Isabel Bayon Compania Flamenca with Miguel Poveda, “La Puerta Abierta”

5 Apr

There was a definite energy in the air before the performance as people milled about and settled into their seats. Quite, suddenly the atmosphere was pierced by the cry of an offstage male singer- the beginning of the martinete. A mesmerized hush fell over the audience as ears and eyes opened, focused on the dark stage.

While the echo reverberated in the hall and in the hearts and minds of the audience, Isabel Bayon stepped into a semi-light spot and with a flick of her wrist and stomp of her heel she had everyone in thrall. It was one of the most intimate and unique performances I’ve had the opportunity to experience- there was a simple, raw energy to her every movement on stage.

A subtle visual shift from the spot to blue lighting signaled the transition from martinete to the variaciones Goldberg. A recording of Bach’s Goldberg variations played and in an instant two musical traditions fused in a unique artistic form as Isabel Bayon danced in response. Her performance was intriguing, mesmerizing both to the eyes and ears. Much like Bach, Isabel seemed to take a theme, an iconic pose, and worked it into variations, creating a beautiful dance sequence. I could never have imagined that Bach and Flamenco would be such a perfect match. It just goes to show that music has no boundaries!

For the solea, Miguel Poveda stole the stage with his captivating, heart wrenching cante. His emotive melismas seemed to be coming straight from his soul. While being completely taken by his delivery, I could hear the eastern influence on Flamenco music by the particular scale and notes used.

The milonga was expressed with a more fluid dance than the martinete. Curiously, it is not characteristic of “traditional” flamenco; rather it is a form native to Argentina and Uruguay. Apparently the term milonga comes from an expression that means “lyrics” and as if to justify the term, Miguel’s voice stole the stage.

Jesus Torres’ guitar solo was a mesmerizing performance. His fluid style and melancholic melodies were full of passionate energy. While the people seated behind me were still captivated by the fact that Isabel Bayon changed on stage, I was enraptured by Torres’ skill. My eyes were fixed on his guitar as he played up and down scales and chords that seemed to reflect an eastern influence.

The alegrias was one of the most visually and musically uplifting moments of the performance with all the musicians onstage, clapping the rhythm and calling out in response to Isabel Bayon’s dance. The atmosphere lightened and the energy onstage soared. However, as if to remind everyone of the roots and heritage of Flamenco, a recording of an old cante played, interrupting the alegrias momentarily, allowing a moment of reflection for the musicians and audience alike.

Miguel Poveda sang for Isabel Bayon during the pasodoble, which is not characteristic of “traditional” Flamenco music. Rather, it corresponds to the Pasodoble dance, a style of ballroom dancing attributed to Latin America, but with roots in France! The use of this particular style was a beautiful example of musical influence across the Atlantic. The musical reference was made concrete as Miguel and Isabela danced together ballroom style.

The recorded music played once again, capping the performance with a reference to the beginning and the performers exited via the open door at the back of the stage to a standing ovation. At first, I was surprised by the unassuming, bare simplicity of the performance as a whole. The bareness of the stage, as well as the minimalist stage and lighting design ensured the audience’s sensual focus on Isabel’s every gesture and the music’s every note. The venue seemed to shrink, becoming more intimate as the performance progressed.

Miguel and Isabel both had incredible stage presence and the combination of music and dance, singer and dancer, enhanced the performance. The rhythmic pulse kept by hand claps, snaps, and stomps seemed intricately complicated yet Isabel’s movements were always precise. As my first flamenco performance, it was definitely an unforgettable experience. It was a unique opportunity, an exposure to a style of music saturated with numerous influences, from gypsy and Arabic to Latin America.

Flamenco References:


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