Espiritu Flamenco

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

20/11/2009 - 22/11/2009

Production Details


Nationally acclaimed Desde Sevilla Flamenco Dance Company returns to the Circa Two stage 20-22 November with a powerful new show Espíritu Flamenco, a passionate celebration of the human spirit using exhilarating dance, song and music.

Founding members of Desde Sevilla, guitarist Mark Edwards, dancers Jill Tanner-Lloyd and Helene Garland and percussionist Alan Burden, are joined by selected students, guitarists Richard Lucy and Torsten Hakansson and Zilzal Tribal Bellydance.

Espíritu Flamenco showcases the quintessential flamenco spirit and explores one of its most exotic influences, Middle Eastern music and dance – with cameo performances from flamenco student and bellydancer Hilary Reid, and Zilzal Tribal Bellydance.

DATES: Friday & Saturday 20-21 Nov 7.30pm, Sunday 22 Nov 4.30pm
VENUE: Circa Two, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
BOOKINGS: Circa Phone – (04) 801 7992  Online –
CONTACTS: Jill Tanner-Lloyd 027 522 7052  Helene Garland 021 366 030  

Spanish dance traditions celebrated

Review by Jennifer Shennan 24th Nov 2009

Two striking photographs on the programme covers caught the theme for this enterprising show which celebrated the Eastern roots of Flamenco dance and music. 

Kathryn Taylor in silhouette performed an opening solo with admirable clarity and beautiful arm gestures, seeming to invoke a blessing on the occasion.

In following items, dancers showed individual styles as suited their technique, physique and temperament. These contrasts were the interest and strength of the performance as lively dialogue between dancers, musicians and supporters developed.

Jill Tanner-Lloyd, the company’s director, has a confident presence and relishes the
dark, strong moods of flamenco in bulerias and tarantos. Helene Garland and Stephanie Howard are also spirited performers, showing the rhythmic intrigues of siguiriya and farruca.

Younger dancers is several alegrias were most attractive. One is a natural standout and I hope to see her performing long after her bright floral dress has worn thin.

Members of Zilzal Tribal Bellydance, led by Ziva, and with guest Hillary Reid, in ornate costume and bedecked with jewellery, performed alluring movement with grace and dignity. Rhythmic accents, though not nearly as pronounced as those of flamenco, were nonetheless revelatory of shared dance influences.

Musicians, led by guitarist Mark Edwards, were all accomplished, with percussionist Alan Burden particularly vibrant.

I maintain a city can be considered cosmopolitan only when, amongst other measures, it has Indian and Spanish dance of quality. Wellington boasts high ratings, and the Spanish Embassy has done well to support Desde Sevilla.

Both Indian and Spanish traditions sensibly introduce elements of performance repertoire into the very first class, rather than spend ten years of technical training before allowing this privilege. It’s this mix of grammar and literature that serves the performers, and their audience, so well.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment


Review by Jo Thorpe 21st Nov 2009

Flamenco is a visually appealing and highly accessible art form. Even audiences unfamiliar with its form and history can appreciate its exotic appeal and the ways it represents an image of Southern Spain in today’s global context. 

But the audience which filled Circa Two last night did not comprise the uninitiated. Rather, it drew on Wellington’s vibrant flamenco community which has been building for many years, fuelled by visiting flamenco artists such as Eva Yerbabuena, the Spanish National Ballet, Antonio Vargas and New Zealander, Francine Sweet.   A growing number of flamenco dance classes exists for all ages and Desde Sevilla has become an important exponent of flamenco as a performance art in NZ. Its mission is "to tell new stories, create new choreography and experiment with the music." Nevertheless, its experiments show a reverence for the past. 

Circa Two is an excellent choice of venue – intimate and friendly, enabling the warmth, emotion and sheer delight of Espiritu Flamenco to make its mark. Unfortunately, there is no live singing (the cante is recorded). Nor are there any male dancers. But the other elements of flamenco are there – the rippling guitars, jaleo (the spoken or shouted comments from the side to encourage other performers), percussive support with palmas (hand clapping), and much olé-ing from the enthusiastic crowd. 

Lighting designer Isaac Heron succeeds in skilfully integrating the drama of the action, and his lighting accentuates the musical and emotional image of flamenco.

The cast consists of 13 flamenco dancers (11 of whom are students from the Flamenco Dance School), three guitarists and percussionist, Alan Burden, whose mesmerising solo later in the show is alternately delicate and of great tonal variety. 

As the lights go up, out of recorded song the dance emerges. Kathryn Taylor is the quintessential, unapproachable woman – focused, charged, intent. Her bird-of-paradise fingers undulate against a black backdrop and Moorish archway illuminated from behind in red. It is a fitting opening, recalling to mind something I read about the flamenco body ‘filling a space of nostalgia and speaking to qualities ‘lost’ even as they are ‘found’. 

Mark Edwards and Torsten Hakansson beautifully convey a sense of loneliness in their guitar duo and remind me that, just as Lorca’s poems are said to "not narrate flamenco, but palpate it" ("dancers without hips / were sobbing in the mirrors"), their guitar playing seems to translate what can be felt. 

Pilar Villamor’s perfectly pitched narrations illuminate flamenco’s 200 year old roots in Andalusian and gypsy cultures and Hilary Reid’s performance of Middle Eastern Introduction illustrates flamenco’s ties to rich Arab and Indian influences. Dressed in long skirts, gold-fringed bodices and beaded headwear, three dancers from Zilzal Tribal Belly Dance also perform a modern fusion form of belly dance.

Traditionally, the siguiriya expresses the most profound emotional themes of gypsy experience – sorrow, loneliness, death. Helene Garland, supported by Louise Koze and Jill Tanner Lloyd, succeeds in hinting at the dark part of the self mirrored back at us as it finally fades and slows. 

Six dancers in red, black and white perform Alegrias (again to recorded singing) with undulating arms, slow hip movements, a flick of ruffled skirts, and the power of fast unison foot stamping which builds to a loud climax. And Tanner-Lloyd and Garland seem to goad each other on in their Solea por Buleria, with rapid building displays of footwork coming to a sudden dramatic stop.

Flamenco is traditionally a soloist’s art, allowing us to see how dance transforms the dancer – or not, as the case may be – and for me, it is the solos in Espiritu Flamenco which have the most impact. Promising student dancer, Stephanie Howard, impresses in the Farruca, a dramatic piece reminiscent of the bullfight and traditionally danced by men. Dressed in matador pants, white blouse with flounced foreams and black and white scarf, Howard dances with a contained intensity and focused precision.

But my personal highlight is Jill Tanner Lloyd’s solo Taranto. Tanner Lloyd is a dancer of emotional depth and strong presence. Dressed in black, red and purple, she conveys a sense of tragedy and sorrow, looking above and beyond the audience to something else. She impresses with her attentiveness to line, sensitivity to melody, rhythmic acumen and range of motion, and seems to come closest to the expressing the essence of flamenco. Her final exit is dramatic: back to the audience, one arm raised in a kind of victory.

The pulsating, mesmeric rhythms of the Fiesta Finale bring the entire cast back on stage in a whirl of energy and colour, and remind us that through dancing, one can glimpse an essential humanity, a material presence. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council