David Coria & David Lagos Company:  ¡Fandango!  – part of the Flamenco Festival – review

“ ¡Fandango! captivated and enthralled each one of my senses. This work is vital, forcing the audience to erupt in praise at such a glorious feat of dance theatre.”
Sadler’s Wells
Review by: Gerrard Martin
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Published: Monday 10 June 2024, 10:00pm

David Coria - Fandango - Flamenco Festival © Alain Sherrer
David Coria – Fandango – Flamenco Festival © Alain Sherrer

For over 20 years the Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells has been a highlight in their calendar. Flamenco dates back to the 14th / 15th century and is a genre that has many cultural influences e.g. the Moors and the Iberian Romani. My experience of Flamenco has been limited to a few short viewings, at touristic taverns in Barcelona. These were positive experiences, so I jumped at the chance to see more of this dynamic art form.

David Coria and David Largos Company presented iFandango, a contemporary perspective on traditional Spanish culture. A slow fade of lights and the theatre is bathed in blackness, melodic music fills the auditorium, looped notes from a saxophone transform the air. A dancer stands in a pool of red light, while four performers circle him – turning, gesticulating, flagellating, like migrating birds in distress.

Five exceptional dancers left there imprint on the stage that night; David Coria (choreographer), Flor Oz, Paula Comitre, Marta Galvez and Ivan OrellanaDavid Lagos a sublime vocalist headed an extraordinary line up of talented musicians: saxophonist Luis Gonzalez, guitarist Alfredo Lagos and percussionist (electronics and sound designer) Daniel Munoz. The musicians introduced sound scores that were pulsating, urgent and hypnotic – arresting to the ear, causing the audience to lean into the powerfully dramatic and visceral dance that was on display.

As the dance ensues, scarves are unveiled images of hot scorching earth, deep mourning and frenzied turmoil are imagined. The ensemble salute and chant, beckoning the vocalist David Lagos on to stage. His voice so penetrating it would shake the core of the earth; resonate, impactful and soul stirring.

Saxophone and guitar accompanies his sonorous vocals, which serve to punctuate the memorising movement. The weaving and interplay of darting limbs, syncopated feet and sensuous gestures were so palpable that they hung in the air. A stark duet offers contrast – tender, but forceful, there are elements of push and pull in their contact work, creating an empathic reaction.

Next a female soloist commands the stage, carving through the space assured, agile and brilliant. Her strength, precision and fearlessness is not only demonstrated by her percussive feet, but by her fluid floorwork also.

The first section of the work pauses, again with the lights fading back to black, and a velvety black sheet thrown over the performers – all is silent.

Golden light appears upstage as sand descend from the sky in two piles. A serenade is played and sets the scene for a performer in a cream linen / lace skirt to cover the space – rolling floor bound seduced by the music. Heavy drumming and vocals reminiscent of northern Africa are the backdrop to the entrance of more dancers clad in skirts – they glide and snap their cassinettes – a visual combination of machines tilling fertile soil, a consortium of crabs dominating their territory and ritualistic revellers celebrating the land and people that occupy it.

Darkness descends as a stunningly impactful duet about sexual violence is presented; bodies recoil, grab, tussle and confront as the rhythmic battle unfolds.

A female figure upstage left, bare torso, dressed in a long skirt with a train, her back is towards us and at the tail end of her skirt, legs and feet poke out. This breathtaking visual image captures the Greek mythical creature Lamia; beguiling and wielding her long hair while she navigates the space, twisting, back bending and tossing her skirt as she displays intricate footwork, whilst playfully, teasing and duetting with a male dancer.

As proceedings slowly conclude, David Coria literally resurrects the exhausted performers with the water of life; dancers lay on their backs over the edge of the stage, as he pours water into each dancer’s mouth. Hydrated, the dancers parade and celebrate in joyous unison phrases and solo spectacles, this is always in conjunction with the musicians and vocalist.

¡Fandango! captivated and enthralled each one of my senses. Narratively, I found myself guided through scenes of beauty, drama, devastation, tradition, culture and legacy. The performers always leading with their individuality to convey meaning through their articulate bodies and voices. This work is vital, forcing the audience to erupt in praise at such a glorious feat of dance theatre.

Need to know: David Coria & David Lagos Company’s ¡Fandango! was part of the Flamenco Festival at Sadler’s Wells on Monday 10 June 7.30pm. The Flamenco Festival finishes on 15 June 2024. More Info