Sublime is the title of this year’s production of the Maria Osende Flamenco Company.
And the world premiere show, which wraps up a three-night run at Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth, was indeed sublime, inspiring an enthusiastic Valentine’s Day audience to a standing ovation.
The night opened with Listen, a piece set to Steve Reich’s minimalist music, over-layered with Money playing live, and would have been at home in a modern dance performance. It then journeyed through classical dance with balletic Dream, set to the aria Casta Diva from the opera Norma. It ended in a seguiriya, a traditional form of flamenco featuring the entire company in a piece pulsing with despair.
Perhaps most sublime of all, in the evening of many moods, were two impassioned solos by the Madrid-born Osende, who danced with the National Ballet of Spain and the Berlin Opera Ballet in Germany before focusing on flamenco.
Delight, a Taranta-style flamenco number accompanied by the extremely talented Vega, immediately followed the memorable blues-meets-flamenco-work Feel.
Feel began with the spotlight on Smith, and a gorgeous arrangement of the 1920s classic Love Me or Leave Me, sung in her clear voice dripping with longing, augmented by sweet notes from Money. Eventually Osende appeared in the background in an elegant red dress, arms mesmerizing as they traced slow, beautiful arcs above her head.
The music subtly shifted to Spanish-inflected, with Smith joining Rojo and singing a traditional song, while Osende slowly twirled her skirt and arched her back, displaying impressive control and flexibility and at times looking like a Henry Moore sculpture.
Then Vega took over for a solo accompaniment, and the music became more melancholy, while his precise, crisp playing echoed the precision of Osende’s feet and arm movements. The multiple layers of the long skirt flowed in Osende’s expert hands, over her head, around her slim frame and above her ever-stomping feet as she twirled and posed.
Spain, which opened the second act, was a jaw-dropping tour de force with Osende clad in a bolero jacket, white shirt and tuxedo pants, powerful and passionate. Accompanied by Vega, Rojo, and Dahms and MacMillan, clapping and beating the square wooden stools on which they sat, Osende simply commanded the stage, as she demonstrated rhythmic foot and hand movements of such speed and complexity they defy description.
Among the most pleasing moments — for their sheer innovation and beauty — were the modern-dance-inspired Listen, performed in short black dresses by Osende and 17-year-old Nardi, the youngest Canadian dancer to study flamenco in Spain, and the lyrical Dream, danced in exquisite long white dresses with extended ruffled trains by Nardi and Power.Osende choreographed the 1 3/4-hour show, all new work with the exception of the theatrical Raices, the concluding seguiriya, described in the program as “tragedy, desolation, death and persecution, and the public expression of deep emotions,” an intense and bold number.