Anjel Rojas and Carlos Rodgriguez, August 2, 2018. .
(photo credit: JOSE LUIS TABUEÑAS)
Flamenco creation Azul Vida by Anjel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez was chosen to open Suzanne Dellal’s “Danza Espana” festivities showcasing a dozen Spanish dance companies .
Rojas and Rodriguez, who now mark 22 years of working together, are a part of a generation that maintains the essence of traditional Flamenco, while trying to explore the perimeters of that discipline in various ways. Rojas and Rodriguez follow the New Flamenco trend and try to infuse unconventional materials by adopting elements from other dance forms that may range from ballet to hip hop. Few artists could offer a coherent, well-rounded alternative, but Rojas and Rodriguez’s Azul Vida didn’t fulfill expectations, despite their effort.
It took this performance, namely the choreography and its presentation, a rather long time to convey a more basic fresh approach. It was almost half way through before both dancers and Ana Agraz, a lady dancer that joined them, loosened their strict, mostly frontal compositions, which overused unison formations.
All three had an opportunity to dive into long solos and fully convey their artistic statements.
Strangely enough, we didn’t see real duets or trios in the full sense.
It was as if those dancers are basically detached islands sharing a space.
Both Rojas and Rodriguez are quite good dancers, yet they didn’t come across as glowing or particularly charismatic, while flamenco is an art form that entwines moods, emotions and pain that feeds on passion, to breed its dramatic core.
Yet, not for lack of trying, their inner passions didn’t come across.
Each one developed some traits of his own; while Rodriguez added some balletic touch to his arms and incorporated a variety of pirouettes – not part of traditional Flamenco vocabulary – Rojas, though heavier, took pride in his technique of nimble quicksilver footwork, part of Flamenco bravura.
Graceful Ana Agraz had basically a contained and rather conventional role, next to the meatier part of the two men.
At the same time, most components which served as supporting agents were clever and special.
Such was the sophisticated lighting design, the original and inspiring musical direction and composition, including the score for piano and the percussion composition toward the ending, which brought much-needed fresh spirit that spiced up Azul Vida
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