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DANCE REVIEW

Luna's Graceful Flamenco Lacks a Vital Spark

June 03, 1996|VICTORIA LOOSELEAF

Carla Luna, an ivory-skinned firebrand who is not afraid to let her frizzed gray hair fly about, may be petite, but her imposing flamenco style was too big for the tiny "More Than Music Room" of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.

Concluding the center's "Works in Progress" series, Luna and her troupe of four women joined forces with composer-guitarist Guillermo Rios, flutist Chus Alonso, percussionist Al Velasquez Jr. and singer Charo Monge. Despite Luna's hip-swiveling and sure-footed spins, the brief evening never quite caught fire.

Aside from the room's poor sight lines, the technically proficient but hyper-amped musicians occasionally drowned out Luna's intricate footwork.

Alternately resembling a porcelain doll and a fiery seductress, this dancer-choreographer was sorely in need of testosterone--a male dancing partner--instead of a quartet of sloppy-heeled ladies who flailed about in several numbers.

What is flamenco without passion? Where is duende--that mysterious spirit--when you need it? Luna's first solo, "Cancion de Primavera,' found her weaving magical webs with graceful hands but was lacking in drama. She hit her stride in the Rios-composed "Tarantos," with Alonso blowing a hot flute. Slinking around Rios, Luna moved in for the kill with a series of haughty dips and splendid turns.

Not as splendid was the ensemble's finale, "Flamenco Variations," in which Luna's troupe nearly buried her in an invasion of polka dots and puffed sleeves. The sold-out house loved it, though, and one lucky audience member even won a caftan.

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