Flamenco is more than just an art form; it's an art amalgam within which talented, dedicated practitioners find themselves melding song, dance and instrumental music into a thrilling aural and visual experience.
Anyone in attendance when the Compania Flamenco Jose Porcel showed up at the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts Friday evening benefited from an amazing example of just how exciting flamenco, in its fullest state, can be.
The preshow buzz about this program was strong enough that there was a lot of crowd action at the ticket windows, with lengthy lines filled with folks either picking up their prepaid arts passports for the night or waiting for the chance to secure their ducats. By the end of the evening, most of the concert goers witnessed a tightly run program showcasing some amazing musicianship backed by some quietly effective staging and lighting and fronted by a variety of impressively physical dancers. The band generally featured two madly fluid guitarists whose picking, strumming and fret work were obviously the product of intensely focused practice sessions, in addition to a guy playing either flute or soprano saxophone and a percussionist who provided the manic pulse for most of the dancer's set pieces. There were also two singers, one male and one female, providing rhythmic hand claps in addition to warbling vocals that brought Moorish melodies to mind.
Porcel's dance troupe fully integrated with the backing musicians, stomping out accents while moving hands and torsos with the grace of seasoned martial arts masters. The costuming enhanced the storytelling, especially from the female side of the eternal equation. Their dresses were created to maximize spectacle and flounce, their solid-colored bodies setting the stage for multi-hued edges that twirled in aerial patterns as the dancers moved about the stage.
Other than Porcel, the most impressive dancer was his feminine counterpart, whose muscular precision from head to toe as she moved through steps, turns and whirls was like hat of a ballet dancer who learned her craft from a terpsichorean Bruce Lee.
Compania Flamenco Jose PorcelFriday night in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, Amherst.