Wednesday 10 July 2013

Los Vivancos

Coliseum, London


Los Vivancos

The global accolades that fanfare Flamenco troupe Los Vivancos, suggest that these talented Spaniards are a lot more than just another act flown in from the Majorcan hotel circuit. Seven brothers, all fit as the proverbial fiddle and musically talented have evolved a 90 minute show that in a series of short sassy routines push the boundaries of this cultural icon of their national heritage.

And boy can these boys dance - ensemble numbers, almost perfectly co- ordinated were a joy, and an early costume suggestion of a deceptively ruffled outfit, cleverly combining a hint of bolero with the classic traje de flamenca was sheer stylish class. The choreography bore wit and flair with a castanets number in darkness being lit solely by dancers' hand held lights, flashing when their castanets sounded, giving a chic and clever suggestion of the chirruping of evening cicadas.

The traditional Iberian themes of romance, passion and honour were oft evoked, though some moments failed to meet expectations. A blindfolded routine wowed, with the potential for further thrills ramped up, as each blindfolded brothers collected a stave. If Flamenco is traditional Spanish, then Morris Dancing defines England. Portly men, skipping and banging sticks at each other has been part of the traditional English sunny Sunday for years so these fit muscular dancers, literally dancing in the dark, needed to get mediaeval on one another with their staves. The potential for some ingeniously staged staved Flamenco conflict tantalised, but it was not to be.

Music comes mainly from a backing track with occasional support from an onstage band of brassy Latinas. Clearly inspired more by rock festivals than dance extravaganza, the act’s sound was far too loud and often distorted, suggesting a sound designer that had given scant, if any, attention to the demanding acoustics of the cavernous Coliseum. Part of the magic of Flamenco is the syncopated and coordinated sound of toe and heel hitting the stage precisely. The dance should have a raw and typically natural, almost brutal, phonic life of its own that complements the music, a fusion of Riverdance with the Costa del Sol. In this performance however, the noise of the routines was all too often shamefully smothered by this pre-recorded cacophony which, when accompanied by the harsh floodlighting of the audience to signal each routine's end, was just a bit too much for the senses at times.

As the heavily camp finale played out, the thought occurred: all that was missing was some fireworks and.....cue the cascading pyro!  The encore was a treat as braced to the steel framework of their very simple set, the brothers incredibly performed their final routine upside down, albeit inadvertently destroying their inverted stage in the process.

Whilst these dancers' talent is unquestionable, the show lacks polish. Not bowled over on the night, this reviewer was arguably in the minority as (predominantly) women of all ages leapt to their feet for three rousing ovations. Los Vivancos is a camp, damp giggle based around some spectacular dancers and their admittedly stunning pecs. If that last sentence appeals, you will not be disappointed.

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