Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Reunión

Ana Morales
Flamenco Edition ‘17
The Lowry, Salford
12 May 2017

Flamenco can be described in many ways but you certainly can’t call it modest. It is a flamboyant, dramatic, swaggering, aggressive macho style, yet at The Lowry the mood for Reunión is that of a group of friends around a campfire.

Florencio Ortiz has lit the stage in subdued hues. There is a percussionist, and guitarist Miguel Angel Cortes is seated discreetly to the rear while singers Miguel Ortega and Juan Jose Amador lounge on a leather sofa looking like they have stepped out of ‘Gogglebox’, watching proceeding and muttering the occasional ‘olé!’

Momentum builds slowly in Reunión with minimal percussion backing. Ana Morales stalks around the stage in a regal manner. There is little of the explosive footwork one associates with Flamenco but rather a leisurely build-up as Morales stretches and preens like some exotic beast tracking her prey.

You certainly couldn’t accuse dance partner David Coria of being discreet – he positively radiates sex. Drenched in sweat and suited and booted, Coria pounds out a rhythm with his feet that sounds like an approaching train. It is a wonderful demonstration of the art of Flamenco where all of the skill lies in the footwork. The dancers are rooted to the ground, there are no dramatic leaps and the trunk of the body is held rigid. It seems formal and ritualised but has a searing passion underneath.

Ana Morales is every bit Coria’s equal but with a subtly different style. Her dancing is tighter, speaking not so much of control as repression – there is the feeling of a volcano about to erupt as Morales dances.

Reunión is a show that takes itself very seriously and, as a result, at times nudges close to self-parody. Miguel Ortega and Juan Jose Amador are marvellous singers but their dramatic wailing does make you wonder if anything could be worthy of such distress.

Objects become part of the ritual, with a hint of fetish about the way that David Coria wraps Ana Morales tightly in her shawl. Morales stalks the stage like a bullfighter, trailing her cape behind and makes the ruffled skirt she wears part of the dance.

Great use is made of handclaps and finger clicking to set a rhythm. Reunión must be the only show where the audience is not invited to clap along – mess up the rhythm and you could ruin the dance.

Reviewer: David Cunningham