House of Flamenka

“An evening of dance that beat all expectations”.

House of Flamenka delivered an evening of dance that beat all expectations. What I thought would be a traditional flamenco performance unfolded into a captivating journey through a dynamic fusion of dance styles and themes.

The show, with its bold creativity and a masterful blend of traditional and contemporary elements is the hand clapping, foot stomping and hell raising you expect from flamenco and so much more!

The proscenium adorned with a striking pink neon sign, bearing the show's title, 'House of Flamenka,' immediately set the tone for the evening. Set and costume designer Jasmine Swan's intricate detailing, with bursts of colour splashed across the industrial backdrop and mismatched curtains, created a visually stunning and immersive experience.

From the first beat, the stage pulsated with an explosion of energy, capturing the essence of flamenco with mesmerizing authenticity. Karen Ruimy's dual role as a singer and dancer, interwoven seamlessly with the all-male ensemble's performance, added a layer of interdisciplinary artistry that was both enchanting and invigorating.

Under the direction of Arlene Philips, each segment boasted titles such as 'Only Fans,' 'You Can Keep Your Hat On,' and 'Broken Dreams,' providing a playful touch that complemented the powerful choreography. The skilled use of props, including hats and fans, enhanced the performances, showcasing a brilliant synchronisation of movement and rhythm that enthralled the audience.

The intricate play of lighting, meticulously curated by Doug FF Cairns, further elevated the performance. Not only did the lighting design contribute to setting the mood, but it also played a pivotal role in highlighting the dancers, creating moments of enchanting illusions and breathtaking visual transitions that kept the audience spellbound.

The performance subtly hinted at thought-provoking reflections on gender roles. The all-male ensemble's skilled use of feminine elements such as fans traditionally for bailaora (women) and shawls used in a similar way to the paso doble cape presented a compelling exploration of social norms.

The costumes were somewhere between traditional flamenco and fetish camp. Most of the cast wore bondage harnesses, some in very tight shorts which did fit with hints of the 'Pose' television series and a voguing dance battle. I feel as if a traditional flamenco and street/ modern combination might have worked better, with slight details to highlight individual performers.

The exceptional talent of each performer shone through, making it challenging to pinpoint individual contributions through their collective brilliance.

As I left the theatre, the reasoning of 'Flamenka' was in my mind. The ‘a’ could be a play on gender, but the ‘k’ passed me by.

This show was reviewed on the 18th October 2023.  House of Flamenka runs at the Peacock Theatre, Sadlers Well until the 28th October 2023.  Tickets available here: House of Flamenka - Peacock Theatre - Sadler's Wells (sadlerswells.com)

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides

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Photo credit: Danny Kaan

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