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June 6-15, 2008
The cantaor wails "Ah fortuna!" The guitarista's eyes track the baile's (dancer's) feet, anticipating the precise rhythm. Spotlighted sweat sprays off the man's head as the artist twirls, concluding his flamenco labor. “Alé!” call soft, admiring voices from the audiences, “Alé!”
Eva Encinias Sandoval, executive director of the National Institute of Flamenco, and her twins Joaquin and Marisol Encinias, co-artistic directors, organize the yearly Festival Flamenco with the best international flamenco artists. The 22nd annual, six day event presented eight different concerts.
Compañía’s Rocio Molina's concert scored an hour-plus of intensely focused duende, her immense stamina and thrusting, angular movements unusual for their sustained, acute angles. Her quick, delicate footwork sounded gentle, unlike the smack issuing from most traditional nail-studded soles.
Manuel Liñan and Marcos Flores––both rail-thin young men–– brought a new sort of masculinity and relationship to flamenco, confronting and addressing each other with an intimacy that allowed humor, frequent eye contact, and chest-to-chest touching.
Carmen "La Talegona" and Inmaculada Ortega created excitement with their fierce vocabulary, but eventually became tiresome because of their lengthy repetitions. The work was predominantly angry, alternating with delight. They began and ended the concert using a floor-length, oval mirror frame that stood upright, one dancer on each side, mirroring each other's moves, arms snakey. Ortega danced her with delight, kicking and bouncing her long, ruffled train. Her silken hand gestures connected to her sinuous body movements.
With every movement of her body, La Talegona implied a cosmic irritation. Stomping, she bent her spine backward and twisted. With her jaw clenched and lower lip pushed out, she ended each phrase with her hands raised and held back. Razor-sharp turns rotated into a tantrum; she pounded her thighs with fists and rushed forward while bent half over.
Albuquerque's Yjastros (Joaquin Encinias, artistic director, and Marisol Encinias, soloist) began the performance week with a full evening of surging, precise-as-a-military-tatoo urban choreography for its 15-member company. For the finale on June 15 in Santa Fe, Manuel Liñan and Marcos Flores performed separately, robbing the audience of the duo's witty, unique chemistry, though each had plenty to say in their solos. Antonio Canales, a big, dramatic performer, posed in heroic positions, pacing the stage to gather strength. His explosive footwork (tacons) actually punched a hole in the wooden stage floor. "He's incredible and unpredictable," exclaimed an audience member.
Photo of Inmaculada Ortega. By Pat Berrett.