Leeds Town Hall
Paco Peña, one of the world’s most renowned flamenco guitarists, brought his dance company to Leeds Town Hall for his latest show: Quimeras. This scorching hot performance, directed by the Southbank Centre’s artistic director Jude Kelly, offers an intoxicating fusion of traditional flamenco with African dance and music, marking a celebration of the sharing of two cultures.
Fascinatingly, it combines music and dance with storytelling, and incorporates narrative and poetry, including that of an African migrant leaving his homeland in the desperate hope of making a new and better life for himself in Europe.
an intoxicating fusion of traditional flamenco with African dance and music
The performance opens with a breathtakingly beautiful guitar solo from Peña himself, which does well to transport the Leeds audience to a sultry Andalusian evening, and the heat does not falter from here. The most striking moments of the performance are when the two cultures come together to perform the same routine simultaneously. The entirely upright posture of the flamenco dancers provide a stark contrast with the more grounded, fluid and contemporary moves of the African dancers that are enthralling to watch. At one point, dance is accompanied by an operatic and almost sorrowful Spanish voice which highlights the emotional intensity and passion of flamenco dance. This is then jilted as the African dancers reply with a joyous and exuberant routine, all in time with the rhythms of the drum beats.
Peña is clearly making bold political statements through dance here, particularly through the times in the performance where the two cultures seem to be at conflict. This is indeed, in the end, resolved, as each one attempts to teach the other their own distinctive dances.
Undoubtedly, the dancing is faultless; the sensual hand movements, the rhythmic stamping of the feet, and the daring turns and leaps are enough to leave the audience parched in their seats.