Few companies capture flamenco's essence better than Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía. A blending of Gypsy, Arab, Jewish, and Spanish musical and dance traditions, the art form evolved in Andalusia more than 200 years ago and still flourishes there. When the 17-member troupe performs at the Cutler Majestic Theatre March 1-3, on its first visit to Boston, it will present the US premiere of the full-evening work, Metáfora, directed by the acclaimed dancer and choreographer Rubén Olmo.
"It's a tribute to flamenco's full spectrum," Olmo says on the phone from Spain. "We take it from its origins to its most contemporary manifestations." Having studied and collaborated with some of flamenco's greatest dancers and choreographers, he draws from a variety of styles, giving audiences the chance to appreciate flamenco's complexity and variety.
"What people often don't understand," he explains, "is how much technique and preparation is required to perform flamenco well. Most of them have begun dancing as little children. The tendency is to think the performers simply improvise. They do improvise, but if they are to give an emotionally satisfying performance, they must know all the rhythms, and make sure their movements complement the music. Even though it is a dance of the people, born in the streets, it requires as much technique as classical dance."
Divided in two parts, Metáfora opens with some of the earliest folkloric styles from the 18th century. In this rich, joyous section, the women wear brilliant flower-patterned shawls and beautiful long-skirted dresses called bata de cola. Dressed in sleek silver suits, the men, chests held high, stamp out rapid rhythms with their feet. In the second half, these exceptional dancers show how flamenco has incorporated movements and ideas from contemporary dance and ballet without ever losing its essence. As sumptuously dressed as in the opening, they move more freely, giving the dances great dramatic sweep. The title of the work comes from Olmo's belief in dance as a metaphor for life.
Olmo chose the celebrated dancer Pastora Galván as guest artist. "She knows all styles, from classic and baroque to the vanguard," he says. Galván will perform the joyful alegrías, one the most complicated flamenco forms — with numerous sections and changes in tempo, mode, and phrase structure — and the fast-paced bulería. "For me dancing flamenco is the best way to communicate," she says. "My favorite moments in life are when I'm on stage."
BALLET FLAMENCO DE ANDALUCÍA :: Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St, Boston :: March 1 @ 7:30 pm; March 2 @ 8 pm; March 3 @ 3 pm :: $40-$65 :: 617.876.4275 or worldmusic.org