Caravan World Rhythms
Rafael de Utrera Flamenco Company

Date: 25 September 2004
Venue: Surrey Bell Centre for the Performing Arts

Reviewer: Ed Farolan



Rafael de Utrera

One of Flamenco's most popular young singers, Rafael de Utrera, was showered with praise and a standing ovation during his one-night performance at the Surrey Bell Centre for the Performing Arts. Hailed as "...dynamic ... powerful...and electrifying" at the New York Flamenco Festival 2004, he excited his Canadian audience with his raspy Andalusian voice and passionate performance.

Also featured was dancer Rafael de Carmen, winner of the Nimes prize (1996) and the Biennal in Seville (1997). The audience was fascinated by his movements and complex rendering of pure creative flamenco dance. Guitarists Emilio Maya and Jose Manuel Leon, and percussionist Katumba, played extremely well, accompanying Utrera in his rendition of original as well as traditional flamenco songs. I was hoping for Nelida Cerida (from Maria Pages Company) to also dance, as this was advertised, but for some reason,which was not explained by Caravan's director, Robert Benaroya, who introduced the company at the beginning of the show, she was unable to make an appearance.

It's a pity that such an excellent show did not have the attendance expected. Only less than half of the auditorium was filled. Perhaps a venue like Vancouver Playhouse would have been perfect for such a concert.






Flamenco needs intimacy, and little theatres are more appropriate for shows like this one. In Spain, flamenco shows are held in small underground pubs called cuevas, the traditional Spanish gypsy's environment.

Another reason perhaps for the lack of attendance is that the venue was Surrey, and Vancouver audiences would have been inconvenienced to travel all the way out to the Fraser Valley to see this show.

Utrera's company has been touring since September 14th, performing in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle and other US cities. Vancouver is the only Canadian city where they're performing during their 2004 North American Tour. Their last three performances will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico (28 September), San Antonio, Texas (29 September), and Cleveland, Ohio (1 October).

Congratulations to Caravan World Rhythms Society ( and, in particular, to its director, Robert Benaroya, for providing high quality cultural entertainment with artists from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds to Vancouver that, in the past three decades, has become more and more multicultural, and thus, in need of diverse international shows.

reviewvancouver looks forward to reviewing more of their shows in the near future, particularly two coming up soon: Esma Redzepova, The Queen of Romani-Gypsy Music, on 10 October, and Tango Pasion from 12-17 October at the Vogue Theatre.

2004 Ed Farolan