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Flamenco master Antonio Gades and Spanish film director Carlos Saura put their heads together in 1983 and came up with a flamenco dance extrapolation of the familiar Carmen story that was an award-winning sensation. The same brain trust has now adapted for the stage this melding of Bizet's well-loved music with sizzling flamenco dance. The expanded story finds a company preparing a dance version of "Carmen," with a contemporary parallel woven in as the director finds himself infatuated with the women cast as Carmen. After reported critical and audience raves in Great Britain, Italy, France and Spain, the production is now set to open next Friday for a 21-performance run in Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre. One European critic called it "a hot-blooded mix of theatricality and earthiness . . . pulsates with a gritty, gutsy authenticity that leaves most other renditions of the story out in the cold." And another, enamored of the lead dancer, raved, "The star on stage is Stella Arauzo . . . stealthy, darkly beautiful, with arms like serpents; when she dances she seems to be possessed by something elemental and dangerously knowing." Tickets: (800) 461-3333.

--Herman Trotter

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