Dance Review







Flamenco Festival London

Compania Maria Pages


Director: Maria Pages


 3 - 6 March, 2008





A review by Marion Drew for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Rhythm was everywhere! It sparkled out of snapping fingers and tapping toes. It strutted and pranced in hands and thighs and feet and shoulders. It frolicked and swaggered across the stage in guitars and voices and drums and a cello, in walking sticks and fans and the crisp flurry of castanets. It was there in the whisper of shoes and even in the silences.

The Compania Maria Pages performed on the opening night of the London Flamenco Festival, and what a celebration of this ‘intellectual, visceral art’ this evening’s dance was!

There was passion in abundance, violence and the tragedy and the majesty of a bullfight, but also comic moments; a little Spanish ‘hopscotch’, a coquettish playfulness with a quintet of fans, a dismissal of men with a haughty look and a snappy tattoo of footwork.

Maria herself was magnificent. A tall extremely graceful dancer who treated us to the full range of her repertoire, from a ‘jazzy’ flamenco in a minxy little black dress, to a sultry solo in long smooth red velvet. And those arms! Impaling us on the horns of a bull, folding us into her seductive embrace and whirling us out again into a spinning frenzy, the duende.

We were taken by turns into the many faces of Spain and the historical influences on this dance form by this exuberant and tightly-knit company; a festive wedding, a boulevard of courting couples, a solemn devotion, a bull fight where the gender roles were interestingly blurred in dance as well as in costume.

Skilfully choreographed interplay between smaller clusters of dancers and the larger pieces of the whole group brought to mind perhaps other dance and music influences, with a showcasing and celebration of individual prowess within the fluid structure of the larger framework of beautifully synchronised steps and split-second timing of extraordinary footwork.

Some gorgeously voluptuous dancers among the women reminded me that dance is not about sinewy slimness, but about crafting the magic of movement, and about how dance is an expression from deep within. Vivid, hip-hugging, flounced skirts and tight jackets in the more traditional dances were everything one would expect; and in the more modern interpretations there was as well, something fresh and tantalising; slinky graceful gowns and workaday men’s suits.

Simple, colourful and evocative sets and the arresting music were a wonderful backdrop, especially the cello playing and the singing of Ismael de La Rosa, the male singer, whose voice in the seguirilla beautifully captured for me a sense of the (hotly debated) eastern origins of this stunning dance form.

The rapturous clapping and drumming of appreciative heels on the floor of the theatre during the curtain calls said it all as far as the audience was concerned, and it wasn’t hard to join in!



Sadler’s Wells
Rosebery Avenue
Booking information
Ticket office: 0844 412 4300 Monday to Saturday, 9am – 8.30pm. Sunday opening times vary. Please call for details.
Bookings in person in the theatre foyer.




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