Juan Siddi Arte Fla­menco So­ci­ety

Juan Siddi Arte Fla­menco So­ci­ety Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, June 9

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Michael Wade Simp­son

Fla­menco au­di­ences in Santa Fe have wit­nessed first­hand the chang­ing for­tunes of dancer and chore­og­ra­pher Juan Siddi for the last 15 years. Siddi, who won the Mayor’s Award in 2011, was first re­cruited by María Benítez in 2002 to per­form with her com­pany on tour and in Santa Fe. It was Benítez who en­cour­aged Siddi to form a com­pany and take over her long-run­ning sum­mer gig at The Lodge at Santa Fe, which he did from 2008 to 2012. In 2013, Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let took over the man­age­ment of Juan Siddi Fla­menco Santa Fe. ASFB moved the group from the tiny venue at The Lodge to the rel­a­tively vast space at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter and sent the troupe on tour around the US, in­clud­ing en­gage­ments at Ja­cob’s Pil­low Dance Fes­ti­val in Becket, Mas­sachusetts, and the Joyce Theatre in New York. That re­la­tion­ship ended ear­lier this year.

What Siddi brought back to the Len­sic stage on June 9 was a lit­tle de­press­ing. In­stead of five fe­male dancers, lav­ish cos­tumes, a pi­ano jazz-in­flu­enced mu­si­cal take on fla­menco, and pol­ished pro­duc­tion ele­ments, the in­au­gu­ral pro­gram for his new group, Juan Siddi Arte Fla­menco So­ci­ety, was a bare-bones, un­der­re­hearsed af­fair with a plod­ding pace, stu­dent dancers tak­ing the place of pro­fes­sion­als, and a lot of mu­si­cal filler.

Ap­pear­ing with Siddi were Span­ish fla­menco mu­si­cians new to the Santa Fe stage — gui­tarist José Luis de la Paz and singers Manuela Mon­toya Cortes and José An­to­nio Bersabé Romero — along with com­pany vet­er­ans, singer José Cortés and cel­list Michael Kott. The more tra­di­tion­ally styled mu­sic for this pro­duc­tion was strong. Un­for­tu­nately, the mu­si­cians spread out their chairs in a semi­cir­cle on the wide Len­sic stage, and a sense of in­ti­macy was lost, even in par­tial dark­ness, with a smoke ma­chine blast­ing away in the wings and spot­lights aimed down un­flat­ter­ingly onto the mu­si­cians.

Este­fanía Nar­vaez, who has danced with Siddi’s com­pany since 2009, and is now based in Seville, was the sole pro­fes­sional fe­male dancer. Her pro­mo­tion from the cho­rus to a lead­ing role of­fered her a chance to shine, and early in the evening she seemed to have more at­tack with her arms, shoul­ders, and back than Siddi did. The open­ing duet with Nar­vaez and Siddi was a re­chore­ographed solo, a soleá, one of the most haunting of fla­menco forms. For what­ever rea­son, Siddi chose to turn this into a dance for two, and the emo­tional power of the form seemed di­min­ished by his chore­og­ra­phy, with the per­form­ers tak­ing turns watch­ing each other in­stead of danc­ing as a true join­ing of souls. Nar­vaez also chore­ographed her own solo, Canastera, which may have been in­spired by María la Canastera, a dancer from Granada who en­ter­tained tourists for decades in one of that city’s most fa­mous caves.

For Siddi’s big solo, the cast brought out a wooden table, and he climbed up to give the evening’s only truly dy­namic per­for­mance — a glimpse of the Siddi of years past. His foot­work was crisp, rapid-fire, and au­di­ble on the table­top, and the shine of his shoes and se­quins on his pant seams and shirt brought a touch of Bob Fosse to his per­for­mance of a Soleá por

Bulería. Af­ter seven num­bers, which con­trib­uted lit­tle to the en­ergy in the the­ater, Siddi fi­nally seemed to awaken some­thing in the au­di­ence through his dis­play of sweat and pas­sion. Hav­ing all the singers and mu­si­cians sud­denly pulled in tightly around him was rem­i­nis­cent of the spac­ing at the postage-stamp-sized stage where Siddi and his com­pany first per­formed in Santa Fe. It was a re­minder that while Siddi’s time with Aspen Santa Fe Bal­let of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to widen his scope as an artist, fla­menco usu­ally lives in a crowded bar.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.