Flamenco is Music, Sex and History all rolled into one. The fiercest expression of the human spirit ever devised. The Flamenco Express policy is simply to obtain the best flamenco performers available, give them total artistic freedom, and present them to international audiences. The result is an amazing diversity of artistic voices all committed to delivering their own view of the world, in their own unique way, according to how they feel at the time. Which means that every show over the past 14 years has been different and special.
A Wider Audience for Flamenco
Flamenco is both popular music and that rarest of creatures, popular theatre dance which works in both large and small venues.
Promotion and Publicity
We have an extensive mailing list and promote all performances and events via email, web marketing and social networks.
Outreach – Flamenco Dance Workshops
‘This feisty flamenco company deliver the finest in flamenco, plus sizzling soloist La Joaquina’
‘..utterly riveting variations of firecracker beats…tumultuous fervour ..indelible gracefulness.’
‘An unforgettable evening.’
‘This is a fiery ensemble production where every spark of personality is kept alight and creative diversity is given the space to breathe but remain faithful to flamenco’s roots.’
‘…What was surprising, however, was the sheer power and energy displayed by the dancers during this vibrant celebration of Spanish culture. Forget the sterile, regimented flamenco so often served up to tourists: this was the real thing, and to say that it packed a punch is an understatement.’
‘Flamenco Express transported the audience to an imaginary Spanish haven during a musical journey laced with passion, grace and immense artistry. The cold, grey and windy weather outside seemed a million miles away.’
‘A small company of three dancers and four musicians filled the stage as if they were performing at a much bigger location yet kept intact the intimacy of the venue.
With a programme of traditional flamenco performed with unconventional interpretations, they managed to transport the audience not to the tacky Spanish holiday resorts of the 1970s but to the darker heart of the Iberian gipsy soul. The dances were packed full of energy (exhausting the audience as much as the performers) and displayed impeccable precision and timing. Mention must be given to guitarist Jesus Alvarez whose dexterity and musicianship were stunning.’
‘Flamenco refreshes the parts than other dances cannot reach…or so it seems from the response of the audience who witnessed Flamenco Express perform in Staffordshire.
Post-performance people watching bore witness. Fingers drummed tables, hands tapped out rhythmical patterns on the bar, two couples, infused by the flamenco spirit, practised paso doble variations and a number of middle-aged ladies could not resist giving their ‘stamp’ of approval as they left the auditorium. It touches a primal instinct in us all – the rythym of life, with its complex contra beats – an electrical fusion of sound, movement and speed. Flamenco Express put in the plug and switched us on.
Three female dancers in simple attire, two guitarists and two singers recreated the intimate surroundings of the Tablao, a club-like setting within the round of the theatre. This proved an intimate experience, observing the performers from an outer globe – 360 degrees of firecracker footwork and dispossessed arms and hands – as if generated by a force separate to the movement of willowy bodies.
We sat transfixed from the opening martinete, with its deliberate footwork and posturing conjuring up the forge environs which fired its origins, to the high-spirited buleria por fiesta learning towards improvisation from each of its dancers.
In between, we witnessed a solo alegria, from Gemma de la Cruz and two entrancing solos – each indelibly marked with the personalities of performers La Joaquina and Rosa de las Heras.
The layers of Flamenco – dance, song and guitar – were each given their moment in the spotlight. Two amazing guitar solos from Chris Mullet and Jesus Alvarez made string instruments sing with impossible precision. While Ana de los Reyes and Mateo Solea provided a vocal tapestry rich in its scale and dexterity. Flamenco Express has been touring since 1996 and performed more than 250 shows in between educational workshops, classes and specialist choreography for organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Italia Conte School. But each of its performances is different, as they explained. “Flamenco is about telling a story, a conversation on stage, but each is infused with the personality of the performer. As guest performers and members of the company change, they bring with them something new and unique. No performance is ever the same.”
And with this, I have to agree. We witnessed stories unfold and took away a little of the spirit which brought them to life.
Picasso, a great proponent of Flamenco, particularly through his later work in ceramics, would have appreciated the symmetry – returning a little of life’s energy to a theatre on the edge of the Potteries.”
‘The first time I saw a Flamenco dance troop was in 1995 in a small crowded bar in Barcelona. There were only four in the company; a singer, a guitarist and male and female dancers. They sang, played and danced for an hour and a half without a break. The atmosphere in the confines of the bar was hot, steamy and intimate. The performance was done with vigour, artistry and passion, faces contorted with expression, communicating all the anguish, pain, joy and other emotions of the story. Performers and audience alike with beads of sweat dripping from the forehead, down the sides of the face and off the ends of noses and chins. Indeed, the singer was almost crying. It was electric.
Upon reflection I concluded that Flamenco is far more than just a dance. It is a way of life.
My second outing was some years later in the sterile atmosphere of a large concert hall in Munich. The performance inevitably succumbed to the atmosphere of the hall. Technically superb, but sterile.
Flamenco Express laid out their credentials immediately with the opening number which involved the entire company. They trooped onto the floor and commenced without introduction. The powerful voice of Ana de los Reyes boomed out across the rows of an expectant Bedford audience. The flowing skirts of the dancers, the staccato strumming of the guitar, the rhythmical clapping and the sharp, high speed tap, tap tapping of the feet brought it all flooding back.
With eyes closed the performance evoked all the memories and emotion of that bar in Barcelona. The performers doing well to counter the somewhat flat atmosphere of the Corn Exchange. Even without the heat, the intimacy and the sweat, Flamenco Express were never-the-less, as far as I was concerned, the real deal. Highly recommended.’
‘Bedford Art-icle’ © Manoj Gupta 2007
By Doña Esperanza Bravo Caballo
‘For one night only in March the Hackney Empire was host to Flamenco Express and came alive to a very Spanish Experience. Flamenco Express tour Britain and Europe to perform an art form that is an essential and all-consuming part of their lives.
The force that drives them is known as ‘duende’ – the inner spirit released in performers’ emotional involvement with their art. Real flamenco is a direct result of the gypsy Diaspora. It is a call for optimism and for an appreciation of the sensual pleasures of life, while at the same time recognising the sad struggle that brought them in the end to the Andalucia, home at one time to a flourishing polyglot civilization. Flamenco combined their own roots in India with Spanish and Arabic influences and it survived many forms of repression to become an ultimate expression of freedom. Unlike the sterile tableaux that are presented to gullible tourists, authentic flamenco never fails to inspire an educated audience.
Although a diverse group, their biographies indicate they have all studied and performed with some great names in Spain. The end product is as good as any you will see here.
Flamenco is a fusion of elements and styles. Foreign audiences tend to think of it as a dance form only, but in Spain the music and the singing, sometimes without music, are just as if not more important. This group excelled in all three. The singer Mateo Solea who made his debut at the age of 14 was particularly good. The program had a balance of the happier expressions of flamenco known as ‘alegrias’ and the ‘soleares’, one of the oldest forms of flamenco especially in the singing, expressing deep sadness and loneliness. The finale of Fiesta por Buleria by the entire company was spontaneous, but its outward liveliness still maintained the deep inner core touching on sadness which is essential to good flamenco.’
‘Powerful Grace and Dynamic Rhythm’ by Megan Millar-McKeever
‘Passion, drama, and hot summer nights. These are the things that come to mind when one thinks of flamenco dancing. What Flamenco Express added to this list of attributes was grace, strength and humour. If you have never been exposed to flamenco dancing before seeing this company perform is a great place to start, and if you are a connoisseur then you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable evening.
This small company, comprised of four dancers and four musicians, created a dynamic performance last Thursday night at the LABAN Theatre. The female dancers began the evening with a vibrant group piece, followed by a series of solo performances. Their steps provided a rhythm for the music created by the sweet sounds of the acoustic guitarists and the rough vocals of the singers. Through the performance the music built in speed and intensity seducing the listener while the dancers captivated with their powerful grace.
The impression the performers left on the audience was apparent as members of the audience rose to their feet applauding and children tapped away in the isles in an attempt to mimic what they had just seen. If you love dance, Spain or listening to a wicked acoustic guitar this show is a definite must see. I had a fantastic time and would recommend it to anyone.’