“Why you want to go see that?” asked me great aunt, stubbing out a cigarette in a ridiculously chunky crystal ashtray, “it probably just two hours of clicky-clicky.”
My great aunt, a solid Serbian seventy-eight year old, who stands five-foot-nothing in her crocodile court-shoes, has a way of dismissing things that makes most come-backs redundant. She’s never been much of a one for the whole theatre thing either, preferring the oeuvre of Schwarzenegger to Shakespeare (though if Peter Hall were to direct something that featured a lot of oiled Central-European types kicking each other in the head, I suspect she might be swayed otherwise).
The show she was so quick to write off? Paco Pena’s A Compas! To The Rhythm, which I’d been excitedly describing to her – while idly wondering if anyone had ever done a study into the health giving properties of drinking a double-whiskey a day whilst wearing a whole lot of leopard print. And, yes, it was two hours of clicky-clicky, but it was also much more than that.
This celebration of all forms of flamenco has played in London before now, and was returning for a short stint at Sadler’s Wells. The dancers – two male (one spectacularly be-mulleted) and one female – were incredible, their moves full of sensual and writhing gestures and impossibly intricate footwork. They performed in shafts and squares of light with Pena and his fellow musicians and vocalists seated on stools behind them. It was a hugely atmospheric show; I’ve never seen a Sadler’s Wells audience so lively, all whooping and stamping feet.
Oh, and the shoes. I must mention the shoes. Just as Savion Glover’s only concession to the glamour of his profession, when performing at this same venue, was a pair of cool green tap shoes, one of these chaps sported a pair of aggressively scarlet flamenco heels. Now of those, my great aunt I’m sure would approve.