensamble Nuevo Tango's soaring accompaniment gave artistic director Antonio Najarro's choreography a sense of pitch and roll.
Najarro relies on flamenco's fluid arm movements, which gain elegance when partnered with tango's slinky legs. In the first half, though, accompanied by flamenco musicians Jarcamora, the absence of traditional flamenco footwork made the constant arm-waving look like mere ornamentation.
The music pointed to the choreography's structural failure: Where the music built, the dance did not follow. In "Ale," a duet for Raquel Lamadrid and Najarro, Lamadrid rolled about the stage in her dress's monstrous silk train. Najarro first disentangled her, then ripped the dress from her body, revealing a lacy slip beneath. Unlike the musicians, the two never found a flow, suddenly going from sensual to violent, never giving either mood time to develop.
Large group sections fared better. Najarro built momentum through formations. Particularly in the finale, "Viejos Aires," the full company clumped together, then expanded as though the same wind gusts that seemed to support their graceful arms propelled them forward.
-- Clare Croft