1. Recital Flamenco, Choreographer: Manuel Liñán.
Photo Credit: Ming Ng
Hong Kong audiences, especially flamenco lovers, were lucky to have Manuel Liñán, one of Spain’s hottest contemporary flamenco choreographers and dancers, perform his work on 5 June 2016 at Sheung Wan Civic Centre Theatre in Hong Kong. The evening, presented by Jazz Dance Group and Academic Theatre Association of Hong Kong, with Liñán accompanied by guitarist Franciso Vinuesa and singer David Carpio, was a spectacular and unforgettable experience for audiences.
Since the early 2000s, Liñán has won numerous choreography and dance awards for flamenco. Most recently, at the Festival de Jerez 2016, Liñán’s production of Reversible received the Critics' Choice Award. It is without a doubt that audiences have very high expectations from this ‘King of Flamenco Dance’ – as he is known in the local flamenco community. Liñán didn’t disappoint, the show that went on for nearly 90 minutes and that included Instrumental Guitarra and Instrumental Voz for guitar music and voice respectively, featured Liñán’s solo dancing in all of the remaining five palos.
The stage setting was simple: two antiqued wooden chairs placed center in front of the cyclorama with a large rose projected in white on the stage floor at center stage. A voiceover - a woman recounting a story in Spanish - serves as background for the audience’s first glimpse of Liñán. Dressed in black with an aloof expression, he performs the first dance, Play Back Romance, with masculine and quick movement as well as strong and clear footwork.
2. Recital Flamenco, Choreographer: Manuel Liñán.
Photo Credit: Ming Ng
Following the cool and muted atmosphere of the opening, the second palo is Solea. The word solea originates from the Spanish soledad meaning solitude or loneliness. Solea is often regarded as the mother of all flamenco musical forms. The first part is slow and gloomy but the second part becomes delightful and hopeful. However, Liñán’s version is not a desolate one. Instead, his version is rather calm and introspective in the opening and turns relaxing and confident at the end. It seems that Liñán uses his own unique style of body language to convey a positive message: “Be a wise man, let sadness go!”
The third piece is Martinete performed by Liñán and Carpio without other accompaniment; it is the only duet on the program. The piece is challenging because both singer and dancer have to be very attentive to, and synchronous with, each other’s percussive rhythms. Carpio, in particular, has to interact and respond to Liñán’s sometimes unexpected but natural, somehow humorous, flow of movement.
The fourth dance is Tientos y Tangos. No longer a man totally in black, Liñán has changed into a red-patterned shirt, a shiny tight belt, and red shoes. Although Tientos is also a slow palo expressing loss, despair, and longing for freedom, Liñán brings in contrasts by means of fast turns, intensive footwork, and sharp postural gestures. When Liñán has taken the audience to the boiling point, he whips off this belt and flips out his shirttails to perform Tangos joyfully and sensationally as the work’s finale. The house was totally inflamed by his passionate and aggressive performance.
The final dance is Caracoles. Wearing a singlet with a very large and heavy fancy mantón draped over his shoulders, he appears on stage - a man in bata de cola (skirt with a long tail) - as a king. Liñán utilizes the full stage to fly the mantón’s tail and to wave its wings. His artistic sense and charisma make for an explosive and powerful climax. The audience’s reaction to his performance was overwhelming - wild applause and shouting.
Despite anxious moments caused by two false fire alarms during the performance, the whole evening was a stunning and gorgeous offering to Hong Kong audiences. The sound system and lighting effects were clear and precise. Liñán, Vinuesa, and Carpio successfully presented an exquisite world-class masterpiece.
Angela Lee is currently studying for her doctorate in Applied Language Sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She started learning flamenco dance in Hong Kong in 2009 and was a participant of Dance Enhance: Dance Appreciation & Criticism Writing Project 2015.
Date: 5 June 2016 Time: 8pm Venue: Theatre, Sheung Wan Civic Centre