Review: EMERALD flamenco theatre – intense and passionate stories (2020)

An extraordinary array of personal stories flicker and merge during 45 minutes of intense performance by flamenco dancers Marina Tamayo and Aitor Hernandez, performing in Auckland as part of Summer at Q and Auckland Fringe at TAPAC.

Their years of professional discipline enrich dancing saturated in emotion and bravura, by turns fierce and wild, explosive and anguished, or reined in along a knife edge. An underlying bed of rhythm comes from a recorded soundtrack of contemporary flamenco music.

While most stories are shared between the two performers, at times one story comes from contrasting viewpoints, sympathetic to both sides – such as mother and son, priest and penitent, landlord and tenant, or vampire and mesmerised victim. Even in the most embattled exchanges, though, there is an underlying sense that love is the animating force.

Dressed in beautifully designed black costumes, Tamayo and Hernandez move through a shadowy space with clothing hanging from the rafters above and hinting at the watching presence of others who have passed on.

The dancers prowl, whirl and spin, exchanging sequences of drumming heels and emphatic stamping, or come elegantly together as like-minded partners. A highlight is an extended sculptural solo by Hernandez in which he examines his identity.

[Q Theatre Loft, 14-15 February. Summer at Q season]
[Auckland Fringe – TAPAC 24-26 February]

Review originally written for NZ Herald.

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