Birmingham Troupe Corazon Flamenco Stomps and Twirls in Steamy “El Amor Brujo”

Posted by admin - November 10th, 2010

REVIEW, Sept. 2009, The Birmingham News, Birmingham, AL, By Michael Huebner

By definition, flamenco encompasses dance, drama and music. With “El Amor Brujo” (“Love, the Magician”), the Birmingham troupe Corazon Flamenco has stayed true to the genre’s multi-genre, Andalusian roots.

Led by its talented director, Irene Rimer, the company made an impressive showing Saturday at Levite Jewish Community Center with this tale of steamy romance, murder and ghostly apparitions.

Based roughly on the ballet of the same title by Manuel de Falla, it contains snatches of recorded orchestral music and narrative dialogue to push the action along. Rimer’s brilliant choreography served the drama well, but spoken exchanges were weak. Scenes such as Jose’s murder and a meeting with a witch were stilted and needed more coaching. They were rescued only by the dance numbers that followed. Scene changes, some with awkward silence and darkness, needed tightening.

Guitarist and singer Marija Temo impressed on several occasions as she heightened the action and filled interludes. A classical guitarist and orchestral soloist as well as a flamenco expert, Temo possesses immaculate technique and an expressive, penetrating voice. Her accompaniments of Rimer’s dance solos were the most memorable parts of the show. Guitarist Tony Arnold, also a paleontology professor at Florida State University, contributed some beautiful solos and duets.

Like classical ballet, flamenco is mostly about dance. Rimer’s choreographic vision thrives on the frenetic stomping and complex heel-to-toe rhythms that drive this centuries-old art form. Ensemble numbers carried out by her well-trained troupe generated a whirlwind of flowing colorful costumes and coordinated movements. Solo numbers, especially those by Rimer and Julia Quijano, combined passion with spectacle. Fine performances were also turned by Carlos Lencina, as Jose, and Cole Companion, as Carmelo.

Together with last year’s production of “Blood Wedding” and “El Amor Brujo,” Corazon Flamenco has staged two ballets that filmmaker Carlos Saura tackled in his trilogy of flamenco-inspired dance films. Only “Carmen” remains. If the company is so inclined, it would be a welcome completion of the cycle.


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