Smile Politely

Flamenco Fire of José Porcel and his Compañia Flamenca

José Porcel and his Compañia Flamenca are bringing a buoyant interpretation of traditional flamenco dance to Foellinger Great Hall. Through a combination of solo and ensemble dances, and traditional guitar music and singing, Porcel seeks to introduce American audiences to the color and energy of this Andalusian folk art.

Now on his third tour of the US, Porcel’s troupe emphasizes the energy, grace, and lightning-fast footwork of traditional flamenco forms, combined with showman-like spectacle. Steeped in the dance from a young age, his approach to choreography and staging infuses the solo folk art with energetic ensemble dances and a more upbeat approach to flamenco’s cultural themes.

Traditional flamenco is a lot like the blues. Originating in the Romany culture of southern Spain, it is an art form that is as concerned with point of view as it is with a curated set of technical markers and skills. Like the blues, flamenco must be felt as much as performed, and the feelings expressed are those of a people systematically disenfranchised within their own country.

This emphasis on powerful heartbreak and complex emotion is less evident in Porcel’s work. Though the dancers are often serious, the overall tone includes a lot more levity than the above description implies, as can be seen in this performance highlight from his 2008 tour:

Color, movement, and technical achievement are all highpoints of this dance company, and theater-goers looking for a vivid entry point into the world of flamenco will find themselves in for an exciting treat.

José Porcel and the Compañia Flamenca will perform for one night only, October 7 at 7:30 pm at the Krannert Center. Tickets are $34 general admission, $27 for senior citizens, $15 for non-U-of-I students, and $10 for U of I students and youth (high school and younger). Flex pricing is available.

All photos courtesy of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. 

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