Rocío Molina. Photo by Simone Fratin

Dance House/Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

Fallen from Heaven (Caida del Cielo) Compania Rocio Molina

When & Where September 27-30, 8 pm | Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 Hastings St.,Vancouver

Artistic Co-Director, Choreography & Musical Director Rocio Molina Artistic Co-Director Carlos Marquerie Composer Eduardo Trassierra Costume Design Cecilia Molano Lighting Carlos Marquerie, Antonio Valiente Sound Javier Alvarez

Dancer Rocio Molina Guitars Oscar Lago Singing, Electric Bass Kiko Pena Clapping and beat, Percussion Jose Manuel Ramos "Oruco" Percucssion, Electronics Pablo Martin Jones Stage manager Maria Agar Martinez

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Flying feet, driving percussion and the mesmerising voice of flamenco were all present and not at all correct in Fallen from Heaven, Rocio Molinas' performance for this year's Vancouver International Flamenco Festival.

The show opens with a crash of pounding electronic rock music, on the surface of it, as far away from traditional flamenco as might be, until the haunting sound of a flamenco song penetrates the dense fortissimo. Then sudden silence and for long moments, nothing but Molinas on stage, in a white flamenco dress with enormous ruffles around her feet. She stays extraordinarily still until eventually slow movements of her body and exploratory motions of her hands and fingers suggest the hatching of a new life. Such vivid contrasts were typical of the whole performance, loud and quiet, fast and slow. The pristine white frock of the opening gave way later to a simple dress of plastic dripping red dye. Where the white ruffles became a scallop shell or a mermaid's tail the other trailed bloody patterns on the floor.

Lightning-fast, virtuoso footwork and precision clapping from both Molina and her company gave traditional flamenco afficionados all they could desire while dance fans of all types were treated to dazzling modern dance using a flamenco vocabulary. The austere opening was followed by segments of joy and of distress and of sadness. Some were slightly flirtatious, others more blatant. A deliciously silly piece involved a packet of potato chips, another mocked matador machismo.

The Compania were true companions and close company. Guitars (Oscar Lago), clapping (Jose Manuel Ramos "Oruco"), percussion and electronics (Jose Manuel Ramos "Oruco" and Pablo Martin Jones) sustained and encouraged Molina's every move and emotion (except for the potato chips episode). Equally superb, Kiko Pena, vocalist, was direct and subtle and profound.

A small complaint: program notes would be helpful to a general audience.

Far from the haughty and aloof aspects of flamenco, this company radiates innovation, virtuosity, passion and expressiveness.

© 2023 Elizabeth Paterson