British Columbia & Companía Antonio
March 25-27, 1999 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
by Ross Michael Pink
After watching CARMEN performed by the famed dancers, Compania de Antonio Gades, it is likely that the audience felt musical and gypsy-esque. This is a company of dancers with the unique ability to infuse personality and spirit into the performance. They are not merely dancers but creators of mood . And this is important because flamenco is not simply a collection of dance steps, but an expression of culture, hubris and attitude. The ninety minute performance, with no intermission, was staged cleanly and with simplicity. The dancers were talented, brisk, charismatic and vibrant with energy. Stella Arauzo as Carmen and Jose Manuel Huertas as Don Jose were standouts.
Carmen, a story of passion and obsession, is based on the 1875 Georges Bizet opera which, in turn, was based on the 1845 novel by Prosper Merimee. The character of Carmen, in many ways, is the quintessential passionate Spanish woman, and it is fitting then that Gades chose to wed the rich and vibrant tradition of Flamenco to this opera.
Compania de Antonio Gades was founded in 1963 by Gades who was born in Elda, Spain in 1936. He has been a dancer and choreographer of true originality. He left Spain for three years in the mid 1970s to protest the repressionn of the Franco regime, finally returning in triumph in 1978 after the death of Franco.
Bravo to the company and efforts by all concerned to bring this stellar performance to Vancouver audiences!