It has taken Edwin Aparicio 18 years to craft a world-class flamenco ensemble right here in the nation’s capital. Credit GALA Theatre for having nurtured this project for so long and continuing to present Edwin & company to audiences at their theatre. The latest Aparicio confection, ‘Flamenco Men’ made its debut at the theatre on Friday, November 4 for one weekend only.
Flamenco Aparicio Dance Co. presented a solid, authentic and daring show. The group consisted of the soulful singer from Malaga, Amparo Heredia, with the wonderful nickname ‘La Repompilla’ and the equally remarkable voice of Francisco Orozco, ‘El Yiyi’, who sang marvelous flamenco renditions while playing the ‘cajon’, a typical percussive instrument in the flamenco idiom. The troupe added a piano player who also doubled on the cello, Gonzalo Grau, somewhat innovative and outside the normal flamenco instrumentation.
The dance ensemble consisted of four male performers. Aparicio, who appeared in a few of the group pieces and performed one major solo toward the end of the show, the short, curly haired powerhouse, Ricardo ‘El Niño’ Osorio, a veteran of the company, whose performance of ‘Ambiguo’ with Aparicio was perhaps his most impressive rendition. The other two dancers, Ivan Orellana and Gabriel Matias were mesmerizing on stage.
The two finest dances of the evening were the solo performance of Orellana, in a ‘petenera’ titled, ‘Inherente’, that reminded this viewer of the great flamenco dancer, Joaquin Cortés. Lithe, tall, with long arms and a graceful, balletic bearing, Orellana danced with a combination of soft, flowing ballet movements and graceful, almost feminine pirouettes and glissandos. The haunting melody of the cello and the soaring dirge-like background chant made for an austere, passionate composition!
The Brazilian, Gabriel Matias, followed Orellana with an intriguing ‘farruca’ styled piece titled, ‘Claroscuro’. Gabriel’s face has a distinctly feminine softness and his sheer, body colored pants and hip thrusting, bare chested movements emphasized a combination of male/female energy. He ran barefoot across the stage in a haunting vulnerability that once again, fused both male & female energies.
In fact, Aparicio Dance Company has chosen this niche for themselves. An emphasis on male dancers, an exploration of homoerotic themes and a furious display of both gentleness, resigned desperation and anger. Certainly both ‘Inherente’ and “Claroscuro’ are paeans to these feelings. The homosexual tradition in flamenco is quite common and dates back through centuries of flamenco folklore.
Join GALA for the final weekend of the 2022 Fuego Flamenco series November 10-13 when they welcome Flamenco Spain Arts and Culture, directly from Madrid, with their spectacle ‘Alejandra’. This should be the climactic ending to what has been a very good flamenco season at GALA.