Farruquito may be only 22, but he is heir to an old family tradition. His grandfather was the famous dancer El Farruco, the paterfamilias of a Gypsy clan that included many noted flamenco singers and dancers. In Alma Vieja (Ancient Soul), Farruquito hymns the memory of his grandfather, who died in 1997, in a series of set pieces that opens and closes with songs by Manuel Molina. Like some Gypsy Gandalf, grizzle-haired Molina lifts his face and spreads his arms to invoke the memory of El Farruco, his voice as dry and cracked as used sandpaper.
she hitches up her skirts and lasciviously rolls her ample hips, like your favourite auntie having a good time at a party.
The company of seven dancers and seven musicians are from the same extended family, and their rapport on stage is as obvious as their physical resemblance. The male dancers all have shaggy manes of hair that they toss and flick, outdoing the women. In the Soleá in Three Decades, three men of different ages, including a barely adolescent youngster, compete with each other in drum-roll displays of footwork that repeatedly build into pounding crescendos. The Bulerías “of the fat woman” is danced by Pilar Montoya, a galleon of a woman who stamps and sails about imperiously, fingers fluttering like flags. Later she hitches up her skirts and lasciviously rolls her ample hips, like your favourite auntie having a good time at a party.
Montoya excepted, this is largely a showcase for the men, who impart a distinctive strut and swagger to the piece. Each is a commanding performer who knows how to play the audience, Farruquito in particular excelling at rapid-fire footwork. But the overall pacing and drama would benefit from a stronger female presence.
Nevertheless, the individual numbers are compelling. Dance and music alike repeatedly build and release the tension between stillness and speed, between rhythm and flow, between individual flair and disciplined technique. At its best, Alma Viejo does more than simply bring flamenco to London: it transports you to another country.