At the beginning of Vamos al tiroteo, the new flamenco show by Rafaela Carrasco, the darkened, silent theater is pierced by a strobe light, clacking castanets, and the scratchings of an old phonograph record. Glimpsed in the flashes, a woman in man's trousers and shirt is dancing and fingering castanets. The image, slightly transgressive, slightly contemporary, but firmly anchored to traditional flamenco, applied to the rest of the show as well.
PASSION AND RESTRAINT Like a tap dancer, Rafaela Carrasco subordinates everything to her footwork, but pulls the customary spirals and curving gestures out of her whole body.
Presented by CRASHarts at the Cutler Majestic, Vamos al tiroteo (translated in the program as "It's time for the shoot-out!") refers to a Federico Garcia Lorca song, recorded by the great 1930s Spanish dancer La Argentinita and heard later in the program. I could only infer from the title and the subtitle (versiones de un tiempo pasado) that Carrasco was straddling past and present, but her gesture was less defiant than Lorca's.
The 12 numbers of dance and music showed off Carrasco's brilliant footwork and her choreography for four male dancers (Ricardo López, José Maldonado, Pedro Córdoba, and David Coria). Alternating with the dancing, the musicians had their turn. Singer Gema Caballero and pianist Pablo R. Maldonado interpreted popular songs with lush harmonies and vocalise reminiscent of the folk songs arranged by classical composers during the early 20th century. The ensemble also included two guitars and a cello.
Carrasco devised ways of breaking up the static look of a flamenco show — crossing the stage in a dialogue with singer Manuel Gagó, and later dancing a temperamental duet with David Coria and a big fringed shawl. A trio of men passed a red hat around and shared solo dance slots. In another scene they strode through a red beaded curtain, flung out short bursts of solo dancing, then turned their backs and retreated through the beads.
My favorite parts were the numbers where Carrasco summoned great cadenzas of footwork in inspired, shifting rhythms, accompanied by the men clapping and stamping in counterpoint and chiming in with her. Like a tap dancer, she subordinates everything to the footwork. She pulls the customary spirals and curving gestures out of her whole body, like a modern dancer, so they seem restrained, but passionate.
Dances often took place in harsh pools of light focused directly down. This effect isn't kind to the face or the body, but it draws more attention to the terrific tales the feet are telling. In the last number, Carrasco and the men staged an optical illusion: as the downlight would leave one spot, the person in it would slip into the darkness and reappear further on. The whole group seemed to keep dancing in one place, but together they crossed the whole stage.
Saturday afternoon at Wellesley College the light became one of many sensual elements in play for Weathervane, a 40-minute improvisation by former Merce Cunningham dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener, singer Jessika Kenney, and violinist Eyvind Kang. With the late-winter light pouring in through the long wall of windows and tumbling upper spaces of the college's dramatic Tishman Commons, the dancers probed and contracted and balanced in odd positions. The musicians produced clear tones that they later orchestrated electronically into dense clusters of sound.