Dallas — Nothing says “love” and “passion” like Flamenco! Perfectly timed to open on Valentine’s Day, The Flame Foundation invited audiences to experience this exploration of emotion, relationship, and desire through the lens of Spanish painter Joan Miró. His paintings served as a centerpiece for 88 Keys Unlock Joan Miro’s Flamenco Dancer’s Heart—a collaborative exchange amongst vocalist, guitarist, pianist, and dancers. Hand-picked by the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the City of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs, this production is one of eight shows featured in the 2018/2019 Elevator Project season. After experiencing this fantastic display of Spanish culture and artistry, it’s easy to see why they belong in this series.
Within the walls of Hamon Hall, a runway-style stage divided the room into three vantage points—constructing a cozy, intimate space. The five performers stood under a projection of Miró’s first image of a Spanish dancer and clapped softly in time with pianist Alex Conde’s steady rhythms.
Bold red lights shone on dancers Antonio Arrebola and Delilah Buitrón Arrebola as they faced one another in the center of the runway. Their aggressive stomps, precise rhythms, and snapping fingers accented Conde’s gentle melodies and guitarist Calvin Hazen’s airy strums. A building intensity bubbled within the relationship of the performers as pointed eye contact and shrill interjections from vocalist José Cortés penetrated the space.
The forceful movement of the flamenco dancers found balance in the fluid notes from the musical accompaniment. Delicate, complex rhythms sprinkled with plucky syncopation hypnotized both performers and audience members. These dreamy sounds propelled a continuous flow that hung in the air even in the silent spaces. The musical interludes also gave viewers time to absorb Miró’s bright, abstract projected paintings.
Returning to the stage in a pastel blue fringed dress, bailadora Delilah Buitrón Arrebola joined her partner for a brief back and forth exchange filled with stinging stares, soft, melting hits, and quick spins.
After asserting her position through defiant steps, the dancer sent away her partner for a sultry solo. Arrebola’s fluidity was mesmerizing—her expansive reaches, subtle chest lifts, and twisting hips undulated in time with the Hazen’s soothing sounds. However, her softness soon expanded to sharper elbows, sudden shaking hands, and a zealous shuffling footwork section.
Following suit, her partner then took his turn in presenting a strong, angular solo centered on insanely fast rhythmic runs and challenging syncopation. Cortés battled Antonio’s forceful steps with encouraging exclamations that built additional musical structures for the dancer’s high-speed riffs.
But these impressive moves were just the start. Post-intermission, the intensity from both dancers and musicians increased as the couple returned with dramatic stretches and longing looks. Circling around each other with rolling wrists and twisting necks, the duet separated and returned using flowy foot swipes and harsh upper body holds.
To close the show, Antonio Arrebola’s final solo dazzled spectators and performers alike. After the exit of his partner, Arrebola’s movements became slow and mournful. Boiling with desperation and loss, he ground his feet into the floor, generating rebounding sounds throughout the space. Bladed hands and bent arms honed this linear, harsh tone until he exploded into agile turns and jumps. But the most satisfying moment of his outburst occurred in his rapid footwork and nimble riffs. His foot appeared to dangle from his ankle in swift, twitching, strikes until rippling taps brought audience members to a standing ovation.
While the passionate exchanges of the dancers captivated viewers, the most impressive part of the evening was the strong connection amongst the collaborators. Each performer managed to secure a strong, individual role while also relying fully on the music, movement, and visual representations for a comprehensive presentation of Spanish virtuosity. Joan Miró’s vivid yet minimalist depictions of Spanish dancers spilled into sensual visual, kinesthetic, and auditory representations thanks to The Flame Foundation’s talented collaborators.