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Flamenco Festival at Sadler's Wells: Rocio Molina

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Last night I went to see Rocio Molina perform at Sadler’s Wells as part of their 10th annual Flamenco Festival.  One of the great things about this festival is the clever way the organisers book such different proponents of this old and wonderful art form.  In the space of ten days audiences are treated to everything from traditional gypsy style ‘flamenco puro’ to very 21st century ‘fusion flamenco’, and everything in between.

Somewhere in between is the marvellous Rocio Molina, and her very talented trio of singers and guitarists.  Her programme, Danzaora, ran for 90 minutes with no interval, and she was onstage almost the whole time, just stopping once for a short break whilst her guitarist played the most beautiful solo piece of flamenco guitar.  If a guitar can have ‘duende’, his did.  Unfortunately I did not buy a programme so don’t have the names of the three men;  my apologies.


And so to the dancing.  I adore the traditional, gypsy-style of flamenco, and in the past have not enjoyed women dancing it in trousers, or men turning this noble dance into an ego trip, so have largely avoided modern interpreters of this dance.  However, I heard great things about this young dancer last year, so when I got the opportunity to see her I jumped at it, and am very glad I did.  Molina brings an originality all her own to flamenco, whilst still respecting and dancing the traditional style.  She interprets the music with gusto, with sensitivity and with understand of the whole heritage of which she is a part.  Her arms, wrists and fingers are beautiful, gently conveying quiet emotion one minute, fiercely slicing through the air the next, her face reflecting the emotion her body is expressing.  She has the most pliant back, executing rapid corkscrew twists one after the other, holding a backbend for just long enough to make us gasp.  Her strong legs and feet are incredible;  she taps her feet with astonishing speed, abruptly changing rhythms and, by doing so, emotion.  One minute they are bashing out anger and frustration, the next, barely audible, something much more internal.  She did an amazing piece where she tapped around an empty wine glass, building up the speed and ferocity until I was sure she was going to step on it and break it….which she eventually did, but only because she wanted to!  In another section, she slowly comes downstage holding a small drum which was lit from the inside.  Her fingers tapping a rhythm, her feet began to follow, building up to an amazing climax.  Likewise, she and one of her trio stood opposite each other with a small high table in between them, and had a rhythm competition with their fingers and feet which was a joy to behold.  But this was not only about technical ability; Molina is an artist of much depth, and has worked very hard on putting together this piece which shows us the best of traditional and modern flamenco, and, perhaps, where its future lies.

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