reviewed by Paula Citron
Toronto International Flamenco Festival 2008
Starring Mercedes Ruiz and Company, Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company, Compañia Carmen Romero and Gareth Own
Bluma Appel Theatre
The second annual Toronto International Flamenco Festival was a stunning success. The packed house at the Bluma Appel Theatre started cheering early, and kept right on until the final curtain. This concert had a real buzz.
This year’s star was the imperially slim, 29-year-old Spanish sensation Mercedes Ruiz who brought along two dancers, three singers, two guitarists, one percussionist, a pianist and some gorgeous costume changes. Her show Juncá was a tribute to her home town Jerez, the heartland of flamenco.
Ruiz’s style is marked by passion, drama, and speed. She executes incredibly intricate footwork, but she is also capable of gorgeous adagio. For example, she performed an erotic jazz inspired number sporting an impressive bata de cola, the spectacular long ruffled train, accompanied by a singer, and, of all things, a pianist.
The talented Canadians in the opening act were Esmeralda Enrique and Carmen Romero and their companies, and 20-year-old guitar wunderkind Gareth Owen from Victoria, BC.