The Lowry, Salford; Monday 7th May, 2018
Choreographed and performed by leading flamenco artist Manuel Liñán, Sinergia is an energetic, hour-long production of music and dance which showcases the traditional components of flamenco – a genre originally fused from a variety of southern Spanish folk music styles.
With a guitarist, two singers and Liñán himself, the performance combines the familiar components of flamenco into a series of acts which, as the name of the show suggests, are intended to together produce a synergetic effect greater than the sum of their parts.
David Carpio and Ismael de La Rosa provide the powerful vocals, often delivered as a duet but perhaps more striking and moving when performed individually. Together their delivery produces a near dream-like singing experience, helped by a touch of reverberating echo which seemed to amplify the already strong hypnotic effect. The southern Spanish origins of flamenco became incredibly clear, particularly in the case of Carpio, whose voice fuses the traditional Spanish with a very strong sense of north African, almost religious chanting.
The impeccable guitar performance by Víctor Márquez exudes the unmistakable sound of flamenco, and thus the very sound of Spain itself. But star of the show is dancer Manuel Liñán, with an extraordinary performance that both mesmerises and entertains. The speed of Liñán’s movement suggests a disconnect between his feet and the rest of his body, the traditional arms-outstretched pose creating the illusion of a body floating serenely in air whilst the feet move beneath at bewildering pace.
The audio effects created by Liñán’s dancing are stunning, aided by the placement of a microphone at his feet. The crystal-clear high notes expected from the tapping of feet are accompanied by the much more unusual sensation of scraping as the feet are dragged – a noise close to that of chalk on a blackboard, helping to strongly suggest that something physical and tangible is being etched out by this performance.
Two other features stand out, both part of traditional flamenco form: the rhythmic clicking of fingers, which was loud and pronounced, to the point where it almost sounded painful and synthesised, though it was clearly not for these expert performers. Coupled with this was the traditional clapping of hands, but here the variety is extraordinary, with such a noticeable difference in mood generated between the noise of fingers-to-palm, compared to the softer thud of palm-to-palm.
Sinergia is an exhilarating and bewildering experience for the human senses: a complex and exciting computational challenge as the human mind attempts to match a rich cacophony of sounds with the limited assistance of what the eye is able track of Liñán’s rapid foot movements on stage. And while this goes on the moods of the piece are slowly and subtly shifted, never allowing enough time for rational thought processes to compartmentalise it all. Sinergia is ultimately a brief journey of escapist pleasure, one which draws awe and wonder at the pleasure of experiencing outstanding artistry from an relatively unfamiliar performance culture.
|Visual pleasure||A stage stripped completely bare with black curtains on all sides, the focus was heavily centred on the four performers dressed in smart, black suits and their seven, white chairs. The spotlighting effects were incredible, moving each performer in and out of the darkness, adding drama in the absence of a coherent plot.||4|
|Auditory pleasure||The singing and guitar performances were world class, each worthy of solo performances in their own right. All made even more striking when coupled with the heavily amplified cacophony emanating from Liñán’s dancing feet.||5|
|Architecture & Theme||Constructed from a medley of traditional flamenco styles, Liñán’s choreography gives each performer plenty of performance opportunity with a series of solos, as well as collaborative pieces involving improvisation.||4|
|Artistic delivery||Three outstanding examples of artistic expression: guitar, voice, and, most impressive of all, the extraordinary physical movements from Liñán himself.||5|
|Overall impact||A bewildering hour of performance where guitarist, singers and dancer combine to deliver world-class individual performances as well as expertly improvised collaboration. A fascinating example of performance art from an unfamiliar source.||4|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|