Australian Dance Reviews

Flamenco Cabaret – Studio Flamenco

The Soul Box, Adelaide
June 8, 2014

By Jo McDonald of Dance Informa.

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening on a long weekend in winter.  I’m talking about enjoying the intimacy of Soul Box in Adelaide for a Flamenco Cabaret.  Presented by Studio Flamenco as part of the annual Cabaret Fringe Festival, the performance treated its audience to the full spectrum of flamenco forms of expression, including toque (guitar), cante (song) and baile (dance).

There is potential for an evening of dance in one style to seem repetitive, but the work presented by Studio Flamenco was rich and varied.  It opened with a duo by guitarist Kris Iwanuik and percussionist Adrian van Nunen, and proceeded through an escalating series of songs featuring the passionate vocals of Zoe Velez and the proud bearing of the four dancers, that so effectively channelled the spirit of the dance form.  I particularly enjoyed the Jaleo (roughly translated – ‘hell-raising’) of the cast as they clapped, stomped their feet, and called to each other in exuberant enthusiasm.  Singer Zoe Velez was particularly adept at this, and in fact, her zest and charisma added greatly to the authenticity of the evening.

The energy of the performance ebbed and flowed.  At times the gentle rain of the flamenco guitar flowed over the audience, at other times, the audience was vibrating in their chests from the rhythms of dancers’ feet and castanets.  One of the most spectacular pieces of the evening featured three dancers, each with a different prop.  I was mesmerised by the sweep of the shawl, which conjured images of a bird in flight, and fascinated with the insinuation of the fan (el abanico) which fluttered and snapped at high speed by dancer Sugika Nishieu, and hypnotized by the polyrhythms of the castanets.

It is unfortunate that the small size and low stage of Soul Box meant it was not possible to see the dancers’ feet.  When Suzi Masi opened the dance component of the evening, I was desperate to see what her feet were doing, but I was suitably captivated by the rhythms of her shoes and the beauty of her braceo – arm movements and positions, and the proud alignment of her torso.

Flamenco Cabaret was a delightful glimpse into what it must be like in the gypsy barrios of Seville or Granada.  Passionate, dramatic and highly entertaining.

Photo (top): Flamenco Cabaret. Photo by Matt Walker Photography.

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