Flamenco dancing is like a drug: once it gets into your system, the pounding rhythms and body music hook you for life. I was 22 on my first visit to Spain when I sat in an open air club underneath the stars and watched and heard my first show. I could not believe how such pounding rhythms affected me. When I returned home I enrolled in a dance class and bought a guitar with a Segovia Tutorial. The dance class was energetic and exciting and I could twirl and stamp with the best, but I ran out of steam and the guitar playing lasted only a few weeks: music I discovered needs a lot of practice. But the guitar did look very decorative on the living room wall hanging between a pair of crossed Toledo rapiers!
But the love of the dance and percussion of Zapateado never left me. I see Flamenco any time I can.I was in Spain in 2014 and grabbed a chance to watch the locals at work. The show in Spain was highly produced, with flashy costumes and was a lot of fun, but I can honestly say that the standard of dance and music was nowhere near as good as the Flamenco Fire team I saw last at Viva Sevilla! The Golden Age of Flamenco.
There was a company of eight, two guitarists, a violinist, two singers, a percussionist, and two female dancers. Despite the fact that only three of the team came from Spain did not take away the authenticity of the night. Watching them sit and perform on a barely decorated stage it was like seeing a Spanish gypsy camp site; in fact it struck me that they could have come straight from the mountain retreat of the smugglers in Bizet’s opera Carmen.
The dancers were Francesca “La Chica” Grima from Seville and Simone Pope from Brisbane. They were just sensational as they beat out the rhythms of their own choreography with flashing feet and graceful, sensual moves of the body. The performed such intricate steps, some slow and sensual others fast and furious, love taps and anger taps, jealousy, every emotion flowed from the dance It was difficult to sit still while they danced and impossible to keep the feet from joining in.
Simone began dancing in 1990, discovered Flamenco and has dedicated herself to the art form ever since with annual trips to Spain to perfect her craft. She is now known as one of the finest dancers and teacher in the country and after watching her dance it is easy to see why.
Behind them was the classical guitar work of Flamenco Fire creator and MD Andrew Veivers and Kieren Ray, amazing violin sounds from Shenton Gregory and the magical hand clapping of the whole team. The vocals were provided, in Spanish, by Olayo Jiménez and Clara Domingo. The Serbian percussionist Andrej Vujicic was a sensation himself beating complicated rhythms on an amplified wooden box and doing amazing things with his feet and walking sticks.
The sit-down dance he performed with Francesca Grima was mind-blowing as was his routine with the two dancers with heel-tapping and walking sticks. That performance brought the house down. If you have ever wanted to see top class Flamenco dancing you won’t need to go to Spain, just take in Flamenco Fire, you won’t get a more authentic performance anywhere.
I am sure that anyone experiencing Flamenco for the first time, especially from this troupe, would be affected the same way I was; just fall in love with it and be hooked for life.
Company: Flamenco Fire
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane
Dates: Season: January 28-February 6, 2016
Tickets: QTIX 136 246 or www.qpac.com.au
For more of Eric Scott’s writings on theatre, check out Absolute Theatre
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television