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Bonnie Rosenstock
Music and Dance Reviews
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Curro de Candela's "Afrogitano" Reaches Beyond Flamenco

by Bonnie Rosenstock
July 1, 2015
Nuevo Teatro Alcalá
Calle Jorge Juan, 62
Madrid, Spain 28009
Metros: Príncipe de Vergara or Goya
Tel.: +34 914 35 34 03
Curro de Candela
"Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco."
June 25 - July 12, 2015
Everyone connected to Curro de Candela's "Afrogitano" kept telling me what a shame I wouldn't be in Madrid for the premiere on June 25. But to make up for it, Miguel Cañas, choreographer, flamenco dancer and teacher whom I met at Centro de Arte Flamenco y Danza Española Amor de Dios (more about the school in another article) and Curro's sometime collaborator, invited me to sit in on one of their last rehearsals on June 22. We took the metro to the southern reaches of Madrid (near the glorious, winding park along the Manzanares River), to the Asociacíon de Profesionales de la Danza de la Comunidad de Madrid (calle Antonio Vicent, 65). There, in the large airy studio were the "Afrogitano" dancers, singers, musicians, the portable floor (which will be taken to the theater) and its creator, the incandescent Curro de Candela.

Curro, 27, is the youngest member of a long, distinguished dynasty of artists (through his father) that began with José Greco (1918-2000), the first major international star, credited with popularizing Spanish dance. His pedigree also descends from his mother Candela, the renowned gypsy flamenco singer. As he told me, "I have been on stage since I was in my mother's womb."

"Afrogitano" is Curro's first major show in Madrid and will run for three weeks (June 25 to July 12) at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalá. It is one hour and forty-five minutes without intermission. It is autobiographical and describes, through music and dance, his life experiences, artistic evolution, overcoming obstacles and moving forward. Through the numerous scene and mood changes he communicates those universal human emotions that an audience can identify with—loneliness, loss of love, desolation, pain, as well as joy and passion. "I am better at dancing than talking," he said. "In fact, it's better that I dance," he quipped.

And dance he does. Curro is the quintessence of a flamenco dancer: passion, elegance, strength, expressiveness, vulnerability, focus and sex appeal. The section I saw was the ending that brings him to understanding and acceptance. Curro dances part of it solo, giving it all the flamenco footwork and emotion that he can bring forth. Then he and six women dancers, trained in flamenco as well as contemporary, dance in unison. (He is the only male in the show.) Suramy Suárez Maldonado appears and joins the group. Suárez, a guest artist, is a Cuban dancer schooled in modern, contemporary and folkloric dance and was prima ballerina with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba. In a section I saw on video, she and Curro dance a tender solo together.

There are approximately 19 artists in the production, including an array of Cuban percussionists, flamenco singers and guitarists, a pianist, a bass player and a trumpet player. The two nationalities bring their country's rich rhythms to the production. One flamenco guitarist is the renowned musical producer Juan José Suárez Salazar, "Paquete," winner of two Emmys, and one of the cantaors is Enrique, "El Piculabe."

Curro has trained in many dance disciplines, including flamenco, classical, Spanish dance, contemporary and Afro-Cuban, which he discovered during his stay in Cuba (He has also lived in Mexico and the U.S.) He studied with renowned flamenco dancer Cristóbal Reyes (who also taught his nephew Joaquín Cortes), Cortes himself, as well as María Magdalena, Merche Esmeralda and Manolete.

One of his stated purposes in this work is to break down the barriers between contemporary dance, Afro-Cuban and flamenco. From what I saw, I think he nailed it.
Curro de Candela's 'Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco.' Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

Curro de Candela's "Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco." Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

Curro de Candela's 'Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco.' Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

Curro de Candela's "Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco." Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

Poster for Curro de Candela's 'Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco.' Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

Poster for Curro de Candela's "Afrogitano: Más Que Flamenco." Photo courtesy of Curro de Candela.

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