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Dance Review

In Flamenco Show, Del Monte Accents Solos Over Ensembles

May 29, 2000|LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES DANCE CRITIC

In her recent flamenco experiments on local stages, Laila del Monte developed creative strategies for performing with tap dancers, kathak dancers, jazz dancers and even non-dancers. But given the opportunity to interact with two fellow flamenco artists at the L.A. Theatre Center on Friday, she unaccountably ventured only perfunctory exchanges with them and chose to emphasize solo expression instead.

A pity, since the potential loomed large in the opening "Casi me Amabas" ensemble for exploring eloquent movement design with the commanding Ricardo Chavez and communication-through-steps with the authoritative Cecilia Romero.

However, Del Monte's "Dulce Despertar" solo crowned the evening with joyous physical freedom, artful shifts in focus (childlike to womanly, playful to contemplative) and high technical sheen. In his own solo (Farruca), the tall, lean Chavez used his long arms and large hands to help dramatize changes of stance and pressure without ever compromising his powerful rhythmic drive. In contrast, Romero's solo (Solea) gloried in its varied emotional coloration and sheer intricacy--a blaze of curling wrists, complex heel work and elaborate traveling steps.

This Fountain Theatre production also boasted excellence from its musicians: singer Jesus Montoya, Romanian pan flutist Damian Draghici, cellist Giovanna Moraga, plus guitarists Jose Tanaka and Adam del Monte. Piercing amplification robbed some of their efforts of a sense of atmosphere (with the aggressively in-your-face flute sonics especially unfortunate), but Del Monte's superb "Sombra del Paraiso" solo conquered even the microphones with its ghostly melodic fragments materializing out of dense, dazzling filigree.

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