Sueños is essentially a series of traditional flamenco numbers, adapted for the stage by Sara Baras. A consummate and professional dancer, Baras has also been a poster girl and a catwalk model – and it shows. Instead of gaudy souvenir-doll frills, her costumes are classy enough for cocktails. And she knows exactly how best to present her company, using simple but dramatic lighting, clear compositions and a varied programme of dance and music.
A phalanx of women stalk the stage, as dark and glossy as ravens, unfurling their shawls like ominous black wings
The opening martinete sees the company of nine dancers beating out a stark rhythmic tattoo with their canes. The following soleá glistens with funereal beauty. A phalanx of women stalk the stage, as dark and glossy as ravens, unfurling their shawls like ominous black wings. Baras and José Serrano dance the jaleo: a slow, courtly circling that gives way to strident clapping and a rattlingly brilliant finale. The farruca, traditionally a male preserve, makes a powerful centrepiece. In trousers and a bolero jacket, Baras commands the stage in a tense solo of inexorable builds and sudden freezes. It is not simply her prodigious technical skill that make this a star turn, she also has tremendous presence, holding a pose for an age without it becoming lifeless, imbuing a simple lift of an arm with drama.
Nothing else matches the farruca for intensity, and it casts a long shadow over the second half until, towards the end, Baras – a phoenix in red and gold – snakes and stamps in controlled outbursts, then grows playful with the musicians and the audience, both teasing her public and warming to them.
The ensemble dancers are impressive – technically disciplined and physically eloquent. The music, incorporating elements of jazz and folk, is perfectly orchestrated to the theatrical spectacle and canny in its use of simplicity and silence. Sueños is that rare treat, a well-paced show with spirit and class. For once, those party-piece encores are thoroughly deserved.