Performing Arts: Dance
May 15, 2016
La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival: Al Son Son Flamenco Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernandez May 12, 2016 Flamenco can strip its performers naked. Often its simply the tilt of the head, the shift of the eyes that unveils. Twenty-one brave students joined Sonia Olla & Ismael Fernandez, his son Bola, his mother, and guitarists Hector Jose Marquez “Gordo” and Raphael Brunn on the stage of The Downstairs space of La Mama. Four members of this year’s junior company had astoundingly strong presence: Isabel Estrada-Jamison, Natalia Sanchez, producer Shigeko Suga, and Pete Manon. With an age range from 20s to 70s, these ladies and two men represent the cultural mix of NYC; they’re Latinas, African, Japanese, Greek, Russian, Taiwanese, and Filipino. If you only heard the audience, you’d think you were at a baseball game, with a hearty response echoing every move. The evening felt like an affectionate family gathering.

Olla & Fernandez are fierce carriers of Flamenco Puro; they demand clarity of intent, and they also just happen to be beautiful. Who cannot be captivated by them? Olla is part gypsy, Fernandez, full gypsy. They share a deep part of themselves, all the time. Joining Fernandez to sing in one break from the group dances were his mother whose joy could be felt in the next block and Bola whose raw energy makes his father seem mild by comparison.

Of the various styles presented: Jaleos, Tientos, Tangos, Bambera, Martinete, Fandangos, and Bulerias, Olla showed her strongest choreographic card with the Martinete which had been presented at the 2015 student show. Her distinct challenge is to ask her company to stand with a vibrancy of a hawk ready to pounce and then pounce with percussive attack and full body swing. She veered from unison choreography for the group to give a few measures to two or three dancers at a time, giving a moment for everyone to shine.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers

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