Manuel Liñán, flamenco dancer and choreographer, opens a brief window into the captivating world of flamenco in his latest production, ‘Sinergia’ at Nottingham Lakeside Arts. The fusion of traditional song, Spanish guitar and dance is mesmerizing and compelling.
Flamenco is not just the ‘dance’ we have become somewhat familiar with through holidays overseas or televised dance shows. It is the melding together of song, guitar and structured dance, to create a unique art form. Flamenco originated in the folklore music traditions of Andalusia. The songs are structurally complex, rhythmically challenging and follow a set framework, most often dealing with broad themes of love, loss and longing. The dance then provides interpretation and reaction to the song, requiring performers to balance honouring the traditional form whilst bringing something new and of the moment.
The title of this latest production by Liñán is ‘Sinergia’ or Synergy, and it is the perfect description for the relationship between the performers on stage. The interaction of elements which when combined, produce a total effect that is more than the sum. Liñán collaborates with his singers and guitarist, so that their performances feed each other. There is palpable tension, each following, echoing, and building on the energy of the other. The space they perform in is limited by tight beams of light, further focussing them together. They operate as one living, breathing form.
Liñán won the National Dance Prize of Spain 2017. His dancing is powerful and commanding but at the same time intricate and controlled. There is brawn and proud bearing, the foot stamping and rapid tapping of heel and toe creating urgency and threat, very masculine. However, alongside this are sinuous arms, delicate hands, fluttering fingers and a sensitivity to all that is around him. The intensity with which he performs is hypnotic.
The singers produce a unique sound, with incredible power and control. David Carpio has a haunting tone to his voice, reminiscent of a call to prayer, and Ismael de La Rosa ‘El Bola’ has an earthy warmth which conveys passion and emotion. Each takes turns to solo, duet and both join in with clapping, finger-snapping and foot stamping, all of which are traditional ways of ensuring the complex rhythms are sustained. Victor Marquez ‘Tomate’ is the skilled guitarist, creating beautiful tunes full of feeling, and completing the group.
Ana Garcia, founder of Flamenco Edition, the company that brought ‘Sinergia’ to the UK, aims to showcase flamenco in cities outside of London and in smaller venues, where the intimacy of the work can be appreciated. Liñán and company provide a brief glimpse of something fundamentally Spanish and very personal and it is a privilege to watch it.
Reviewer: Kathryn McAuley