Johanne McInnes is a musical artist whom loves Flamenco with a passion so I jumped at the chance to gather her perspective on La Otra Orilla ~ Moi et les autres on March 30th at the Spatz Theater.
Here is her contribution, thanks Johanne!
Center stage, a guitar appears to hang in the air. Shadows and silhouettes shift in the dark background but the guitar maintains its illuminated center of attention. Caroline Plante takes her place as player of this instrument and begins strumming the first layer of sound which will be part of a three-four section mixed with a looping effects Pedal.
A mysterious mixture of 21st century sounds intertwines with a rich historical Spanish flavour and we are drowned in the next hour and a half in this hypnotic collage of music in a non-traditional flamenco style.
Myriam Allards’ red stillettoes appear under the metallic backdrop. She performs behind and in front of the back drop to create an unusual rapport with the audience.
In the absence of traditional Flamenco Dress, her leggings accentuate the details of the dance moves, performed with flair and precision to live guitar, drum kit,
and Square Drum Box mixed with pre-recorded sound effects.
As the program puts it; “ ….its traditional codes updated and stripped of its traditional figures and costumes, here flamenco vibrates with sincerity and depth, with the intensity of the dancer’s presence and the powerful emotions it evokes.”
The intensity of the performance kept the audience mesmerized for more than an hour without any intermission. Arabic Singer Hedi Graja added a multi-cultural feel to the show with his powerful voice, inviting us to appreciate a mixture of traditions and causing us to reflect on our current political context of welcoming refugees. Through song, Hedi, was able to glue together a fusion of artistic elements throughout the evening.
At one point guitarist Plante remained focussed on playing her flamenco music even while being pushed on a rolling chair across the stage. It was as if she was telling us, stay focussed, enjoy your carpe diem, even when the world moves and shakes around you. This moment was powerful as we watched her whizzing about, yet staying totally focussed on her mission.
The method of dancers appearing both behind and in front of the metallic screen was effective. At one point a poem was read by Hedi three times in a row, each time going faster and faster, while the dancer ran on stage to the pulse of the three different tempos. It reminded me of the intensity of life In the 21st century with it’s repetition and increasingly fast pace.
I had just experienced a more traditional Flamenco dance show at the Sea Horse in January, with the dancer wearing the traditional props. This was a very different effect; the dancer of La Otra Orilla, wearing red tights with a short dress. This allowed a greater understanding of the precise dance rhythms of her legs and feet. The red and black shoes provided great visuals during the whole performance as sometimes we could see just her feet dancing behind the metallic background, which, swaying back-and-forth, created a surreal effect, as if we were in a dream like state, augmenting the effect of the dance shadows on another corrugated metal backdrop.
This is an evening I’ll remember; a vivid snapshot of life by four talented artists, condensed into a memorable evening performance.