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Hispanic Arts Scotland

October 2009

Leonor Leal and Company

19/10/2009

The Scotsman

Dance review: Leonor Leal and Company

Published Date: 19 October 2009

By JAN FAIRLEY

LEANOR LEAL AND COMPANY

QUEENS HALL, EDINBURGH

* * * *

FLAMENCO is thriving in 21st century Spain, with cutting-edge shows leading the country's cultural life, many led by female dancer-choreographers. So it was a treat that Hispanic Arts Scotland invited Leonor Leal's up-and-coming company from Jerez, where the annual flamenco festival is the crucible of creativity.

For Leoleolé, the opening martinete-toná of singer Mercedes Jiménez established flamenco's bittersweet fusion of confessional intimacy with fiery statement. Joined by second singer Jesús Corbacho and guitarist Tino van der Sman, dancer Antonio Molina set the pace with a dynamic seguiriya, capturing the audience with his energetic zapateo foot work.

After a jazzy guajira from Sman Leal offered the first of three solo dances, starting with a tangos, which combined elegant arm work with the timbres of her pattering feet. Leal's award-wining farrucca was exciting: her interpretation of this one-time male dance powerfully adapted by women in recent times, was enhanced by her signature short, dark hair, while flowing trousers allowed intensity of movement unfettered by frills.

With an engaging milonga from singer Corbacho, the show exuded youthful vitality and the final spontaneous encore brought the audience to their feet.

 

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Leonor Leal Flamenco Dance Company, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

18/10/2009

The Herald Scotland

Dance Review: Leonor Leal Flamenco Dance Company, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Published on 18 Oct 2009

By ROB ADAMS

Leonor Leal Flamenco Dance Company, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

* * * * *

The notion that a flamenco troupe should be able to fill each other’s roles – thus rendering them all musicians – gained some currency at the end of this, Leonor Leal’s first-ever appearance in the UK.

Her brilliant guitarist, Tino van der Sman, laid down his instrument and performed a few humorously skilful moves, while singer Jesus Corbacho first played guitar and then did some very able steps of his own.

Whether Leal and her partner in dance, Antonio Molina, play any instruments or sing doesn’t matter. They make music with their feet, to the degree that the sound of their beyond-intricate, precise-foot percussion integrating with Corbacho and Mercedes Jimenez’s voices and handclaps and Van der Sman’s profound, sonorous expression would make a gripping radio broadcast.

There’s more to Leal’s innovative flamenco than sound, of course. With her short, severely gelled black hair and her apparently elastic reflexes, Leal is an electric visual presence, her hands performing flickering roller motions and her body speaking more eloquently than mere words as she variously scrapes, glides and drums her way across the stage. In duets with the dashing Molina, the pair mirror each other’s movements with the same breathtaking exactness that Molina brings to his own pieces, with his extravagantly gifted tapping and in one case, very fetching red shoes.

The sightlines weren’t ideal for appreciating these shoes’ every move and there was much seat swapping in the interval, but even missing out on some early detail there was the raw-nerve-end quality of Jimenez and Corbacho’s singing to compensate in this triumphant display of Andalusian art.

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