Company director Irene Rimer gathered family, friends and artists from Birmingham and far beyond to tell the story of the art form that has consumed so much of her life. As the program's title, “Universal Flamenco,” suggested, the dance and music that originated in 18th century Andalusia has evolved to become the world's property. The titled also mirrored Rimer's recently published method book on the subject, which was dedicated to her father, who was in attendance.
The main show unfolded as a two-part catalog of flamenco music and dance – Sevillanas, Farruca, Alegrias, Siguiriyas and the like. Most of the virtuosity came in the second part. Exquisite guitar solos from Roberto Verdi and Tony Arnold were interspersed among Spanish songs, sung by Antonio Cabello, Lucia, of Valdemar and Lucia, and Rimer herself.
Among the standouts were Cathy de Sol's “Solea,” a pounding tour de force done in a bright red gown, the dancer's stern looks and lightning-speed heel-to-toe rhythms reaching to the essence of flamenco dance. Rimer's “Tientos” matched de Sol's virtuosity stomp for stomp, movement for movement, making clear the loyalty she has garnered in her seven years as Corazon Flamenco's leader.
But flamenco isn't all stomping and attitude. Juan Torres displayed grand lyricism and elegance in a classic “Alegrias.” Victoria Langdon's demure demeanor turned to fancy footwork in the Cuban “Guajiras,” an example of flamenco diaspora.
The quick-paced “Bulerias,” danced by the entire ensemble, brought the concerto to a rousing, uplifting close.
Flamenco's rich history, technique, diaspora and beauty were vividly displayed at this event. Rimer's efforts have added vibrancy to Birmingham's growing cultural diversity, and she should be applauded for that.