Blanca y Negra

Crooked Spire Coffee House, Midland

reviewed by Helga Sand

Fascinating flamenco finesse informed every moment of a traditional Farruca at the Crooked Spire Coffee House. It was an ideal curtainraiser for Nicole Levy and Karen Henderson to demonstrate their skill and style in this most attractive of flamenco dances. Impeccable footwork was a particularly pleasing feature.

There was a most attractively styled Solea por Bulerias and a no-less meaningful account of a Siguiriyas, each given a contemporary take on the traditional versions. In both instances, style, technique and a fine sense of line and rhythm gave point and meaning to these flamenco staples. Castanet playing was of fine standard. A concluding Alegrias, with a beautifully gowned Henderson and Levy striking in a Spanish trouser suit, did wonders in this most approachable of flamenco dance styles. Their performance would surely have charmed even the grumpiest of audience members.

Laurels aplenty to guitarist Kieran Ray who excelled on flamenco guitar. His playing, radiating authenticity and buttressed by an impeccable technique provided ideal accompaniments for the dancers. For much of the evening, mystifyingly, he was at times barely visible, a dim figure in the gloom, the very antithesis of his radiant playing. This aside, Sarah Levitt’s lighting design was everything one could have hoped for.

It is only very infrequently indeed that the violin is heard in a flamenco context so Stuart Robertson’s strongly emphatic playing was of particular interest – and Genevieve Wilkins and Jackson Vickery were both faultless on cajon.

Adding to the visual dimension of the production was the use of drawings of bullfighting and flamenco dancers, images of which were projected onto the rear of the stage. The originals, on sale, were displayed on the walls of the cafe area.

Having worked for decades as a reviewer in Perth, I can say that, compared to some of the hideously uncomfortable seating provided for audiences in too many local venues, the seats in the Crooked Spire theatre border on the heavenly.

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