Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Company at The Lodge at Santa Fe’s Cabaret Theater, June 23, 2009

by Janet Eigner

Artistic Director/Choreographer/Dancer: Juan Sidi // Guest Dancer, Carola Zertuche //

Company Dancers: Kerensa DeMars, Stephanie Narvaez, Keyana DeAguero, Cynthia Sanchez, Katherine Taylor // Musical Director and Guitarist: Chuscales // Composer, Vocals and Percussionist: Yiyi // Guitarist, Ricardo Anglada // Vocals: Vicente Griego //

Skip the firecrackers this year…pale substitutes for Juan Siddi’s celebration– bold and explosive flamenco footwork, clacking castanets, flying foot-long fringe, each dance flaming up to its clear beginning and brought-up sudden, to its quick, high-arm-slashing conclusion.

The cast of seven dancers bend and rock their spines and limbs, flick up the long shawl fringes, deliver syncopated rhythms, simultaneous diagonal moves in “Angel de la Guarda.” Surprising synchrony: Zertuche pulls her ruffled train back just the moment Siddi toes her hem, a sly plan to look as though he had kicked the flounce away.

Just fitting on the small cabaret stage, the five woman “Pasion Flamenco” ensemble rock their sleek-side-bending bodies, clad in shazam! print dresses that frame their well-matched forms, their slim, youthful, forceful and sinuous skill. They conjure a sky-full of eyeball-popping, vibrating planets.

The musicians begin their steady, slow beat with a call: Yiyi’s husky voice, his cajon, rain chimes and conga drum, cantaor Griego’s deep, loud wails, the soulful strumming guitaristas and later, Chuscales’ solo, sketching graceful, interior and Andalucian.

In the night-sky-dark lighting, faces and shapes slip in, shaded blue or gold, just enough to see, as though lit by campfire.  The duet, “Encuentro,”slows and builds to simmering passion between Zertuche and Siddi whose subtle moves update the dance form– more intimate gestures–his large hand on her shoulder, their bodies spooned: he unwraps the shawl from around her waist, she flicks it like a lariat to rope a stallion.

After all the approach and retreat, the writhing hands, the climactic, drumming feet, a quiet meeting: they grasp the silk that collapses like a limp umbrella, release it in a heap, exit to separate sides for a swift, crushing retreat. Zertuche, after Chuscales mellow solo, delivers her own fireworks with her frock’s descending ruffles flowing to an extra long train, the “bata ‘d cola,” keeps her head lowered and leans sharply back, angles into her smokey mood.

Flamenco’s roots in East India and Siddi’s Katak training blend in “Nataraj,” a slow, sensual wave of arms unfolding, with the Siddi as Siva, Lord of the Dance at the head of the ensemble’s line, initiating creation as indeed Siddi does.  Siddi’s erect, noble posture and foot power launch him like a Vespa, setting up a vibration with his heels that looks like levitation across the floor.

His final triple turns launch a spotlit spray, his corona of sweat. He’s a human sparkler.

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