There’s a certain amount of poetry at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, even before a performance starts. Stars, summer night air, dappled light on the stone and greenery behind the stage. So when you add a select group of flamenco poets--singing, dancing and playing their own verses--you have it made in the evening shade.
On Friday night, “Flamenco Vivo, Rhythms of the Soul,” with artistic direction by Roberto Amaral and musical direction by guitarist Pedro Cortes Jr., was one of those consistently fine flamenco gatherings so often presented by the Fountain Theatre (co-producing at the Ford). Amaral himself was a strong presence, squeezing every bit of drama, for instance, from the solo “Embrujado” (Bewitched). With his impeccable timing and fluid, flexible attack, Amaral danced a little possession story, stalking and pounding one moment, succumbing to a convulsive twitch or feathery trembling the next. He seemed both haunted and haunting.
Another highlight was “Galeras” by La Conja, a dancer who specializes in the feeling of empowerment. When she puts her foot down, you feel her strength, and when she gathers speed, you see the force of both her yearning and dignity.
Yaelisa also had powerful moments, enhanced by her stretched pure line and orchid-like hands. In “Contrastes,” her mood was majestically dark; in “Tangos Modernos,” a swingy duet with Amaral, she radiated light, aided by the infectious rhythms of Cortes’ music.
Singers Manolo Segura and Antonio de Jerez sang throughout much of the dancing but were perhaps best enjoyed in “Martinete,” a traditional work song done to the spare rhythm of a hammer striking iron. With voices scaling cliffs of emotions, they created a mood of equal parts anguish and solidarity.
Elsewhere, the musicians--Cortes, Adam del Monte, Patric Hetzinger, Mark Krumich and Jason McGuire--were superb, although the amplification system was not.
A hint of pop star flamenco style came from Madrid dancer Fernando Villalobos. Tall, lean and pouty, he had slicked-back hair, a glittered vest with no shirt and a light touch, peculiarly ungrounded.