With two different weekend programs titled "Sangre Nueva," the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood showcased the flourishing local flamenco community in a new way: by focusing on new blood, the emerging dancers most often seen in club shows.
By enlisting fine singers and musicians--Charo Monge and guitarist Paco Arroyo on both programs, supplemented by Carmela Pastora, Ana Quintero, Jose Tanaka and Dan Zeff, plus percussionists Makoto Saito and Miguel de Sousa--"Sangre Nueva" reminded those emerging artists and their audiences of the unique mix of brilliant technique, overwhelming emotion and a luminous individuality that can make flamenco so devastating.
Many of the dancers emphasized specific skills in their solos: Ana Quintero's flamboyant manipulation of an enormous crimson fan, for instance, or Assieh La Mora's remarkable ability to make a fringed black shawl swirl around her with the intensity of whispered secrets. Juanita Quintero and Cristina Villalobos each used castanets with flair, and both Vera Flores Celaya and Sarah Bashir specialized in heel work--the former steadily ratcheting, the latter sharply rhythmic.
Flamenco emotion came in numerous forms: hearty and quasi-maternal (Maruja Belmonte); simultaneously sensuous and forceful (Ahmae); focused inward on some remembered pain (Elena Maria); volatile and suffused with mystery (Debora Turriciano).
Of the men, the brooding Ricardo Chavez and the aristocratic Alonzo Serrano proved equally generous when it came to intricate heel work, bold gestural effects and glowering passion.
Obviously, choosing favorites among the 15 soloists--not to mention the ensemble dancers ("Los Fiesteros") periodically stamping and clapping alongside them--is a highly personal matter. But dancers who can haunt the memory ought to be celebrated, and "Sangre Nueva" boasted several: La Mora and at least three others.
Wearing a black gown studded with enormous red roses, Arleen Hurtado poured on the heat in "Tomame en Cuento," her arms slicing the air, her heel work thunderous. Less fierce, but also distinguished by powerful use of the arms, La Karina stalked the stage in a black dress with purple underskirt in "A Mi Aire": weighty, womanly and impressively theatrical.
However, the big discovery may have been Marcellina de Luna, emerging from darkness in a pewter-colored gown with net sleeves for "Mas Alla del Pasado," in which refined technique, deep emotion and, particularly, ravishing body-sculpture heralded an artist ready for the ascent to stardom.
Ill-matched but individually promising, Isavel de Cordoba and Paty Lopez appeared in a feisty confrontational duet on Program 2.
Besides the dancers themselves, the choreographers for "Sangre Nueva" included Roberto Amaral, Yolanda Arroyo, Laila del Monte and Lorenzo Montoya. "Los Fiesteros" incorporated, at various times, Corina del Sol, Emilio, Isabel Flores, Polo, Carola Marquez, Linda Vallejo and the featured artists.