Review: Cadiz @ Birmingham Royal Ballet School Elmhurst

As a reviewer I’m lucky enough to be asked to see a wide range of theatre, and occasionally I see something so unexpected, so original, just so plain brilliant it justifies my search for something new.

Cádiz, specially commissioned for the first production of touring festival Flamenco Edition was all three with knobs on.

The show’s producer Anna Garcia spoke to the audience before the show explaining how this newly choreographed work told the story of the ancient city of Cadiz on the Costa da Luz in Southern Spain.

Performed in the beautifully raked auditorium of Birmingham Royal Ballet School’s theatre this work turned out to be as high octane as theatre gets. Fittingly on a sweltering summer night the company would recognise as truly Spanish we were treated to a dance drama in the Andalusian tradition of flamenco, but not the mantilla-clad cliché of Costas postcards. This was the art of the contemporary culture of southern Spain, powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, and funny.

I know it began with captivity, and ended with liberation, but in between I gave up worrying what the work was about, recognising only a great celebration of Spanish culture from the domination of the moors to the present day.

One virtuoso guitarist Jesus Nunez provided the music while two percussionists Israel Mera and Anabel Moreno clapped and stamped out the exciting beats of this vibrant celebration of a rich culture while the astonishing David Vazquez sang its strange melodies. The call of the muezzin was there along with the vibrant energy of modern Spain.

But it was the tiny choreographer and flamenco dancer Jesus Fernandez who stole the show, stamping and flashing through the endless variations that revealed this powerful step-dance as a vehicle capable of expressing deep human emotion.

This was only the second performance of Cadiz but it’s a perfect festival piece which deserves a wider audience and a long performance life. A wonderful night, full of passion and poetry. Sheer delight.

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