Flamenco Festival London: Compañía Manuel Liñán’s Nómada
Manuel Liñán is a multi award-winning and respected dancer: Nómada is his fourth offering as director and choreographer. Liñán uses simplicity as a base for his flamenco style, defiantly weaving his innovative uniqueness into it. This is what he’s known for; he avoids cliché and is himself a thrilling performer.
The music for this performance is inspiring: based around traditional flamenco guitars and singers, the music is layered with a more modern, dramatic sound. The tortured power of the male voice still exists but, in addition, we hear female spoken word. A single voice echoes over the stage, forming poetic beats for a sole female dancer to perform, arching and pausing with the familiar flamenco form. The female dancers all begin to chatter, creating a pleasing aural background to the show. So much is spoken word that points of this performance would have benefited from opera-style subtitles.
Scenes are theatrical in nature, with a clear decision that this was not going to be a straightforward dance performance. Liñán knows how to make the most of his stage: dancers are positioned with flair in front of a yellow-lit background, highlighting their sharp silhouettes. The obligatory chair dragging is present here as in most other flamenco productions, but this one has so much accompanying originality that it’s more easily forgiven.
Liñán himself is a captivating dancer, and much of the production is focused on his magnificent talent as a performer. Some numbers are solely made up of Liñán centre stage, dressed in black, making confrontational challenges to the male singers. There is a very masculine feeling to these dances.
In the final number the lights come up on a dancer in a green, layered flamenco skirt and pink floral shawl, lowered to reveal Liñán. The whole company is bursting with smiles during this final dance, delighted with the spectacle before them and the audience’s reaction. Liñán excels in roles of both costumes: the power he exudes as he spins and flicks his shawl is palpable. He looks as comfortable in skirt and shawl as he does in his tight black trousers.
Nómada was an exceptional choice to close a festival that has drawn the flamenco fans of London together. Manuel Liñán is the kind of creator who will make new fans for the genre, with his unique brand of fearless, innovative flamenco.
Flamenco Festival London was on at Sadler’s Wells until 1st March 2015, for further information visit here.
Watch an excerpt from Nómada here: