Captivating Flamenco Mastery at Sadler’s Wells: Paco Peña Delivers an Unforgettable Dance Experience

London  – Flamenco, with its passionate rhythms and intricate footwork, is a dance form that demands both technical precision and emotional depth. Paco Peña, a maestro of flamenco guitar, brought his expertise to the forefront in a mesmerizing performance at the esteemed Saddlers Wells theatre.

From the moment the curtains rose, the stage was imbued with an aura of anticipation. The ambiance was set by the haunting melodies of Peña’s guitar, weaving through the air like a whispered secret. Each strum seemed to tell a story, evoking emotions that transcended language barriers.

Accompanying Peña were dancers who exuded grace, power, and a profound connection to the music. Their footwork was a marvel to behold, as they navigated complex rhythms with effortless precision. With every stomp and flourish, they communicated a rich tapestry of emotions, from longing to joy to heartache.

One of the most striking aspects of the performance was its authenticity. Peña and his ensemble didn’t simply perform flamenco—they lived it. Every movement, every gesture, was infused with the spirit of Andalusia, the birthplace of this captivating art form. It was as if the essence of Spain itself had been distilled into the confines of the theater.

The synergy between Peña’s guitar, the dancers, and the percussive accompaniment created a sensory feast that transported the audience to another realm. Time seemed to stand still as we were swept away by the raw energy and passion emanating from the stage.

But perhaps the most memorable moments were the quieter ones, where Peña’s guitar spoke volumes in its simplicity. In these intimate interludes, the audience was invited to glimpse the soul of flamenco—a soul that is at once ancient and eternal, yet deeply personal and profoundly human.

In the end, as the final notes faded into the ether, there was a collective sigh of satisfaction from the audience—a recognition that we had witnessed something truly special. Paco Peña’s flamenco dance show at Saddlers Wells was not merely a performance; it was an experience—a journey into the heart of a timeless art form, leaving an indelible imprint on all who were fortunate enough to bear witness.

Memorias, a film by Ben Williams featuring Paco Pena in his hometown in Córdoba, Spain, will be available on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage for free from 9 April 2024, as part of the Elixir Festival (10-20 April). Also, Solera will be at Brighton Dome on 15 & 16 November 2024.

Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company
Solera
Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 April 2024
Tickets: From £15
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com

Flamenco guitarist, composer and producer Paco Peña and his company return to Sadler’s Wells Theatre with Solera from Wednesday 17 to Saturday 20 April, following its acclaimed run in 2022.

Paco Peña, supported by his friend, theatre director, Jude Kelly CBE for the piece’s dramaturgy, explores artistic wisdom and the fearlessness of youth in search for new expression.

The solera system, from Andalucía in Southern Spain, is a process for aging wine by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. The purpose for this is the maintenance of a reliable style and quality of the beverage over time.

The word “solera” means “on the ground” in Spanish and refers to the lower level of the set of barrels used in the process; the liquid is traditionally transferred from barrel to barrel, top to bottom.

Echoing this method, Peña’s spectacle presents a history of flamenco tradition – handed down from one generation to the next whilst finding its own new means of expression.

Solera features young and mature artists – dancers, musicians and singers. 81-year-old guitar virtuoso Peña performs side by side Dani de Morón, a wonderful and innovative young exponent of the flamenco guitar, as well as with dancers Angel Muñoz, a long-time participator, Adriana Bilbao and Brazilian dancer Gabriel Matías, who specialised in flamenco in Madrid. True to the art form’s spirit of community, the dancers’ feet connect with the ground to combine with the sounds of percussion, guitar and song as the ensemble come together to present both traditional and original live music.

Paco Peña and Jude Kelly CBE started working together twenty years ago, when they created Voces y Ecos. Other projects include A Compás! and Flamenco sin Fronteras, a study of flamenco forms at the turn of the twentieth century, when Spanish performers arriving in South America discovered a folklore reminiscent of their own musical traditions. With Solera, the duo collaborates again to tell the story of love and respect of the flamenco way of life.

