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DANCE REVIEW

Flamenco to quicken the pulse

Inspired by riveting strains, Oscar Nieto delivers an emotional ode to the art.

June 03, 2003|Jennifer Fisher | Special to The Times

For those who miss the spirit of improvisation in flamenco in this very choreographed era, and for those who like to feel their heart pounding without having danger close by, the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood had Oscar Nieto, a flamenco Fred Astaire, exchanging energies with guitarist Antonio Triana and singer Antonio de Jerez on Sunday night.

In a comfortably casual but bracing edition of the "Forever Flamenco!" series featuring concise solos, Nieto showed how to play the contrasts of flamenco like a violin careening from sweetness to sorrow. He was soft, then commanding, full of ferocity, then grace. And he took his time, interacting with the musicians as if their notes didn't just fall around him but inspired him.

Among the other dancers, Vanessa Acosta had an engaging, smoothly molded style, full of sparks and drama, while Abigail Caro seemed more studied, arranging her limbs to look pretty.

Sachihiro Kagawa, who moved to Southern California from Japan a year ago, had the lightness and swiftness of a hummingbird in two solos. Slimmer than slim, he didn't have a forceful attack or Nieto's depth and ease, but his bright eyes and dynamic control made him appealing.

With each dancer, it was hard to tell if the movement alone could have whipped up as much excitement or if flamenco is simply forever exquisite when the masterful De Jerez is singing.

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