Theatre Flamenco at ODC May 19

26 May

Theatre Flamenco at ODC May 19

Theatre Flamenco has given its arguably first performance series since moving to a South Van Ness Location at the Bway Theatre of ODC. After a Cowell Theatre performance perhaps two years ago, the Carola Zertuche studio on McAllister gave way to a basement location near the United Nations Plaza, and from what I’ve heard, a difficult time for all concerned. This spring Zertuche’s classes and Theatre Flamenco moved perhaps two blocks away from ODC on South Van Ness, hopefully marking a very productive era. If what was presented May 19, it’s a fortunate signal.

Carola Zertuche invited Adela Campallo as a second soloist, two singers – Jose Cortes and Miguel Soto “El Londro’ and two guitarists Angel Ruiz and David Vargas. Three dancers, Bianca Rodrigues, Cynthia Sanchez and Radha Svetnicka, provided the corps de ballet for three numbers.

ODC’s theatre was stripped to the brick walls, exposing the giant Xes installed for earthquake safety. Three chairs with backs provided the scenery, their moving positions determined by florescent paint identified half way through the program because virtually all of the entrances occurred in dusky silence. While I have never seen flamenco in its native Spanish setting, the starkness, the severity of this ambiance seemed just right,

Zertuche’s talent lies as much in her conceptions as in her dancing, Tarantos, which opened the program. Dancing in black trousers and lacy blouse with ruffled cuffs, she seemed solemn, almost forbidding; as she moved forward and back, pivoting left and right, heels emitting complex responses to the guitar, I missed the swosh and grace of skirted movement, though I found nothing but admiration for her emergence behind the singer and her slow, deliberate development in the dance.

Zertuche’s three dancers joined her in Martinete, similarly garbed. For me this dance is enshrined in a 50’s era movie on flamenco where Antonio danced it in a quarry-like setting to the solitary sound of a hammer, a soulful number which the quartet reflected.

Adela Campallo’s Seguiriya vied in lengthy intensity with her tawny good looks.
She might be one of those smiling senoritas in a Seville feria poster inviting you to that special spring holiday, but her use of space, from the confines of complex taconeo to the sweeping stride around the space to arm stretched outward or upward in movement exclamation, she commanded attention.

The feminine quartet returned with a Rondena before Zertuche danced a bulerias, the musicians performed alone, Campallo’s focus pulverized a Romance, and the quintet of dancers completed the program with Cantinas.

Of particular interest to me was Radha Svetnicka, a Calcutta native, with the lingering ease of the Bengali native about her dancing, however accurate and precise her execution. I hope to see her regularly in the Theatre Flamenco programs.

A worthy program with David Vargas and Angel Ruiz as guitarists, Jose Cortes and Miguel Soto ‘El Londro” as impressive singers, I found myself musing how deceptively like conventional males one might observe on the street these artists appeared, making their collaboration that much more memorable.

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