Whether displaying off or baring their souls, flamenco dancers are usually soloists. Confining eight of them inside a border — an space outlined with tape on the ground — has the flavour of a social experiment. How will they share the stage?
This is the self-esteem of “Fronteras,” or “Borders,” which Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana debuted on the Joyce Theater on Tuesday. You don’t must learn this system observe to grasp that the choreographers, the visitor artists José Maldonado and Karen Lugo, are towards the imposition of boundaries, social and creative, and wish to transcend them. But the bounds they’ve imposed on themselves and their fellow forged members are fruitful. This is an uncommonly deft balancing of the person and the group in flamenco, and strong leisure in addition.
In some methods, “Fronteras” is a customary flamenco present, with customary strengths, particularly an unique rating by José Luis de la Paz, who performs reside together with his fellow guitarist Calvin Hazen and the superb singers Francisco Orozco and El Trini de la Isla. But the premise — no dancer ever leaves the stage — forces attention-grabbing selections. For a temporary second, the dancers cut up into opposing gangs, however quickly the present settles into the traditional type of a collection of solos or specialty turns.
Or nearly standard. Each dancer has an figuring out prop from the trunk of conventional flamenco objects (a fan, a fringed scarf, a cane) and a totally different flamenco type or tune type (jota, granaína) by which to precise his or her character. Maldonado has a scarf that he pulls between his tooth and thighs in an appealingly comical-sexy method. Lugo wields a long-tailed bata de cola skirt with punk power, tossing her physique round as a lot as she does the costume.
But inside this standard setup are some uncommon options. One is that Maldonado’s and Lugo’s turns come within the center. They aren’t the celebrities. There aren’t any stars, or weak hyperlinks, both. The eight dancers are remarkably equal, every holding consideration in a distinctive manner. No one burns a gap within the present. No one lets it sag.
The continuity additionally stems from the self-esteem. During every solo, the opposite dancers, caught onstage, periodically echo or prolong the motions of the soloist in intelligent and ingenious group choreography. Often, they do it with a comedian spirit — mocking Emilio Ochando and his castanets earlier than he wows us with footwork and turns as quick as his fingers, or making cartoon noises when the trendy Adrian Dominguez drops his hat.
The comedy, whereas not snort out loud, retains the tone mild and unpretentious, although Maldonado and Lugo achieve making severe factors, too. After the solos, the dancers begin mixing, your-chocolate-with-my-peanut-butter type, ingeniously combining hat and tambourine, scarf and cane. As they swap objects, Ochando finally ends up carrying Lugo’s skirt, crossing borders of gender.
This mingling and buying and selling works so properly that it’s baffling when the manufacturing swerves into a glow-in-the-dark part by which the dancers organize their objects into a smiley face. It looks like an excerpt from a totally different present, possibly a preview of the Momix spectacle coming to the Joyce subsequent month.
But then, satisfyingly if predictably, the performers lay down their props and pull up the tape, ending with a dance social gathering, everybody taking turns, supporting and celebrating everybody else. This is how most flamenco exhibits finish. “Fronteras” freshens the which means.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana
Through Sunday on the Joyce Theater; joyce.org.