DanceReviewSouth East

Jose Agudo Silk Road – Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich

Choreographer: Jose Agudo
Guest Choreography: Rafael Amargo & Nahid Siddiqui
Score: Bernard Schimpeisberger and Giuliano Moderaelli
Reviewer: Glen Pearce

Those expecting a Spanish senorita resplendent with a fan and a pair of castanets will leave Jose Agudo’s flamenco inspired Silk Road somewhat disappointed.

For Andalusian-born Agudo, Flamenco is clearly a passion but here he uses it as a starting point to explore the cultural links along one of the world’s ancient trading routes.

It’s a route that allowed a fusion of cultures to combine and develop over the centuries and Agudo also fuses styles and pace to show the influences on both the countries the route passes through but also on the dance itself.

Across two solo pieces, and a third duet, this hour-long journey sees the passionate Flamenco merge with the more spiritual influences from Asia to create a modern, contemporary reflection on life and death.

Agudo’s grounding in Flamenco is evident throughout, the crisp heal snaps of the first piece a duel with the live percussion and Flamenco guitar.It’s not so much duelling banjos, but dancer and musicians entwined in a battle of ever increasing rhythm and challenge.

The second piece, a Kathak solo, is perhaps the weakest segment of the evening. While showcasing the links between the two dance forms, and again delivered with clear attack by Agudo, it fails to provide enough dramatic contrast to the first solo to fully engage.

Post interval, and joined by Mavin Khoo in a duet entitled Full Circle, the mood picks up with a tender and engaging duet that takes us from the ancient to a more contemporary mood. It is also the most poignant section with life and death battling it out against the fierce rhythmic score.

With a strong sense of the spiritual and ritual, Agudo has created a work that requires his audience to work with him to uncover the nuances in the narrative, the moments when those nuances connect bring the piece alive but there are other moments where the mind wanders, despite the unquestionable skill of the performers.

Much of the atmosphere is created by Bernard Schimpeisberger and Giuliano Moderaelli’s score, performed live by the pair onstage. The score becomes a character in its own right, at times sparring with the dancers, other times supporting and nurturing character development. As the lights fade and the acoustic guitar is replaced by the echoing chords of the electric guitar then there’s a feeling this journey along the Silk Road hasn’t just been a geographical transportation but also one through time.

Reviewed on 28 April 2017 | Image: Bee Roy

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