Edinburgh Fringe 2010
If you like Flamenco, you’ll love this. King of flamenco Miguel Vargas shows us what he can do and is joined by a group of professional flamenco artists to create a great whirling, swirling feast of entertainment.
The storyline of the piece is of flamenco though the ages and different cultural influences; yet this is secondary, for it is all about the dancing. It starts on a high and doesn’t let up. There is a mix of solo dances by Vargas, some duos with ladies, and wonderfully choreographed group dances. The large band line the back wall, playing Spanish guitars with aplomb, singing their hearts out, clapping to the rhythm and enthusing over the flamenco with calls of ‘Ole!’ They incorporate rhythms and instruments from around the world. The costume changes are numerous, as is the variety of cloth and style.
Vargas is a master; all chiseled features and angular curves, he puts in all the emotion expected of him. His steps in perfect rhythm with the music, the loud tap shoes becoming part of the sound-scape, he taps and twirls around the stage preening in recognition before the band before coming back to the front of the stage and pausing, statuesque like a matador from the history books.
Like the gypsys from the postcards you might buy in Granada, the female dancers are stunning. Stern and strong-featured, they are beautiful expressions of femininity.
The most theatrical part of the show is at the beginning, when Vargas plays a gypsy who is spat on by the locals: “Why do you spit on me? I am just a gyspsy?” This is in fact rather clumsily done, and looks more like a dated scene from West Side Story. The costumes and styles then move through the ages, ending in plain black.
Another off key and slightly unsavory moment is when a Negress dancer comes on in the middle of a wonderful dance full of colour and synchronized fan turning, when Vargas sees her he moves up to her with glee, gyrating and looking vaguely uncomfortable. Needless to say he is not as good an actor as he is dancer!
However, it is the dancing that stands out and the duo between Vargas and the aforementioned lady is bewitching. The band are magnificent throughout, keeping it authentic and traditional, and for an hour and ten you be spellbound.