SOLEDAD BARRIO AND NOCHE FLAMENCA: ANTIGONE
August 11, 2015
As it turns out, the intense and rhythmic fury conjured by flamenco dance pairs well with dramatic Greek tragedy. In the musical dance drama that is “Antigona,” a 12-member cast guides us through Sophocles’ tale of a family torn apart by power, love, and defiance. There’s something extra haunting about its unfolding in the high arched, stained glass West Park Presbyterian Church.
The evening-length “Antigona” is choreographed by Soledad Barrio and directed by Martin Santangelo - the founding duo of Noche Flamenca. In keeping with the Greek performance practice of sung poetry and live music, this work is sung, largely in Spanish (with English captions atop a screen above), with four musicians present on stage. The performers evolve through stylized acting to pure dance scenes, ever informing the current emotionally-driven moment of the play. Picture the rippling black fabric of stage-engulfing cape, two women later draped in white with numerous masks peering through, a paper mache body lying upstage sprinkled in rose petals.
Though the tragedy “Antigone” is intricate, Santangelo’s keen direction, adds some comedic interludes at the beginning, including “The Family” scene which presents each character, one-by-one, noting their part within the greater family dynamic. Marina Elana is particularly hilarious in her caricatured portrayal of Antigona’s sister Ismene, further giving us the lowdown on the drama brewing.
It’s the power struggle between brothers Eteocles (played by Ray F. Davis) and Polyneices (played by Pepito Jimenez) that begins the true action of the work. Presented via dance battle, Davis’ smooth hip hop style is met with Jimenez’s sharp flamenco. This latter style, of course, becomes a powerful through line within the choreography. Juan Ogalla, as Antigona’s love, dances with much skill and passion, most notably in “Ode to Love.”
Still, it’s the exquisite Soledad Barrio, as Antigona, who impresses with her mastery of the flamenco. Extending beyond the percussive force of her rhythmic footwork, the intensity of her performance demands attention. Even moments of stillness and grief she exudes well, striking contrast to her otherwise ferocious heel stomping and swirl of her skirt.
“Antigona,” which originally premiered in October 2014, is quite the manifestation of what the Noche Flamenca does best – creating “song, music, and dance that expresses a rigorous, spellbinding aesthetic in the form of flamenco.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson