After producing a sell-out show every year since 2009 Alba Flamenca returns to the Fringe once more, bringing a taste of authentic flamenco music and dance to the Scottish capital.
The night I was there, a somewhat shaky start added a bit of tension to the beginning, it soon flowed away as the dancing began in earnest. If you don’t know a lot about flamenco this production is a great place to start. The company provides little tasters of a broad range of styles from the Cuban influenced guajiras, to bulerias and tango, explaining what each piece is before they start, giving a little information on the style’s origins and defining features. The talent of the group is unquestionable; classically trained guitarist Andrew Robinson flies around the fretboard with precision, skill and great artistry and is accompanied beautifully by two vocalists who adopt a husky vocal style of harmonies.
All members of the group contribute to the rhythm section, each clapping an individual, incredibly complex rhythm; but of course it is the dancers who provide the main percussion beats. The choreography is technically very demanding and performed brilliantly, every step ringing crystal clear through the room – even when the dancers’ feet are moving at a rate seemingly impossible for a human being.
One major problem, however, is that unless you manage to get a seat in the first two rows you will experience a very restricted view of this technical brilliance. Once the dancing began some of us in the audience had to stand or crane our necks for a lot of the show. Such a shame as the performance, when I could see it, was great. Another little irritation was the performers whispering to each other through the whole show. It gave the impression that there was some inside joke that the audience wasn’t allowed in on.
This is a strong show. For those who know little about flamenco it provides a great introduction, and for those who are more familiar with it an opportunity to enjoy an accomplished performance. Just make sure you get there early to get a good seat or be prepared to do a lot of moving around and standing up.