Flamenco Beliefs is a powerful and richly symbolic new production which showcases previously unexplored parallels between flamenco and religion (Christianity, Islam and Buddhism). The show provides a fascinating exploration into the particular pertinence of these subjects in Spain, highlighting their primary theme of tradition.
Through the tradition of dress, songs and dance, the performance presents us with contrasting moments of privacy and of community. The solitary moments, with the presence of just one solo performer, offer a quiet intensity, with the stage clouded in darkness – bringing time and space for intimate reflection. This draws attention to the personal, private side of religion. However, for thee moments to then be contrasted with the joyous and the dynamic, the light and infectiously fun communal scenes makes for a dynamic production. This constant interchanging between the internal and the external, the reserved and the flamboyant – all emphasise the contrasts but also these similarities between flamenco and religion. They also convey that, when facing restraint, the openness of flamenco can help us set free.
Flamenco Beliefs draws a lot of attention to the theme of audience – this is seen as the performers watch each other, functioning as both dancers and spectators. This is of equal importance in religious practices: the congregation observe their preacher while also acting as members of the community who contribute to the preacher’s ‘performance’. In this way, lines between audience and performer are frequently blurred – adding a greater air of mystery and intensity to the show.
Another parallel explored in Flamenco Beliefs is that of ritual: like religions following traditional and set practices, flamenco has its own ceremonial-like routines – both of which have been preserved and respected for centuries. The rituals in this production are presented in the forms of both song and dance, and often the overlapping of voices or movements come to create a hypnotic and almost trance-like ambiance.
Flamenco Beliefs is totally unique in its investigation of the resemblances between flamenco and religion, and presents a beautiful and near haunting onstage atmosphere in its authentic homage to these two pivotal aspects of culture in Andalucía.