The successful edition of the Flamenco Festival London 2023
The eighteenth edition of Flamenco Festival London has proved to be a memorable event in the already demanding cultural agenda of the British capital. The temple of European performing arts, the legendary Sadler’s Wells Theatre, has been once again the epicentre of the festival. There have also been performances at prestigious venues such as Kings Place and Rich Mix London, as well as programme extensions at the Instituto Cervantes centers in Manchester and Leeds.
The outcome of Flamenco Festival London 2023 makes us feel very proud of the event. The festival concludes having welcomed more than 17,000 spectators to its performances, with a very high average occupancy rate. Of the 22 performances of the 17 participating companies, almost half of them were sold out. The shows by Rafael Riqueni, Julio Ruiz, Niño Josele, Gallardo y Cortés, Mercedes de Córdoba, Florencia Oz and the first performance by Sara Baras at Sadler’s Wells were sold out.
MOMENTS FULL OF EMOTIONS
During the celebration of the festival there have been unique moments, such as the prize giving of the ‘Olivier Award 2020‘ to Sara Baras after her first performance of ‘Alma‘, or the diploma as a nominee for these same awards to Manuel Liñán after the premiere of the show of his In-Progress project ‘Amor Amado Amen‘.
In addition, the connection between the audience and the artists, and the amount of applause and ovations received during and at the end of the performances, have also been very impressive. 122 artists have participated in this year’s edition, staging the constant progress and evolution of flamenco, an art capable of transcending heritage and tradition, finding ways for the avant-garde, innovation, transgression and reflection through the eyes of different generations of artists.
THE FEELING OF THE SPANISH GUITAR
In its 18th edition, Flamenco Festival London has performed the most important tribute to the Spanish guitar ever on an international stage. In doing so, we have commemorated the 400th anniversary of the death of the musician, poet and writer Vicente Espinel, one of the fathers of the Spanish guitar.
We experienced an unforgettable ‘Big Flamenco Guitar Night‘ at Kings Place with performances by Mercedes Luján, Raúl Cantizano and José del Tomate. A contrast of guitarists who understand the emotion of the instrument in different ways, and who were accompanied by the extraordinary dancer Sara Jiménez. In addition, the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells hosted some of today’s most legendary guitarists, each of them presenting their own show, such as Rafael Riqueni, Niño Josele, José María Gallardo and Miguel Ángel Cortes.
THE ‘GALA FLAMENCA’
The power of dance and song unleashed in the ‘Gala Flamenca’ returned to the tables of Sadler’s Wells. Directed by the choreographer and bailaor Manuel Liñán, the event, co-produced with La Bienal de Arte Flamenco de Málaga, has become a benchmark for Flamenco Festival London.
A Gala in homage to the figure of Carrete de Málaga, who at 82 years of age participated in the show, proving his unwavering love for this art form. He was accompanied by Manuel Liñán himself, moving the ‘traje de cola’ and the ‘mantilla’ with a unique mastery, breaking down flamenco walls once again. As well as two outstanding dancers of the current scene: the elegance and technical control of Alfonso Losa, and the powerful interpretation of El Yiyo, an exponent of the most racial flamenco. An exceptional cast accompanied by the cantaora Sandra Carrasco, the bearer of one of the most special voices of the ‘new flamenco’.
The Gala Flamenca turned out to be one of the most applauded shows of Flamenco Festival London 2023 in the three performances it held on 14 and 15 July.
FLAMENCO DANCE LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE
In addition to La Gala Flamenca, the London audience was able to enjoy three colossal dancers of very different registers. Sara Baras, who was reunited with London audiences after the success of ‘Sombras‘ during the 2019 edition of Flamenco Festival in London. ‘Alma‘, the new show she has presented, opened the festival and had a wonderful reception among the audience of a packed Sadler’s Wells, which continued during the five consecutive days she performed there.
Also at Sadler’s Wells, Mercedes de Córdoba, accompanied by five musicians and four magnificent dancers, demonstrated her natural talent and artistic technique in her work ‘Sí, quiero‘. The result was a total communion with the audience at Sadler’s Wells, who will forever remember this date.
On the same stage, Olga Pericet brought out all her interpretative ferocity during the performance of ‘La Leona‘. Together with five extraordinary musicians, she managed to connect with the audience thanks to the perfect combination of dance, live music and stage design. La Leona is a show that began its journey at Flamenco Festival’s In-Progress artistic residency programme in Torrox, Malaga.
IN-PROGRESS ON STAGE
At Flamenco Festival London 2023 we enjoyed the world premieres of the In-Progress creative laboratories developed in the town of Torrox with the collaboration of Torrox’s City Council. This is the case of ‘Puerto Alegría‘ by Maui de Utrera, which captivated the audience of the Cervantes Theatre with its different way of understanding art and flamenco; a musical theatre full of rhythm, humour and a subtly overwhelming personality.
In the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells we also attended the much awaited performance of ‘Touching A Man‘, devised by the dancer and choreographer Julio Ruiz, accompanied on stage by Javier de la Asunción. ‘Touching A Man’ is not a show, nor a performance, but a story in which the artists explore the sense of emotions transmitted by touch through movement and dance.
The Olivier Awards nominee and National Dance Prize winner Manuel Liñán gave a sample of the artistic residency he has been carrying out from 7 to 12 July at the Sadler’s Wells studios. The final result of ‘Amor Amado Amen‘ thrilled the audience with its exploration of the concept of love in the broadest sense of the word, using movement to delve into other themes such as desire and religion.
THE FLAMENCO TO COME
As could not be otherwise, the avant-garde and the latest proposals in contemporary flamenco have also been present in this eighteenth edition of Flamenco Festival London.
Estévez/Paños y Compañía (National Dance Award 2019) proposed a daring and colossal show: ‘La Confluencia‘, which ended up thrilling the public through a groundbreaking flamenco language that feeds on tradition and contemporary art.
‘Antípodas‘, which was performed the day before at the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester, was also present on the last day of the festival at Rich Mix London. Between strings, voices and movements full of plasticity, Florencia Oz and Isidora O’Ryan presented a sensual performance on the border of dance, flamenco and visual poetry.
The closing of the festival came with the latest project by Álvaro Moreno, who together with percussionist Esteban Perles gave live to the themes of ‘Yeli Yeli‘, co-created with music producer Pedro Da Linha. A show that fused flamenco culture and that of the Iberian diasporas and that kept the public dancing to the rhythm of folk and electronic music for the entire evening.
In London alone, after this 2023 edition, Flamenco Festival has already exceeded 300,000 spectators and 300 performances, by some of the most relevant figures and young promises of today’s flamenco, thus becoming a consolidated event in the British capital and in its theater season, and a space for the discovery of the paths that flamenco is beginning to build in search of new horizons.
After its London edition, Flamenco Festival adds in this 2023 more than 33,500 spectators in the United Kingdom and the United States.
To date, Flamenco Festival has offered 1311 performances and presented 170 companies in 164 venues around the world, with all the big names in flamenco in the last 20 years.
The most important platform for flamenco worldwide
Throughout its 20 years of history, Flamenco Festival has taken over almost the entire world, having presence in 101 cities, presenting 129 companies, 1.225 shows and an audience of over 1,600.000 people.
The largest flamenco platform in the international scene
Operating since 1996, Flamenco Festival is the main international flamenco promoter in the world. Its mission is to promote and spread the richness and variety of flamenco art, from traditional flamenco to the most avant-garde proposals.