January 21, 2019
Featured at Joyce Theatre, the Compan~i´a Irene Rodri´guez closed the Cuba Festival season with a grateful standing ovation cheering the Spanish theatrical art references gathered within the program titled Ma´s que flamenco/More than flamenco. The general audience’s reaction indicated their benevolent and enthusiastic welcome to flamenco and its related proposals, as well as to the supportive sum of collaborative efforts showcased by the emerging and seasoned artist’s performance.
Led by Irene Rodri´guez as director, principal dancer and choreographer, a core of five emerging Spanish dance talents were accompanied by singer/ cantaor Andre´s Correa, David Acosta (El Rojo) as bassist and music director, saxophonist Joel Ramirez, percussionist Josue´ Rondo´n, and the guitarist Christian Puig replacing Ariel Puig.
The program opened with El Mito, a strikingly unconventional footwork proposal. Slightly lifted, the curtain slyly revealed the dancers’ legs from below the knee to the floor. The choreography consisted of a zapateado percussive dialogue, confrontation, debate, and dissolution between a core of black shoe-dancers and a white-shoe soloist. Within an acoustic journey of jungle sounds, flamenco, and Cuban percussion, the dancer’s footwork went through directional changes, formations, entering and exiting the stage’s foreground. The piece climaxed as the core surrounded the white-shoe dancer and lifted her out of sight, concluding after the dancers exited one by one, and a pair of white shoes were dropped center stage.
A sensitive Homenaje followed supported by the gentle and melismatic voice of Andre´s Correa. Locura y Cordura portrayed a love triangle of a stylized Spanish dance shape-based composition. A New York premeire, La Pena Negra (inspired by Lorca’s Romance de la Pena Negra) presented a series of photographic motifs of different shapes created between the core dancers in black studio leotards and practice skirts or black shirt and trousers, and Irene, dressed in a long thin black gown similar to a flamenco train dress.
The second act opened with Zapateao, a series of percussive footwork performed by Irene and the core dancers, all dressed in white pants and suits and contrasting red blouses or shirts.
Duende showcased the unique talents and versatility of the musicians who smoothly transitioned between flamenco and jazz through percussion, song, and melody.
Exuding an air of Andalusia, in Entre Espinas Rosas the core’s bailaoras performed a stylized flamenco alegri´as, adorned with the coquettish flair of their large white perico´n fans. Group formations melted into flourishing sculptures created with their ruffled long coli´n polka dot dresses. Vi´ctor Basilio’s choreography, Encontra2, confronted the two male core dancers’ alternating solos.
Irene Rodri´guez's Amaranto, closed the program. It was a lengthy solo featuring melodramatic gestures linking a series of rapid footwork phrases with configurations of her red embroidered black manto´n. In concordance with flamenco’s tradition, the company closed with a fin de fiesta encore where the outstanding singing of the guitarist and the flamenco dance of the cajo´n percussionist were showered with Oles!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada