Tango & Flamenco Fusion
nytheatre.com review by Akia Squitieri
February 25, 2006
I’ll admit when I first realized that this production was in sunnyside, my outlook on the assignment completely changed, I was not looking forward to the journey to go out into Queens. But upon my arrival into the warm and inviting Thalia Spanish Theatre, that feeling immediately went away.
Of special note: artistic director Angel Gil Orrios has made the dramatic programming of Thalia bilingual, with alternating nights of performances in Spanish and in English; this kind of inclusion is rare in any specialized theatre. This in itself is worth making the short jaunt out to Queens to see this unique show.
Tango & Flamenco Fusion is a tightly woven combination of music and dance that comes across as an elegant concert or cabaret rather that traditional theatre. There is no narrative or text to the production, but it flows from musical number to dance number and back with grace and style.
The musicians (Bandoneon Master Raul Jaurena, Flamenco guitarist Daniel Casares, pianist Octavio Brunetti, bassist Jorge Longo, flutist Marco Granados, and drummer Sean Kipisz) are brilliant in every possible way. The transitions between songs are flawless and immaculate in precision, keeping the audience rapt in every note. But the real star of the night is guitarist Daniel Casares whose deft playing and natural charisma are remarkable.
Singer Irene Salas “Chanela” provided my favorite song of the night “Flamenco Song/Buleria” with her stirring presence and powerful voice. Not to be overlooked is singer Marga Mitchell who has undeniable star power with her classical voice and expressive manner.
The dancers are not as impressive as the musicians; there is a definite lack of consistency and sharpness in the numbers. That being said, each pairing definitely has its shining moments and provides entertaining performances. The Flamenco pair (Aurora Reyes and Rick Santiago or Yloy Ybarra—the program did not indicate who was performing on what night) have an excellent chemistry and strong flair for drama. Tango pair Sandra Buratti and Walter Perez provide the show with zest and passion, and Carolina Jaurena and Carlos Acuna are the standouts of the evening with their final dance number, “ Tango Dance-Lo Que Vendra” which is technically superb.
A true delight to the eyes and the ears is Fusion Milonga “La Soledad Y El Angel”, which seemed to be the audience’s favorite number of the evening. This song finally weaves the dancers and musicians together into one elaborate number utilizing the ensemble's talents to their fullest.
The set is simple and has a lovely aesthetic of softly colored polka dots, white gauze, and a multi-leveled stage where the musicians and singers perform. One of the simple but standout choices is to make the color scheme primarily white, a pleasure to the eyes. The lighting is also an impressive and well-thought-out element, simple and elegant, but adding dramatic punches when needed. (All lighting & production design is by Angel Gil Orrios.)
Soledad Lopez’s costumes are bright and colorful, serving the production well. Especially impressive is a yellow ruffled confection of a dress that singer Irene Salas wears.
Ideally, I would have loved to have seen a better “fusion” of the two art forms rather than a rotation of the two styles; the show does not seem to meet its goal of fusing the two elements but rather showcases the differences between the two. That aside, I did thoroughly enjoy Tango & Flamenco Fusion, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful, engaging evening of music and dance.