REVIEW : Paco Peña Flamencura

Regarded as one of the worlds’ foremost traditional flamenco players, Paco Pena alongside his hand-picked company of dancers, guitarists and singers also known as the Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company graced the Bruce Mason Centre stage last night with a crowd pleasing performance.

It was a delight witnessing a man who has such power and control over an instrument, taking the audience into the realm of vivid imagination, emotion and flamenco through the music-theatre show. In fact, the word “show,” is not quite a term that would describe of the performance it is simply a work of art in real time.

Paco Pena is no stranger to the guitar, having learnt the instrument from his brother at age 6 making his professional debut at age 12. Becoming a household name in his native Spain as a highly regarded accompanist to Flamenco dance and singing, it was his move to London in the last 1960’s which led to a critically acclaimed soloist career. The set up of the evening took place in what is called a “Juerga,” which defines an informal or spontaneous meeting that includes dancing, singing, hand clapping and most interestingly the beating of rhythm on a crate or table accompanying the local talent and mood which made for a calm and relaxed atmosphere among the audience. The dancers performed in spectacular fashion, from castanets to emotional expression – one female dancer embodied exultant emotions while the other dancer embodied darker emotions illustrated through flamenco, costume colour, facial expression and change.

This well honed dance form that is flamenco is restless and never stagnant for long, known as an ever changing dance; flamenco is full of culture and song. One minor distraction however, fell to the hands of the male flamenco singer who at times would fall out of “character,” by adjusting his hair or with an odd cough on stage took away from the performing dancers and musicians. This was however, a minor bump in the road, after a standing ovation Paco Pena alongside the dance company delighted the audience with improvised singing and dancing. The Paco Pena Dance Company will take on the stage tonight once again for another stellar performance.