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Flamenco Bacchanal face off with fancy footwork

Hugh Chow

 

Flamenco Bacchanal

Y-Theatre There are four reasons why I suspect my girlfriend is keen to see Flamenco Bacchanal. They are Pol Vaquero, Isaac de los Reyes, Adrián Santana and Kelian Jiménez. Their publicity shots show the smouldering gaze and emotional intensity of men hand-picked as ambassadors of the Andalusian art form.

"Between the four of them the stage will explode," says organiser Clara Ramona, whose one-off performance this month at the Y-Theatre in Chai Wan promises to showcase some of the best international and local dancers.

Vaquero, De los Reyes, Santana and Jiménez, who are all based in Spain, are among the most exciting dancers in the flamenco world today.

Fans in Hong Kong will be treated to a powerful exhibition of "raw" and "authentic" flamenco from the quartet, says Ramona, the only female soloist.

The swagger and posturing of male dancers in flamenco is part of the spectacle. The men typically perform faster and more powerful footwork and incorporate lightning turns into routines, says Ramona.

Then just when you think testosterone levels onstage have peaked, the guys will slug it out in a steamy dance-off. Flamenco is built around the compás, or rhythm, whether through clapping, played on a simple wooden surface, or marked with precise percussive footwork. The dancers will combine their own signature moves with improvisation in a test of fancy footwork and showmanship.

"It's a challenge in rhythm: what's your version of the steps?" explains Ramona, on the conventions of the face-off. "If all four are flying that night, then something special will happen."

Flamenco, which originated in southern Spain in the 18th century, has won a loyal following here. Based on anecdotal evidence from enrolment at classes, lessons have been especially popular with women.

The show will also feature a series of performances, based on traditional and contemporary choreography, showcasing the talents of some 27 locally based dancers.

"They come from all walks of life, but they are all dedicated to flamenco," says Ramona, who has taught many of them. Some of the Hong Kong-based performers have been training for 10 years, and some attend seven classes a week.

"Flamenco dancers are like wine and improve with age," she says. Younger performers may be physically stronger, but experienced artists bring expression and interpretation to a performance.

Ramona, who spent 15 years running and performing in her own dance company in Madrid, has taught flamenco in the Asia-Pacific region since the late 1990s.

Flamenco Bacchanal serves as a window into one of the world's most expressive dance styles, she says.

Y-Theatre, Youth Square, 238 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan. June 14, 8pm, HK$300. Inquiries: 2111 5999

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