Flamenco and hip hop collide to fairly awful effect
How on earth could flamenco and hip hop work together, you may wonder, when surveying the posters for ‘explosive new dance phenomenon’ ‘Titanium’. See the show and, unfortunately, you’ll be largely none the wiser.
Nuevo Ballet Espanol creators Ángel Rojas and Carlos Rodríguez created this mash-up on the basis that both art forms come from the street (er, surely something true of quite a few dances). So here we have three bailaores, three hip hop dancers and three b-boys, all dressed as though they’ve spent too long watching Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’ video, interacting through a series of baffling vignettes.
It seems, given the amount of over-emoted angst going on, as though there should be a narrative thread somewhere, but it’s impossible to discern one among the array of big but empty gestures.
What does soon become all too clear is that Rojas and Rodríguez have fatally tipped the balance in this show in favour of the art form they know. They and their fellow bailaor present a strong, distinct, instantly recognisable dance style, impressively executed, if lacking some of flamenco’s usual dark romance due to an absence of female dancers to complete its yin-yang. But for much of the show they’re pitted against the hip hop dancers, who got the short choreographic straw and flail about in a style best described as ‘generic pop video’. There’s no competition.
Their real challengers should have been the b-boys, with their fierce athleticism and jaw-dropping precision, but they’re confusingly confined to skulking about in shadow wearing gimp masks for a large part of the show. When they’re finally unleashed near the end, you get some real fireworks: the boys and their on-stage musicians form the traditional flamenco semi-circle and the b-boy contingent shows off superlative skills (particularly Elihú Vázquez’s airflares) as the flamenco dancers tilt at their windmills. It’s not enough, though, to justify this well-íntentioned but sadly incoherent show.