Sunday, May 6, 2018



The three performance run of Esmeralda Enrique's Spanish Dance Company is a spectacular and lush example of the company's diverse history-based approach to the roots of Spanish dance, and the ways in which it has evolved into an exciting and complex contemporary form.

Divided into two acts, the program begins with a simple setting whereby dancers sit casually among singers and musicians in a cafe setting, and begin to evoke the  mid nineteenth century intimacy of cafes/cantantes where the origins of flamenco began.

This setting became a "catalyst toward the merging of Spanish folk music and the musical ritual of the Spanish gypsy...for the first time, gypsy and non-gypsy appeared together onstage forging a new and powerful art that transcended mere folk music and came to be called flamenco" - opening the form up to a wider audience and forging flamenco into the art form that we know today. (program note)


The casual yet complex intimacy of the first act is a wonderful contrast to the sparser setting that the second act  takes place within. "By the mid 1920's the cafes cantantes began closing their doors. And this began a new era in the history of flamenco: flamenco in the theatre of the world." Enrique's tenure at the Fleck Dance Theatre has embraced, over the years, this spectacular art forms movement into world theatre stages  - enriching diversity of form within the dance community in a complex and ever evolving way.


The all female frocked aspect of the company represented EESDC's incredible knack for impeccable ensemble work that also allows the indivudual women to implement specific, divergent qualities within the same choreography. Arms and legs fly and finesse in identical precision and patterns - yet focusing upon a single dancer shows inidivudal creativity and interpretation in incredibly contrasting ways. Juan Ogalla's dancing presence, and his choreography, added to the program his signature, tightly focused virtuosity in solo features, as well as dynamic, almost conversational duets with Enrique herself. 

At one point the featured ensemble of women entered in tailored trousers and enhanced the gender diversity in a way that might be further explored at some point with designs that give a male dancer the opportunity to master the intricate folds of fabric that the women expertly manoeuvre throughout - creating a spellbinding array of form and fabric.

The use of a single leg to skilfully send a lush gathering of wide, thickly stepped layers of extended hemline is always an amazing aspect of the iconic flamenco gown. Although the structure tends to obstruct the underlying lines of the body, this deceiving obstruction skilfully intimates the unseen workings of that same body as  gorgeous, colourful costumes create points of powerful focus and blindingly blurred & beautiful colour throughout. 
The integration and powerful dynamic of the onstage musicians and singers, as they perform without dancers at particular moments, and then begin skilful interactions, gives a sense of the intimacy of the cafe cantante period - and then moves into a more proscenium based grandeur that creates distance between dancers and musicians, yet never loses the intimacy established early on - intimating a kind of historical accuracy that has never been lost within the interpretation of the Enrique company's devotion to both tradition and evolving contemporary nuance.

A female guitarist placed close to Juan Ogalla during one of his solos, punctuated the overall program with a dynamic and supportively flirtatious interactive moment of pure, traditionally-gendered power turned on its head - and back again - playing itself out in amazing bodily and musically instrumental interplay.

During the opening night encore one of the male singers created an unexpected and delightful rapport with dancer Juan Ogalla, and revealed engaging differences within male flamenco style as his body loosely inhabited movements that Ogalla beautifully articulates in a much tighter, more contracted manner that frequently explodes into paradoxical gestures that are simultaneously tight and fluid as arms jettison outward above a body that keeps a kind of masculine expression within the skilful confines of a hard  hitting lower body precision and conformity. The looser effect employed by the singer/dancer gave a strong lightness to the dance - creating a bridge between the play of masculine and feminine that often surfaces in so many forms of traditional and contemporary dance.

This moment with the male singer, becoming the male dancer, represented, perhaps indirectly, the kind of gender diversity the company frequently flirts with. The earlier example in the program of women in black trousers was a subtle reminder of the ways in which gendered bodies behave onstage and off given the varied forms of clothing/costuming assigned traditionally to their craft.

The ensemble, again, with outstanding precision and tightly conceived abandon, enthralled the audience, throughout,  making way for the cheers and the interactive bits of dialogue and eager enthusiastic camaraderie that always exists between spectators, musicians, singers, and dancers during an EESDC event.

A female guitarist placed close to Juan Ogalla during one of his solos, punctuated the overall program with a dynamic interactive moment of pure traditionally gendered power turned on its head - and back again - playing itself out in amazing bodily and musically instrumental interplay.

online source:
EMERALD ENRIQUE SPANISH DANCE COMPANY is valued for its important pioneering contribution to the development of flamenco in Canada. It peerlessly stands on the pillars of traditional flamenco singing, dance and music while beautifully balancing classicism with a contemporary aesthetic. EESDC has been presenting an annual Toronto Season since 1990 and has developed an ever-expanding repertoire that has earned both critical and popular acclaim. The company is recognized for the exceptional level of its productions, receiving three Dora Mavor Moore Awards in addition to 21 nominations over the years. Esmeralda Enrique and her exemplary company of dancers and musicians enthral audiences with the contagious excitement and full depth of feeling that the passionate art of flamenco delivers. NOW Magazine readers voted EESDC Toronto's Best Dance Company for 2015.

EESDC's last three Harbourfront Centre shows were the dazzling An Iconic Journey: A Celebration of 35 Years (2017 - Ensemble nominated for a Dora Award for Outstanding Sound Design/Composition, excerpt:, ¬ Épocas (2016 - Dora Award nomination for Outstanding Performance, excerpt: and Letters to Spain (2015 - Esmeralda Enrique and Juan Ogalla co-nominated for a Dora Award for Outstanding Choreography, Ensemble nominated for Outstanding Performance and two Outstanding Sound Design/Composition nods, excerpt: And here is an excerpt from 2013's Portales and 2012's Aguas/Waters, both featuring Juan Ogalla: , .

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company  De La Raíz - From the Root
Friday, May 4 - Sunday, May 6, 2018
Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm
at Harbourfront Centre's Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West, 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON  Tickets: $32-$48 (Discounts for Seniors, Students, Arts Workers and Groups 10+)
Call the Harbourfront Centre Box Office: 416-973-4000
purchase online at

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