Caravan World Rhythms

Carmen Romero and Candela Flamenco Dance Company and Music Ensemble in Flamenco de Ayer y Hoy (Flamenco of Yesterday and Today)

Date: Saturday, 16 November 2002
Venue: Vogue Theatre, Vancouver

Reviewer: June Heywood


Carmen Romero, the choreographer, artistic director, principal dancer, and star of "Flamenco of Yesterday and Today," is as the program states a woman "who thrives in the emotional melting pot of this art form" and, whose "body is a prisoner to her heart as she performs with intensity and power." As a choreographer, Ms Romero "conveys old traditions to the modern world articulating the primal essence of flamenco." She does all this and more.

Last Saturday's full-house performance began 20- minutes late. Patrons began a slow hand-clap before the theatre was plunged into total darkness. Then Paco de Leon (Flamenco singer/guitarist) sang in a plaintive a capella voice as if from a minaret. The spotlight grew. Ms Romero, wearing one of her splendid costumes, entered and began a slow quarter-turn dance. At first, her movements were slow, then, as her feet got louder and faster, she began to twirl. Her hands flew like butterflies. With a look of defiance, Ms Romero's heels and toes tapped furiously in ever-changing rhythms as plumes of dust rose from the old boards of the Vogue.

As Ms Romero took her seat, Jose-Luis Perez (Flamenco singer/dancer) rose from the café table with a mischievous look on his face. With Spanish good looks, energetic leaps, and flashy footwork he wowed the audience. As he and Ms Romero danced together, their dark, long, curly hair flew, their footwork was in unison, and they exuded gleeful passion. Each dancer earned rousing applause at the evening's end so why wasn't Perez given more opportunity to show his dancing talents?

The four Flamenco dance artists - Katya de la Luz, Leona Cortes, Luisa de Rondo, Pamela Briz Guijarro - all experienced dancers had lithe, shapely bodies that might have moved as a ballet chorus had their gestures been more synchronized and their spacing tighter.

Miguel de la Bastide (composer/guitarist/musical director) is indeed "an imaginative, fertile creator whose work has an exceptional poetic quality." He weaves into his music the many influences of flamenco from Spain's centuries of Muslim occupation, through the dance form, the purely vocal, and the ditties and dances brought by sailors returning with songs and movements from South America and the Caribbean.

The six-piece Flamenco Band - Juan Dino, Mario Melo, Paul Ormandy, Michael Round, Paco de Leon, and Jose-Luis Perez - supplied rhythms that twisted and turned to create pain or passion with percussion instruments, guitars, and hands.

Carmen Romero, the star of her show, knows how to surround herself with talent.

© 2002, June Heywood