Paco Peña said: “The shows I present on stage always tend to follow a familiar journey: finding a meaningful idea, finding a title, in a word or two, that might contain the essence of that idea; then giving shape to it, in rehearsals with all my colleagues. And finally, with much trepidation, stepping on the stage to share it with the audience.

I have to say that in all the years I have been taking that journey I have never experienced anything like the outburst of emotion from all the artists as we came off the stage on the opening night of ‘Solera’, in 2022 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre … there was not a dry cheek among us – and that was at the interval.”
 
Listing information:

Wednesday 17 April – Saturday 20 April
Standard – No Under 5’s.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes. One interval (20 minutes)

Tickets: From £15
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com

About Paco Pena
Born in the Andalucian city of Córdoba, Paco Peña began learning guitar from his brother at the age of six and made his first professional appearance at the age of 12. In the late 1960s he left Spain for London, where his recitals of flamenco music captured the public’s imagination. Paco Peña embodies both authenticity and innovation in flamenco – as guitarist, composer, dramatist, producer and artistic mentor he has transformed perceptions of this archetypal Spanish art form.

In 1981 he founded the Centro Flamenco Paco Peña in Cordoba, later becoming artistic director of the Córdoba International Guitar Festival. Peña is the world’s first Professor of Flamenco Guitar, a role established in 1985 at Rotterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands. He was later awarded the Gold Medal in the Arts by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington – both bestowed by King Juan Carlos of Spain.

The Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company has taken flamenco into the realm of music-theatre, with regular seasons in London (Royal Festival Hall, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Barbican) and festival appearances in Edinburgh, Adelaide, Amsterdam, Athens, Israel, Istanbul, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In 2002 Paco Peña enjoyed the collaboration of renowned theatre director Jude Kelly in what proved to be the spectacular show Voces y Ecos, which took the audience on a journey through the history of flamenco and the most significant moments in its development – the show was hailed as the best flamenco show in years.

Other ambitious projects followed with Jude Kelly’s collaboration – A Compás! – aimed at transmitting vividly to audiences the compelling nature of a range of flamenco rhythms; Flamenco sin Fronteras looked at a group of flamenco forms that emerged at the turn of the 20th century when Spanish performers arrived in South America to tour their shows and discovered a rich folklore reminiscent of their own musical traditions; today, solera is the latest production by the duo and will be performed for the first time on Sadler’s Wells stage.

About Jude Kelly CBE
Jude Kelly has directed over 200 theatre and opera productions, is the recipient of two Olivier Awards, a BASCA Gold Badge Award for contribution to music, a Southbank Award for opera, an RPO award for her festival The Rest is Noise, Women’s Hour’s one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013, Red Magazine’s 2014 Creative Woman of the Year, CBIs 2016 First Woman Award for Tourism and Leisure and in 2017 the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Woman of the Year Social Purpose Award. She was also headhunted to join the bidding team for the 2012 London Olympics and create the programme for culture and ceremonies, she subsequently advised both Rio and Tokyo on their successful bids.

 

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Francesca Lombardo is a freelance journalist. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the LCC of London and her articles has been published by the Financial Times, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, The Herald, Sunday Express, Daily Express, Irish Independent, The Sunday Business Post, A Place in the Sun, Ryanair Magazine, Easyjet Magazine, CNBC magazine, Voyager magazine, Portugal Magazine, Travel Trade Gazette, House Hunter in the sun, Homes Worldwide and to Italian outlets, Repubblica, D Repubblica, L'Espresso, Il Venerdì, Vogue, Vogue Uomo, Vogue Casa, GQ, Il Sole 24 Ore, F Magazine, TU Style, La Stampa, "A", Gioia. Francesca Lombardo has trained at the business desks of the Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Daily Express. She has authored a children's book series titled Beatrice and the London Bus. website: www.francescalombardo.net

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