This month, dance lovers in London were given the rare treat of a visit from flamenco queen Sara Baras for this year’s Flamenco Festival in Sadler’s Wells. Accompanied by a tremendous force of a corps de ballet and musicians on guitars and percussion that drive you giddy with the passionate rhythms, Baras’ latest production ‘La Pepa’ is a tribute to the Spanish Constitution of Cadiz in 1812 and a celebration of her beloved country.
On this flamenco interpretation of a historical journey, the entire spectrum of emotions from sorrow to passion to sheer joy make their mark through the smallest and largest of gestures, from an elaborate turn of a hand to full body turns at high speed with skirts circling furiously around like Catherine wheels. Every part of the body is strong, controlled yet yields itself to immense sensitivity.
Baras dances like a supernatural being - steps move effortlessly from a subtle rousing build up to a fast and furious staccato that looks impossible for a mortal. Gliding from one end of the stage to the other, Baras appears to be taking off like a helicopter as her heels tap away so quickly you can only see a wild flurry of movement.
Joining the strong and sensual femininity of Baras was husband Jose Serrano’s equally deep-felt performance, particularly his powerful solo with a cape in a scene depicting the premiere of Spanish parliament.
La Pepa is an intoxicating show for both performers and audiences. Taking their bows, dancers and musicians cried and embraced with relief, exhaustion but also sheer joy in an open way so rarely seen on the London stage. Whether you’re familiar with flamenco or not (and no, shows in southern Spain’s Tivoli World don’t count!), everybody has to see Sara Baras at least once in their lifetime - extraordinary doesn’t even cover it.