India Flamenco (Alba Flamenca, 7 -31 Aug : 18.15 : 1hr)

“A sensual evocation of the gypsy tradition through dance”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

The performance begins with a narrative delivered from off stage set to the music of the sitar. We, the audience, are told of the legacy of a dying Gypsy chief in Northern India where the peoples began. He charges the tribe to roam the world with the aid of a magic mirror which will guide them, in order to spread the message of the Gypsies – to live in happiness and harmony with respect for each other and nature.

The dance begins with the traditional ‘Bharata Natyam’ performed by a young Indian woman full of grace, energy and control. As the narrative progresses she hands the metaphorical baton to a belly dancer and leaves the stage, showing how the movement has spread to Africa. Through this sensuous, sinuous and lithe new dancer and energetic choreography we are shown the development of movement, music and the evolution of culture across continents.

Finally the stage is taken by a fiercely passionate Spanish woman who, along with a Flamenco guitarist and singer, performs a traditional Latin dance of great power and beauty. Each of the three dances is linked by distinctive movements of the wrist and percussive elements made either by castanets or Indian ankle bells.

The journey is completed as the three dancers come together to bring this memorable performance to a close. They (including the musicians) fill the small performance space, taking it in turn to take centre stage, but with a running thread of grace, power and sensuality across their individual styles.

Even though this is an incredibly emotive and powerful show, I feel it would have been even more special in a bigger space and with a more elaborate set. India Flamenco is a wonderful fusion of cultures interpreted through music and dance, with a simple but powerful message. This is a low budget, simply presented work, produced and performed with obvious love for the medium and a beautiful synthesis of form.

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Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 22 August)

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