Sara Baras returns to flamenco’s roots

Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras in Voces, Suite Flamenca at Sadler’s Wells, London
February 16, 2016
Charlotte Kasner

Voces, Suite Flamenca is a more traditional offering than we are used to from Sara Baras, although far from diminished for that. Baras uses the work to return to flamenco roots and play tribute to the flamenco greats with large chunks of spoken word; something of a disadvantage to non-Spanish speakers.

As ever, the cante is top notch and the appreciation of the musicians only lessened by the over-amplified sound which distorts the upper ranges. This makes it all sound as if recorded as it appears to blast out from one side of the auditorium, driving all possibility of duende out.

There are a couple of ensemble pieces but the centre of attention is Sara Baras. Her zapateado is utterly mesmerising. It raps out at a seemingly impossible rate then slows and quietens like a flooding tap subsiding to a drip. It is always at the service of the baille, not least soleas.

Baras also has notable braceo, strong and fluid. The value of stillness and moments of silence are used to great effect although on a couple of occasions, broken by haleos from the less sensitive members of the audience.

The tientos also stood out with the guitarists stretching the form to its limit and then pulling it back into the familiar. Guest Jose Serrano would stand out in many productions; a subtle rather then flashy dancer, although here he is rather upstaged by Baras, an altogether more powerful presence.

Baras as ever plays with gender, donning a bolero at one point and allowing her men to wield shawls – to great effect it must be said.

The lighting is a little gloomy, especially as most costumes are dark. One exception is the trio of dancers in red who perform a potted, rather jazzy Carmen, the Antonio Gades tribute one assumes. There is also an excessive use of smoke.

At ninety minutes, Voces, Suite Flamenca is just about the right length and would be a great introduction to anyone new to the form.

Voces, Suite Flamenca is part of the Flamenco Festival London, which runs to February 28. Visit for details.