Dance Review: Flamenco Dance — Unapologetically Sexy

By Jessica Lockhart

Flamenco is big, bold, and fully human as it (often) traces the tensions of courtship, indulging in the sensual and the aggressive.

Flamingo Festival 2024: Alfonso Losa at the Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre on March 9.

Flamenco artists Alfonso Losa and Paula Comitre performing together. Courtesy of the Flamenco Festival

A dark empty stage with a very short microphone stand positioned unusually low down on the floor. A man enters slowly. He languidly raises his arms to a traditional flamenco braceo pose. Next we become aware of the quiet sound of his fingers snapping in rhythm. After that, he slowly turns, letting his foot scrape against the floor — until, suddenly, he stomps his foot when he takes a dramatic lunge. He builds speed and intensity as his body and feet move with incredible precision. The only sounds are from his feet and fingers creating a frenzy of percussion until he stops with arms raised over head and stares intently into the unknown. Someone from the audience shouts “ole” and the rest break into applause. This is the first 5 minutes of Espacio Creativo (Creative Space), a new show featuring Spanish dancer Alfonso Losa.

Welcome to the world of flamenco dance, a treat for your senses and your emotions. Your ears and eyes are instantly ‘woke’ in the most wonderful of ways. Ears are serenaded by the complex rhythms generated by stomping feet, clapping hands, as well as on-stage singers and guitarist. Eyes respond to flamenco’s unique set of gestures and postures, transmitted by flashing legs and feet that move intricately to the rhythms flamenco is known for. This is a dance form whose dramatic journey bearhugs the passions, from love and envy to playfulness, anger, rejoicing, and regret. Flamenco is big, bold, and fully human as it (often) traces the tensions of courtship, indulging in the sensual and the aggressive.

Alfonso Losa is a master dancer from the Madrid school of flamenco, which is admired for its severity and elegance. In this performance he and his team sought to expand the parameters of classical flamenco, incorporating elements of contemporary dance. Could the dancers maintain the traditional arm work (braceo), hand and finger (florea), and footwork (zapateado) and embrace modernity at the same time? Is a successful hybrid possible?

Alfonso Losa performing with singer Sandra Carrasco. Photo: Beatrix Molnar

After Losa’s dramatic opening appearance, he was joined onstage by singer Sandra Carrasco and Francisco Vinuessa, a flamenco guitarist. Carrasco supplied powerfully mournful vocals and Vinuessa’s guitar both enhanced and challenged Losa’s rhythmic movements. The juxtaposition between the languid movement of Losa’s torso and the dexterity and speed of his feet was fascinating. His dark hair was worn in a ponytail; he wore sleek pants, a shirt contoured to his torso, and shoes with prominent heels. It was a striking image, redolent of strength and grace. Another singer, Antonio Campos, joined the performers onstage. The singers moved about the stage imploring Losa, with their words, for some sort of improvisational direction. He responded, sometimes with frenzied movements and sometimes with motions that seemed to slyly imply — ‘Well how about this?’ Their seesawing call and response grew increasingly intense. It wasn’t imperative to understand the Spanish words that were sung; it was clear that the performers were imploring each other to listen, to understand, to acknowledge.

Another dancer, Paula Comitre joined the ensemble. In a long white dress whose layers of skirts trailed behind her, skimming along on the floor, the performer moved with elegance and precision. She turned and rotated with such speed while kicking and swooshing that giant pieces of skirt skipped upwards, making beautiful patterns. As she danced, Losa sat with the singers and musicians on stage, joining in the clapping and stomping. They were fierce cheerleaders for Comitre, adding layers of excitement.

Comitre and Losa later danced a very intimate duet that was exquisitely steamy, a theatrical romance that oozed overtones of cat-and-mouse seduction — lyrical foreplay. Flamenco dance is unapologetically sexy.

Global Arts Live has been bringing flamenco dance to Boston since 1994. Let’s give them our own “ole” for so loyally reminding us of this dance form’s indispensable celebration of love and beauty.

Jessica Lockhart is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Dance Criticism and has a BA in Communication from the University of Southern Maine. Lockhart is a Maine Association of Broadcasters award-winning independent journalist. Currently, she also works as program director at WMPG Community radio.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts