Sadler's Wells' annual festival of all things flamenco opens with this UK premiere of Ballet Flamenco from Sara Baras, one of Spain's most popular flamenco stars. 'La Pepa' is a history of her homeland Andalucia and features guest artist jose Serrano, nine dancers and seven musicians. Olé!
Part of the Flamenco Festival London 2014, which runs until March 15.
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¡Que decepción Sara Baras el sabado en el Flamenco Festival! Parecía un recital de academia...pañuelos, abanicos...pena no hubiesen castañuelas! Sara Baras baila un total de 20 minutos ella sola, y las demás 2 horas nos deja con un cuadro flamenco en plan feria. Y lo peor de todo, la peña aclamandole como a una diosa...y ella muy presumida apenas moviendo los pies y los brazos a la vez. Será que yo no entiendo su arte, pero allí ví mucha guasa y muy poca arte. A fantastic show for someone with little or no knowledge of flamenco and above all of Baras' abilities. Difficult to recognize her, even during her perfect "taconeo" The whole show is a display of perfect techniques, academic techniques, and the only performer (Baras) who could elevate technique to real art, decided to keep the stage for her self for barely 30 minutes. The rest of the performance was all about amazing musicians and a typical "cuadro flamenco": fans, scarfs, taconeos, plenty of taconeos, as flamenco was just that. Shame she reduced to such a plain, commercial performance, that while keeping the audience alert with its display of strength, agility and endurance, never crossed the stage and invaded the theater. We could all see it, but I barely felt it.
Sometimes theatre and dance can seem a little inaccessible to the uninitiated. However, in 1925 Lilian Baylis rebuilt the Sadler’s Wells theatre, envisioning a theatre that provides great art to everybody. With this in mind, I entered its glass-fronted facade, which is accessed by all ticket holders at the same entrance (no need to go in through a separate door if your seat is all the way up by the roof!), to attend the 2014 Flamenco Festival. This has run each spring for the last decade but it was my first time, both at the festival and at a flamenco show. According to those in the know (my partner’s father), I’d picked a good first experience, with Sarah Baras, the world-famous and award winning flamenco dancer and choreographer, in a show of her own making. With an hour and a half of dancing, I was happy to find that there was no need for any special knowledge or previous experience of flamenco to enjoy the show. The programme leads you through the dances, which tell the story of La Pepa, the Spanish constitution set out in 1812 by the Cortes Generales. However, it is possible to simply soak up the dancing and the music without needing to follow the story or know the history. Flamenco dancing portrays all the exuberance, rhythm and passion of Spain and this sort of energy is infectious and can be enjoyed by anyone. Anyone can marvel at the unbelievable speed of Sarah Baras’ footwork, be soothed by the sensuous strains of the guitar accompaniment and be moved by the power and emotion of the singers. A fantastic introduction to flamenco for anyone intrigued but unsure where to start.