A PACO PENA REVIEW
More than other dance forms, flamenco thrives on the illusion of spontaneity. It’s the reason why some of the best moments in a flamenco show happen after the show has ended, when the ensemble gathers at the edge of the stage, like a happy family or a band of tipsy friends, dancing for each other. The guitarists dance, the dancers sing, and everybody claps along. Dance returns to its most basic function: a communal activity, a celebration of joie de vivre and the pleasure of good music.
Great flamenco dancers trick you into believing they are making it up as they go along, though a certain amount of pre-planning is obviously necessary in order to put on a show. They practice, they figure out new tricks, polish their technique and plan out well-structured routines that goad the audience into a frenzy without killing the performer in the process. The object is to produce a kind of ecstasy – the famous out-of-body state known as duende. (It’s the same reason ballet has moments like Albrecht’s endless entrechats in the second act of Giselle; the dancer jumps, over and over, until he is on the verge collapse, while the audience’s excitement grows and grows).
This is also the reason why big, showy, tightly-choreographed flamenco spectacles with complicated concepts and fancy lights, copious dry ice, and battalions of well-toned dancers rapping their feet in unison are so disappointing. A lot of noise, but no ecstasy.
Marina Harss on January 21, 2013