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Robert Abrams
Adventures Abroad
Performance Reviews
Teatro Lope de Vega
Madrid, OT (Spain)

Sara Baras' Ballet Flamenco in Sueños (Dreams)

by Robert Abrams
September 12, 2004
Teatro Lope de Vega
Gran Via 57
(Metro stop is Plaza de España)
Madrid, OT (Spain)

Sara Baras' Ballet Flamenco in Sueños (Dreams)

Robert Abrams
September 12, 2004

I had made my way down to the Melonera Festival during the day since much of Madrid shuts down on Sundays. Things were very slow there during the day, but there were a few food vendors partly open for business, and with a little congenial pointing and pantomime, I ended up with a lunch of calamari and cerveza. It made for a very pleasant afternoon in the sun. As the afternoon languished on, I made an educated guess that not only was there going to be no Paso Doble during the last day of the Melonera Festival, but that it would be all speeches in Spanish. I tried to talk to someone who looked official, and from what little we could understand of each other, plus the tables full of statuettes, it seemed fairly clear this was going to be an awards show with no singing.

I decided to stick with Plan A, which was to see Sara Baras' Ballet Flamenco perform " Sueños".

I arrive at the theatre perhaps 20 minutes before the start of the show. I bought the best ticket available, which turned out to be in the last row of the nosebleed section of the balcony. The last row of Teatro Lope De Vega is almost as high above the stage as the last row of City Center in New York.

The stage is bathed in a blue twilight. Six musicians strike up the plaintive rhythm. Dancers take the stage. They display sharp transitions from one sequence of steps to the next. The passages within each dance are well modulated. The dancers have very fast feet. The choreography uses strong forms that read well to the last row.

The next number begins. Women are dressed in black lace. They move slowly, as if in mourning. They move faster, dancing circles within circles. Sara Baras appears dressed in white. Her costume alone creates a strong visual counterpoint to the dancers in black. A man joins her. They dance with playful interaction, framed by five singers in a line behind them.

Ms. Baras' movements are very finished, no matter how fast she moves. This is both visually pleasing, and is also a sign that she is always on balance, even though she throws herself into the movement with great energy repeatedly throughout the show. Generally speaking, the rest of her company demonstrates such balance as well.

The show is largely a star vehicle for Ms. Baras, but there are also several artful group numbers. One fine bit of group choreography that stood out involves Ms. Baras and a male partner moving across the stage left to right (from the audience's perspective). Ms. Baras and the man move across dancing always upright, while the group of women arrayed around them pulse up and down as they travel.

The sound, even in the last row, was superb. Some of this credit is most likely due to Sergio Sarmiento and Fernando Durán (Sonido de Sala and Sonido de Monitores respectively). When a dancer snapped her fingers, you could hear it distinctly. Some of the credit is due to the dancers. When they wanted to radiate calm, their feet were silent as they stepped. When they wanted to tap with thunder, it might as well have been raining. At one point Ms. Baras danced solo for what seemed like five minutes with no accompaniment from the musicians and no accompaniment of any kind except her own tapping. It was gripping.

Flamenco is often a very alive form of dance because even with choreographed numbers, the interaction between dancers and dancers, and especially dancers and musicians can feel very dynamic: artful yet spontaneous. Ms. Baras' dancers and musicians performed phenomenal rhythmic progressions that passed back and forth: the dancers might suggest a rhythm and the musicians would build upon it, or the reverse. The rhythms became increasingly complex as the back and forth continued in this section.

When dancers dance with energy and intensity, they often use quite a lot of floor pressure (although this varies somewhat depending on what style of dance one is doing, and even in a dance style that normally uses a lot of floor pressure, needs to be adjusted when dancing on surfaces that provide excessive traction, like brick). One indication of good floor pressure is the marks dancers leave on the floor. You often see such traces all over the floor of a dance studio. At several points during the show, Ms. Baras's floor pressure was enough to literally mark the floor with a delicate yet strong arc. Wearing a red dress, she inhabited each space on the stage in order to possess it. She performed big turns with her skirt, flying in a circle. She moved across the floor so smoothly that she might as well have been on a conveyor belt.

