By Lisa Lanzi
Studio Flamenco opened in Adelaide in 2004 and for this season of Recuerdos have transformed the atmosphere at Nexus into a Spanish celebration as they depict scenes and memories from daily life along the Guadalquivir River. We are treated to the music, song and dance from the region of Cadiz, through Sevilla and Cordoba, and ending with a final fiesta in the gypsy quarter of Triana. This family-friendly performance is a delight from the beginning. There is so much joy and skilful dance and music in the performance, the audience cannot help but be swept along by the excitement.
The Studios’ dancers and teachers Yasmine Hilton & Emma Fernée designed and choreographed the spectacle in tandem with dancer/choreographers Susi Masi and Daniel Lyas. They were joined on stage by additional dancers Melissa Walker, Satoko Kelty, Matina Kritikos, Olivia Guarna, Pei Ru Chao and Gabi Baltic. My ‘plus 1’ and I were transfixed by the principal dancers and truly appreciative of their elegance, verve, grace and power.
The accompanying musicians are also seriously gifted and their contribution cannot be separated from the dance elements as they are so closely linked artistically and technically. Marduk Gault and Aloysius Leeson feature on guitar and Adrian van Nunen on cajón. Returning guest artist Zoe Veléz appears as vocalist and dancer with the company. She is a graduate of both NIDA and the Fundacion de Cristina Heeren (Sevilla) where she studied flamenco singing. Zoe regularly performs as a Flamenco dancer and singer in her hometown, Sydney, and across Australia. Her thrilling and expressive vocals added an extra layer to this performance and are the perfect complement to the dancing.
There are four scenes within this production, each evoking a different locale and changing moods. The first offers a compelling solo from Susi Masi, La Muchacha Morena : “Among black butterflies goes a girl with dark hair joined to a serpent of white mist…”. Scene two leads us into a plaza in Sevilla. The mood is celebratory and the dancing vigorous and alive with soloists Lyas, Fernee, Velez and Hilton shining. The whole company assembles as the scene transitions into an impromptu juerga (flamenco party).
In scene three El Rio, a trio of women lounge by the river while the rural Guajira melody tempts them to open their fans and dance. The song by Velez is haunting and the dancers clothed in pale flowing dresses, Emma Fernee, Satoko Kelty and Melissa Walker, weave sensuously to the music using their large fans as a continuation of the choreography.
Fiesta de Triana is the final scene and the company enters in a blaze of colour echoing the Gypsy flamboyance of the district. By this time the audience are stomping and clapping with the company and the Spanish speakers in the crowd are chiming in with gusto.
This group is an Adelaide treasure with passion, skill and endless devotion to their craft. Long may they dance, entertain and prosper.
Photos Supplied by Lisa Lanzi
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.