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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Noche Flamenca hypnotizes with fancy footwork, rhythms

By Ana Paula Höfling

Noche Flamenca presented an unforgettable evening of flamenco dance and music to a sold-out house at Leeward Community College Theater Saturday night. With amazing technique and stagecraft, the company transported the audience to the sounds and colors of southern Spain.

As the house lights dimmed, our attention was brought to a dark stage by the sound of quick and precise footwork. The lights revealed Noe Barroso piercing the stage with his heels, arms strongly punctuating the end of each phrase, accompanied only by syncopated palmas — complex flamenco clapping.

Sitting in a semi-circle of chairs behind him, three women in full skirts and shawls over their shoulders began adding their own footwork to the rhythms created by their claps.

As the whole ensemble came together in this opening dance, "A Nuestro Son," they established a kind of informality and improvisational quality that permeated the rest of the evening.

And yet, director and choreographer Martin Santangelo was able to combine this feeling of spontaneity with highly structured solos and precisely choreographed moments of unison and counterpoint.

Dressed in a long, full blue skirt ending in ruffles, Isabel Bayon carved the air with her arms, peeling each finger into a fist only to peel them out just before they arrived at their destination. Her chest forward, arms overhead and slightly behind her head, she alternated and combined the lyricism created by her upper body with the percussive precision of her footwork.

Gazing downward, a hat hiding most of his face, Bruno Argenta began building up tension with his mere presence on stage. As if floating, he rose from his chair and hypnotized the audience with the subtlety of his hands and the bursts of speed coming from his feet.

The only duet of the evening, "Alegrias" danced by Barroso and Alejandra Zaballos, was at the same time playful, romantic and feisty. With the rest of the company behind them throwing in words of encouragement, typical of flamenco, the two young dancers would confront each other through challenging footwork, only to finish in a romantic embrace.

After a poignant vocal solo accompanied by guitar by Antonio Vizarraga, the evening culminated with a solo by founding company member Soledad Barrio, who took command of the stage with an inexplicable force that went beyond flawless technique and experience, a solo which brought a packed house to its feet.

Ana Paula Höfling is pursuing an MFA in choreography at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.