The lighting throughout the show (by Miguel Millán) was simple, yet effective. It made use of a series of slightly off-plumb squares to define smaller spaces within the stage. At the end of the show, each dancer in the company performed a final solo, each within a square of light. The dancers rejoined as an ensemble, linked hands to shoulders in a line, and danced off framing Ms. Baras and a male dancer. The audience roared with approval (they clearly know their Flamenco).

The dancers and musicians came out for more deserved bows. Ms. Baras gave an impassioned speech that, I am presuming, was mostly to thank the audience and her company, and talk about the importance of passing on the tradition of Flamenco (I have been getting by for a few days by picking words out of signs and menus, but most spoken Spanish is currently beyond me). The company did one last number. Ms. Baras repeated her conveyor belt sequence (it's a crowd pleaser). For these last bows, the dancers were joined by one little girl who had not been in the show. I am guessing that she is Ms. Baras' daughter. With some prompting from Ms. Baras, the little girl mimicked a few of Ms. Baras' moves and then strode off the stage with the dancers, all waving regally. One can certainly expect that she will learn to dance without fear in such company.

Ms. Baras and company put on a first class show. The dancing was phenomenal both in the individual steps, in each number and as an integrated evening long presentation of abstract dance. Whether you are a Flamenco fan in particular or not, if you have an opportunity to see them, I highly recommend that you buy the best ticket available.

Choreography and direction: Sara Baras
Music: José María Bandera, Mario Montoya, Jesús De Rosario
Design of Vestaurio: Sara Baras, Tere Torres, Javier Cosano
Design of Lighting: Miguel Millán
Lead dancer: Sara Baras
Invited artist: José Serrano
The company of dancers: Auxi Fernandez, Raúl Fernández, Cecilia Gómez, Ana González, Charo Pedraja, Raúl Prieto, María Vega
Repetidora: Ana González
Ballet Maestra: Dania González
Musicians: Guitar: José María Bandera, Mario Montoya, Singers: Miguel De La Tolea, Saúl Quirós, Percussion: José Motos, Violin: Amador Goñi
Chief Technician: Miguel Millán
Regidor: José Luis Pereyra
Lighting: Miguel Millán
Sound: Sergio Sarmiento
Sound monitoring: Fernando Durán
Maquinista: David Iglesias
Sastre: Adolfo Martínez
Gerente: José Luis Pereyra
Production assistants: Yolanda Martínez, Ester Miranda
Production: Saba Danza, S.L.
General coordination: Mariana Gyalui
Website: www.sarabaras.com

Sara Baras' Ballet Flamenco performed "Sueños" ("Dreams") at the Teatro Lope De Vega in Madrid, Spain from August 17 to September 12 as the last part of the second annual Chivas Regal Festival of Dance. Ms. Baras was preceded by Mayte Martín Y Belén Maya ("Flamenco de Cámara"), Antonio Márquez ("Noche Flamenca"), Ballet Español de Murcia ("Penélope" - Compañia Carmen y Matlilde Rubio), and Gitana Cortés Company ("De Amor Odio" - Una historia de Joaquin Cortes).

Teatro Lope De Vega is located at Gran Via 57 in Madrid Spain (Metro stop is Plaza de España). The price of tickets in the balcony was 15 Euros and somewhat more for orchestra seats. The seats are very comfortable with plenty of leg room.

Sara Baras in Sueños (Dreams)
Photo courtesy of Sara Baras

Sara Baras in Sueños (Dreams)
Photo courtesy of Sara Baras

Sara Baras in Sueños (Dreams)
Photo courtesy of Sara Baras

Sara Baras in Sueños (Dreams)
Photo courtesy of Sara Baras

More Adventures in Madrid

Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

  • Show me this Paso Doble - looking for dance in Madrid - 9/10/2004 - by Robert Abrams.

  • Flamenco at Torres Bermejas - 9/10/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Air France.

  • Melonera Festival 2004 - 9/11/2004 - by Robert Abrams.

  • Salsa at El Son in Madrid - 9/11/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by LaDuca Shoes.

  • Sara Baras' Ballet Flamenco in Sueños (Dreams) - 9/12/2004 - by Robert Abrams. - Article sponsored by Danskin.

  • Concluding thoughts on Dance in Spain - 9/21/2004 - by Robert Abrams.

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