April 10, 2022
Clad in a gown sewn full of roses Carmina Cortez tears the room open with her voice. It is like an excavation, digging toward the depths of roiling emotion that are at the heart of flamenco. The rest of Noche Flamenca’s program at the Joyce Theater was equally full of such Herculean tasks. From castanets clicking together at what seemed like inhuman speed to subtle wrists twisting with bombastic Spanish bravado, Martin Santangelo’s choreography is both thrilling and heartbreaking.
The stage was adorned with a raised platform which, aided by microphones along its lip, amplified the sounds of the dancer’s feet. Such a setup was invaluable, as the sound of Pablo Fraile’s toes dragging across the floor might be missed otherwise, and such intimate details brought a tenderness to the solo that tempered the matador jacket and masculine attitude that Fraire rakishly inhabited.
Similarly, in a solo danced by Antonio Granjero, musicians classically arrayed themselves across the back of the stage as Granjero exploded again and again and again, eliciting cries of “Olé!” from audience and performer alike. Astoundingly it seemed as though Granjero never stopped dancing, as he mopped sweat from his brow with his kerchief his feet continued to accelerate.
In a moment that audibly draw gasps, he inched backward stopping just short of falling into the first row of onlookers. Catching himself at this cusp he playfully stuck his heel against the edge, its sound whispering into the microphone. From here the program ran a gamut of intensity, turning to vocalist Manuel Gago whose rich voice filled the darkened theater with mourning, singing of his lost son and the depth of his loneliness.
Through all of this shone Soledad Barrio, who ended the show with a firey dance composed of precise rhythms and stomps. With her skirt gripped just above the knee she demonstrated not only mastery but restraint, holding back as if to not give everything to the tragic dance. This proved to be an impossible task, and in the final moments, she pounded her way to the front of the stage, her shadow cast huge against the brick behind her.
Here she let out a guttural yell, unspooling herself, this sound cut through the music, bringing it to a halt and the audience to their feet in roaring applause and tears.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele