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Flashiness Trips Up Flamenco

August 20, 1994|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BREA — With her fierce intensity and seamlessly expressive technique, La Tania evokes the power and mystique missing from so many programs in this era of debased flamenco stage shows.

In a Soleares on Thursday at the Curtis Theatre, La Tania made every movement an expression of anguish and individuality, evoking unspoken narratives of inner and outer states. Dancing as a guest, she dominated a program by Juan Talavera's flamenco troupe, which otherwise emphasized genial and extroverted theatrical values, with dollops of show-biz pizazz and easy-sell hip-swinging. Adios , pena Andaluz.

Pacing, even in the Canto Jondo selections, tended to be fast. The male and female corps were locked in symmetrical patterns. The whole was over-choreographed. In their "Viva Cadiz!" duet, for instance, the gaunt, intense Talavera and the willowy Gabriela Garza were shadowed and framed by four extraneous male dancers.

In other departures from elusive flamenco puro standards, Antonia Lopez used a black sombrero to cover extravagant rolling hip-moves in "Tanguillos de Cadiz." Angelina Valenzuela discarded the appealing vulnerability in an early Alegrias for audience-courting in the Fiesta por Tangos.

With her hollow-toned, pulsing vocalism, guest Pepa Sevilla remained an expressive singer, although her explosive stage persona and dancing pushed the boundaries of modesty. Guest Lourdes Rodriguez, however, danced a sturdy, stylish Alegrias.

In addition to Sevilla, the capable singers were Charo Monge and Antonio de Jerez. The underutilized musicians included guitarists Benito Placios, Antonio Triana II, Rafael Aragon and El Coro Rociero de la Pena Andaluza ensemble.

Talavera is hoping to establish a beachhead for flamenco in Orange County. The Thursday program (repeated tonight) follows a series at the Curtis in May. Another set is promised in December, although no dates have been announced. But there are problems.

Although a comfortable facility, providing intimacy with its 199-seat capacity, the pressed-board stage muffles heel and foot stamping and considerably narrows the dancer's range of tonal effects.

* "Flamenco Talavera" will be repeated tonight at the Curtis Theatre, 1 Civic Center Drive, Brea. 8:30 p.m. $29.75. (714) 990-7722.

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