QPAC: Transporting the theatre to a vast land of ancient cultural wealth, Gypsy Pathways was a stunning show, full of passion.
Gypsy Pathways is the 13th production from the dance company Flamenco Fire and its fourth at QPAC qualifies as one of their most outstanding creations to date. The opening night brought a full house to its knees with warmth and spirit.
This event promised special artists showcasing the talents of flamenco musicians and dancers and its Romani origins, and it delivered. Starting with the heavenly voice of kathak singer and dancer Sulagna Basu (Woodford Folk Festival/Global Fiesta), it transported the theatre to a vast land of ancient cultural wealth, expanding a dialogue of sound. Accompanied by tabla player Arka ‘Tito’ Basu, the performance moved towards the fusion of Romani and Spanish traditional and contemporary music.
Composer/director/guitarist Andrew Veivers, along with fellow musicians Andrej Vujicic (flamenco percussionist), Kieren Ray (guitarist) and Shenton Gregory (violin), created energetic arrangements of voice and sound that imbued the true sense of flamenco’s heartfelt passion. And singer James Paul (director, Sydney Street Choir) imparted an authentic air of the deep gypsy tradition with verve.
The dance performances unveiled colourful, dynamic displays of traditional choreography (by Simone Pope), each one an enriching and powerful experience bringing forth a different face of the spirit of flamenco – from brooding and sensual to demanding and fierce to with playful and celebratory. Four dancers spun stories in gloriously executed interactions with one another or in breathtaking solos. Stunning dresses and costuming helped to construct new atmospheres for the dancers’ sequences.
Dancer Sebastian Sanchez gave a dazzling performance in ‘Solea por Bulerias’, exhilarating an audience reduced to whistles and cries of ‘Ole!’ and ‘Guapo!’. I’ve rarely witnessed such an audibly excited crowd in this venue before. His tenacious, fiery solo took us to a place where the essence of fervour, grace and pride in the gypsy heart is celebrated. I was so moved by the rhythms and visual splendour that I too began to shout with excitement to the players and dancers! Ole!
The unpretentious costuming of the musicians in authentic gypsy wear leant focus to the music, which created an atmosphere both personal and traditional. It transcended the theatrical experience and you almost felt as though you were a privileged guest at a private party of a gypsy household.
The solo works by the incomparable Francesca (La Chica) Grima – who danced with beauty, elegance and joy, and just a touch of cheekiness! – had me spellbound and elated. She masterfully took to the stage, enveloping the audience in her ecstatic dance ‘Tus Ojillos Negros’, whilst creating a mesmerising dialogue with her stunning white flamenco gown in ‘Cantinas’. The expression of emotion and gestural skill utilising shawl and long flamenco skirt talked of the secrets of the feminine and human nature.
The artistic excellence brought to patrons through this show is proof that our global relationships are to be celebrated and admired. Gypsy Pathways is highly recommended.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Director: Andrew Veivers
Choreographic Design: Simone Pope
Lighting Designer/Production Manager: Richard ‘Zak’ Harrison
QPAC Playhouse, Brisbane
2–4 February 2012
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What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level