Sara Baras; artistic director, choreographer, and lead dancer for the Voces, Suite Flamenca at the Kennedy Center on Monday evening, gave a debut performance that was heralded with a standing ovation. Flamenco was joined with theater and words, both recorded and sung live, to place various arts and make them intricately tied together. Keko Baldomero, composed music with instruments including guitar, saxophone, drums and tambourine that communicated mood through changes in rhythm and tempo which either paralleled or juxtaposed the dancer's movements at all times. Sometimes Baras would tap in the exact same measure as the guitar beats, which was astounding to perceive. At other times, the dance was meant to compete against the musical rhythms whereby dancer and instrument vied against each other.
The scenes began with a lone dancer in black shirt and pants with a white jacket, and as she crossed the stage pictures behind her of men and women, larger than life, in postures enjoying the world of flamenco, lit up as she passed. The imagery conveyed a connection with the past and respect for those who both have been and are creators and actors within the world of flamenco.
Taranta, danced by Baras, was guided by the words of Antonio Gades:
I think that man, that human beings have to have the dignity to take full advantage of themselves. This is not the profession to make you rich, or to make you better looking or for you to be praised in, it is a profession in which you represent a culture and you represent a very fine work, and whether it's art or not you'll see later...and why people dance is being forgotten; people used to dance through a state of emotion; because they were sad, because they were happy, because they wanted to fight. For that they danced.
Personal perspectives were heralded throughout the event and the past was brought into the future as Enrique's Morente's words reflected during Farruca:
I don't think that art should have restrictions; art must have freedom, everything is possible and what matters is the result...flamenco at the same time that it's becoming more and more universal is also becoming bigger and bigger. We mustn't be pessimistic, we must be optimistic and encourage the younger generation...I much prefer being free than being tightly squeezed into a square shaped peg that says nothing and passes nothing on to others.
After the ovation there came a personal note from Ms. Baras that she has won a gold medal for her flamenco work, from the King of Spain and she has it on her heart. The evening ended with baile de mantón, by the corps performers lead by Baras in a long bright green layered fringe dress.
By Sarah Bahl