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

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

Posted on : 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

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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.