Mosaico Andalus, The Essence of Flamenco

By Djinn Shockley

Thunder roared while lightening crashed Saturday, March 17, but Mother Nature's wrath didn't hold a candle to the furious performance going on inside the Bomhard Theater. The props were simple, with a backdrop screen that alternated colors for each set, a wooden table and three wooden chairs, but believe me, they didn't need anything else. The stage exploded into life during "Mosaico Andalus". This emotional performance breathed new life into tradition by combining both ancient and modern versions Flamenco. The end result was a powerful form of Flamenco that surpassed the age old art while capturing its very essence.

The performers kept the audience captivated during the entire show, and even the children were mesmerized. Many times during the performance crowd members cheered and shouted "Ole!" as they followed the mood set by the musicians, singers and dancers. There are few shows that receive standing ovations, but "Mosaico Andalus" received three, twice during and an extended standing ovation at the end of the performance. FlamencoTalk truly gave Flamenco lovers everywhere something to talk about with "Mosaico Andalus".

Antonio Granjero was guest choreographer, co-producer and also performed during "Mosaico Andalus". His performance was nothing short of amazing. One of the three standing ovations came immediately following his "Soleá." Granjero's feet struck the stage quicker than lightning strikes providing a complimenting tempo to the flow of the guitar. His charismatic persona and dramatic gestures moved the crowd to cheers, awes and laughter. The large stage seemed too small to contain his powerful presence.

Granjero has international renown and has performed in Italy, France, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland. Queen Elizabeth II has even enjoyed seeing his Flamenco shows in England.

There is so much to say about the dancers I could write an article on them alone. During their first set, these ladies wore elegant blue gowns and carried white fans. The company of dancers was Mariya Tarakanova (FlamencoTalk, Louisville), Juliana Bravo (Camino Flamenco, Louisville), Kristen Mercker (Camino Flamenco, Louisville), Brenna O'Hara (Camino Flamenco Louisville) and Christina Smith (Camino Flamenco, Louisville), The perfection of their well-choreographed steps replaced the need for any drum as they spiraled across the stage. The fans would snap open and close with a crisp sound to emphasize a dramatic climax in the music. Alegrías, Fandangos, Malaguenas, Abandolaos and Bulerías were all performed by the ladies as a group. Each set they would don a different costume, gracing the stage in reds, plums, and one somewhat-Victorian style, striped Flamenco dress. The ending act brought an array of colorful dresses and styles as each dancer wore something unique.

For Siguiriyas, the theater went dark, and a light streamed across the stage, giving the impression of a door opening in a pitch-black room. A shadow appeared, and then Mariya Tarakanova flowed across the stage in a black satin dress to the edge of the feigned doorway. The theater might have caught fire at that moment and no one would have noticed because all eyes were on Mariya. When the music slowed, her arms and hands slowly rose and fell, her fingers twirled as if playing with the notes themselves. When the music intensified, her body would whip gracefully, melding into the music.

The Tientos –Tangos was performed by Tarakanova and Granjero. These two incredibly talented dancers defined the name duet. Every move was in unison. Each step they took rang out against the floor as if they'd shared the same foot when they took it. Mariya's soft and feminine gestures were complimented by Antonio's masculine, but no less graceful movements.

The soul filled sounds of Flamenco guitar were provided by Brent Del Bianco. It would be hard to imagine any other guitarist playing "Mosaico Andalus" after seeing the mystical connection he made with the dancers and singers on the stage. During almost the entire show Del Bianco's fingers lovingly caressed the strings of his guitar, filling the theater with melodies. The guitar would softly cry to the audience, then burst into a melodic array so filled with intensity one would thing his strings might catch fire from the friction.

Roberto Lorente, from Madrid, Spain and José Cortés Fernandez, from France, both sang to tell the stories as the dancers moved to the music. Both of these singers relayed the emotional tales with strong vocals that enveloped the listeners. The raw emotion they portrayed with gestures and vocal fluctuations left no question as to the passion they felt.

This was one of the most amazing performances I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. This collaboration of musicians, dancers and singers not only performed well together, but the passion they shared for their art was visible to all who were there. Each performer was in tune with the music. Their facial expressions and gestures clearly exhibited the love they share for Flamenco. I would recommend Flamenco lovers everywhere to watch one of their performances if you ever get an opportunity. Personally, I can't wait to attend the next FlamencoTalk''s event.