February 2006

Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company
February 3, 2006Massey HallToronto
Flamenco: A Way of Life
by Amanda Martinez
One could feel the anticipation in the air as the five musicians walked on stage led by Paco Peña. As the pulse of the cajon (percussion box) and guitars began, the cry of the flamenco singer spoke for the hearts of the sold out audience who were mesmerized by Peña and his team of dancers and musicians.

Flamenco exists in three forms — cante (the song), baile (the dance) and guitarra (guitar)… A Compass, Peña’s latest show, captivates our souls and reminds us of how these 3 forms inspire one another. Apart from the astonishing technical work of Peña, the musicians, and the dancers, there was also an element of raw spontaneity and playfulness that engaged the audience, making us feel that we too were part of the inspiration on Friday evening.

After beginning the show with the full company, the lights were dimmed and we were transported to an intimate tavern in Spain, listening to the master and his solo guitar. One can see why he was bestowed with the honour of Oficial de la Cruz de la Orden del Merito Civil by King Juan Carlos of Spain and why he was named by Guitar Magazine as flamenco guitarist of the year for 5 consecutive years.

Peña says that one tends to think of flamenco solely as a music of fire and temperament without being aware that it is more than that. “It is a complete way of life, and is the expression of a deep feeling which has to do with happiness, love, sadness, death, hardship and the struggle for life.” All of these emotions came through his performance and those of the company including guitarists Paco Arriaga and Rafael Montilla, the next generation of Flamenco guitarists with whom he shared the stage.

Thunderous applause could be heard when dancers Angel Muñoz and Ramon Martinez had the spotlight, each dazzling us with their contrasting styles. Martinez overflowed with an almost comedic possessed spirit and Muñoz demonstrated his unstoppable more traditional pirouette work.

Paco Peña is a virtuoso guitarist and a master showman. Peña says that he plays to move his audience. Moved we were. The enraptured crowd showed how moved we were by a standing ovation.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Amanda Martinez
• • • • • •
The Live Music Report
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Amanda Martinez is a singer and actress, she is the host and producer of Café Latino, heard on JAZZFM91 (Saturdays 4–6 p.m. on 91.1 FM)

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