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March 5, 2019

Reviewed March 4, 2019

NAC Southam Hall, Ottawa    

Image result for farruquito images      

Whenever I watch flamenco, I’m instantly transported back to the little mesóns behind La Plaza Mayor in Madrid, where I hung out in my early twenties when I lived in Spain under Franco rule. There, after landing accidentally on the north shores of Spain after the freighter I’d hitched a ride on re-routed mid-Atlantic, I found accommodation with a group of Spanish students and discovered the culture of Spain: its food, its language, its music and its dance. I fell in love forever.

There’s really nothing like it. And it is unique and priceless that Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya (otherwise known as Farruquito) still brings the true passion (and tragedy) of the “flamenco puro” to the stage.

The blood of the pure Gypsy flamenco tradition flows through Montoya’s veins, passed down through the generations from his grandfather, El Farruco, the untrained but naturally talented Gypsy dancer whose own story is one of passion, tragedy, adventure and success. And through the blood of his father, flamenco singer Juan Fernández Flores, and his mother, dancer Rosario Montoya Manzano.

Along with his three brothers, Farruquito was immersed in the world of flamenco and performance from infancy, becoming a professional artist at the age of 11. Now 36, Farruquito travels the world, sharing the purest form of flamenco, while collaborating with contemporary film directors, conductors and artists.

He performed in Ottawa for the first time on Monday. The 90-minute show is long enough to immerse the audience in the passionate world of flamenco. Accompanied by his 11 dancers and musicians, Farruquito is an overwhelming presence. He is rhythm personified. His majestic and magnetic style carries all the essence and grace of Gypsy flamenco, and he demands full attention from the audience. Bewitching and restless, the show is replete with the solemnity and pride of the Gypsy family, as well as the celebratory passion, beauty, energy and life that is flamenco.

I have to mention guitarist Yerai Cortés, who performed a brief captivating solo towards the end of the show, as well as accomplished flautist Juan Fernández Gálvez, and the persistent and resilient cantaor Ezequiel Montoya Jimenez, and cantaoras Mari Vizarraga and Maria Mezcle.

Bailaora Gema Moneo wooed the audience with her solo and her duet with Farruquito. She wore a white figure-hugging flamenco dress, complete with a full ruffled train, which she flipped and lifted and curled around her, revealing her blood red shoes and highlighting her restive rhythm and mesmerizing movement.

Each of these performers – talented in their own right — is an integral and intricate thread in the colourful cloak of Farruquito’s flamenco performance.

From → Folk, Spectacle

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