[Flash Dance Review] A House is not a Home

The House
Flamenco Sin Fronteras
1 December 2019
Drama Centre Black Box
29 November–1 December 2019
Part of Singapore Flamenco Festival 2019

On the surface, adapting Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba as a flamenco dance theatre piece may seem like a natural choice given that it is a famous Spanish play. But it dawned on me that it is quite difficult to do so.

Unlike classical ballet adaptations, or the Greek myths that companies like Ballet Nacional de España chooses, the play does not have a big sweep of action. It is really text heavy; not the most conducive element for dance.

But the pent-up frustration of the daughters in the Alba household offers an intensity and struggle that flamenco feeds on very well.

Of most interest to me is the intentional breaking of lines by the dancers to reveal the personality of the characters. I admire the attempt to go beyond stock characterisations that is present in most dance theatre.

Mamiko Nekane’s (Bernarda Alba) bending forward is not only an indication of age, but there is an ageing but powerful panther-like quality as she prowls about her household.

It is difficult to maintain one’s characterisation while doing flamenco because of the complex rhythms, and the need to signal to the musicians every time there is a change in the phase of the dance.

But on the occasions when it comes together, and the footwork and musical notes punches the air together, the soniquete is delicious.

 

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