Last night my wife and I saw the Ballet Flamenco de Anadalucia at New York City Center (roughly around the corner from Carnegie Hall). A male and a female lead dancer (the female lead was Cristina Hoyos, who choreographed the whole thing), seven male backing dancers, and seven female backing dancers. They performed a three-part piece that had a little Martha Graham in it, and a little Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, but was mostly pure flamenco dancin'. The music was two guitarists, a percussionist, and three vocalist/clappers. Plus lots of clapping from the dancers, and castanets from the female dancers. I'm on a big flamenco jag lately, and this kicked much ass. (I also saw guitarist Juan Carmona at Globalfest at Joe's Pub, and he was fucking amazing, but his new album, Sinfonia Flamenca, features an orchestra behind him, and it's a little too lush for my taste, not nearly as raw and burnin' as the show. See him if he comes on tour, and find the older albums.)
The vocalists were almost totally unhinged, which was great. I like flamenco's vocals because the melodic progressions are unfamiliar; they don't follow, for example, the traditional expected rise-and-fall of the blues, which is inbred into Americans at this point. You know when a blues singer's gonna take it out, for the most part. With these flamenco guys (and girl), I couldn't predict which direction their vocal lines were gonna go, or when they were gonna get all screamy, so it was like free jazz in a way, and just as compelling as seeing a saxophonist go into the stratosphere right before your eyes at the Vision Festival or the Village Vanguard. The guitarists were fantastic, too, slapping those steel strings around in an almost Albini-like manner. If you want a CD that has nothing to do with the show I saw last night, but contains all the good qualities I'm talking about, pick up the new self-titled releas by Son de la Frontera, on World Village. Highly, highly recommended.