Because Ted is a very good husband, he remembered that we had tickets to A Compás!, a flamenco dance concert that I’d seen advertisements for and thought would be very cool to go to.

I was desperately wrong. It was not cool. It was *fantastic*.

All right, first off I must confess that the lead dancer, Ángel Muñoz, looked like a Spanish cross between Peter Wingfield and Neil Gaiman, so basically I could’ve sat there and watched him do absolutely nothing for hours on end. However, he could also *dance*. Oh my God. I’d assumed, going in, that the woman was the lead dancer, because, well, she’s the one featured on most of the program. Now, my eye was immediately drawn to Ángel (I really did, for one startling instant when he walked on stage, think it was Peter Wingfield), but the guy was so *physically* my type I spent probably three numbers watching before I was satisfied that no, he really was the best of them and it wasn’t just the OMG SEXAY factor.

…not, you understand, that the OMG SEXAY factor was not extremely, extremely high. I mean, it was flamenco, for God’s sake. With live music. The man who put together the show, Paco Peña, is apparently pretty much the most renowned and celebrated flamenco guitarist in the world. He’s unbelieveable. 6 string classic Spanish guitar, and literally jaw-dropping good. He must have ten fingers on each hand. He had one solo number, the second piece of the evening, and…I mean, honestly jaw-dropping. I have to get some of his albums.

He also did a non-dance piece with the woman dancer, who plays the castanets as well as dances. She’s also extraordinarily good with them, to the point that I was almost giggling at how fast and clear the sounds were. (I also thought, “Wow, you wouldn’t want to thumb-wrestle with *her*, I bet.”) And the two of them together were, as Ted said, a classic Spanish painting: she looks the part of a Spanish princess, tall and slender and, you know, passionately restrained, and he’s a handsome silver-haired gentle/genial-looking Spaniard, so they were compelling to watch even sitting still (or as still as they sat while playing music, anyway).

But it was the dancing I was there for. :) The woman, actually, I think, was the least skilled of the three, which is not saying she wasn’t very good. The second man (I can’t tell from the programs who’s who, I’m afraid: all the musicians and dancers are listed together without any indication of which is which. Señor Peña was obvious, since he was the guy with the solo guitar number and also the oldest of them, and I got Ángel’s name from the pacopena website) was more flamboyant in style than Muñoz, and less crisp. It was cool watching them dance together in the first number, because while they were doing the same basic moves, their timing and placement was different for their hands and upper bodies, but man, from the knees down they were in *perfect* synchronicity. I kept looking back and forth from their upper bodies to their feet just because the physical performances were so different I could hardly believe they were keeping the same time, but hoo boy were they.

Ted and I were both absurdly delighted by the woman’s skirt-catching kick, wherein she would kick the skirt up so she could snag it with one hand so you could see her feet as she danced. Once she missed, but she got it on the second try. :) She, in general, had this desperately intense expression that was so serious it was almost funny, whereas the second man almost always looked like he was just having fun, and Muñoz went back and forth between incredible (sexy) intensity and looking as though he was having the time of his life. I don’t think any of them *weren’t*, but she mostly looked like she’d get a headache from concentrating so hard. :)

There was a sort of Romeo & Juliet number early on, during which I kept expecting the second guy to put in an appearance and tear the lovers apart, but it was just the two of them, and astonishingly beautiful. Both Ángel Muñoz and the other man had extended solos in the first act, Muñoz in a very bullfighter costume (except in black, so no flash) which showed off his truly phenomenal behind to great advantage, and then the other man in red shoes. His piece was very funny: he was trying to impress the audience and the musicians, and there was a lot of wah-wah-wah from the musicians, so he’d try harder, and wah-wah-wah, and harder, and wah-wah-wah, and he got more exasperated and looked to the audience for help (and Irish audiences are, in my experience thus far, weirdly quiet, so he didn’t get as much as I thought he should), and it was a great number all around, if not as astonishing as Muñoz’s.

But I think my favorite piece was the first part of the second act, which had four numbers tied together. It opened with Paco on stage playing alone under a spotlight, and then Ángel did a very slow, sensual approach, and it was this magnificent love story between the musician and the dancer. Just completely breathtaking. Then–I don’t remember the transitions clearly, but the second man had a solo piece with a different musician, and Ángel had another piece where he began to dance to one of the musicians, and the lights came up on another, and it was another wonderful, wonderful story of the dancer being torn between two lovers. My God.

And then finally, still in that montauge, the two men came on stage together, and I thought, yes, this was going to be the competition piece between the two that I just knew was coming from almost the beginning of the show.

Oh my God was I wrong. I was expecting (and so was Ted, it turned out, when we talked about it after the show) an aggressive dueling banjos sort of dance, and instead got an *incredibly* sensual piece with almost none of the combativeness I expected. It was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen two people do with their clothes on. Or without, for that matter. They flirted, they played off each other, they admired each other, they teased, they taught, but they did not fight, and it was amazing.

By comparison, the pieces with the woman seemed rather overdone and flashy. Which, given that she really is very good, says an awful lot about the /other/ pieces.

Muñoz had a solo that must have been fifteen minutes long, for which the audience went mad. And the last piece with all three dancers was a letdown, comparatively, but it was still very good. They got an incredibly well-deserved standing ovation that went on and on, and maybe because it went on so long, one of the musicians, a woman probably in her fifties, who was one of the singers, started to dance. I think that’s the only dance concert I’ve ever been to that had an encore! And she was wonderful, and the more flamboyant of the men danced with her some, and the audience was thrilled, and everybody went away very, very happy. It was a great, great show.


  1. valkyrwench

    Holy cow, does he look like Peter Wingfield. I would have been drooling in my seat for the whole performance, assuming that I had the willpower to not fling myself at the stage…

    Thank you for sharing the performance with us.

  2. kristine_smith

    I don’t know wo Peter Wingfield is–all I see is Spanish Gaiman. Which is pretty good.

    Isn’t it funny how hard your Physical Type hits you? When I see mine, it’s like there’s no one else in the room.

  3. desperance

    Good grief, woman – you enthuse until you’re drooling all over the introduction, and then you put Paco Peña behind the cut? You went to a Paco gig and tried to hide this information…?

    Okay, gorgeous sexy dancers, yadda yadda. Trust me, I’m not immune; I’m not even as immune as I’m pretending, with my unconvincing yadda-yaddas. But still. This is Paco Peña…!

    (You will gather, I’m a fan. But he is simply the best, and has been for, oh, the thirty years that I’ve been listening to him, that long at least…)

  4. mizkit

    I always have a hard time deciding where to cut these things. But as I said, I was there for the dancers, so… :)

    He’s *incredible*. Ted said that during his solo he’d closed his eyes to listen, and then he started thinking, “…wait a minute. I can’t be hearing this right. How can he be hitting that many notes at once?” and had to open his eyes again to *watch*. Any albums in particular I should get?

  5. mizkit

    Doesn’t he? I pretty much couldn’t take my eyes off him. I had to make myself watch the other dancers. :) And I was six rows back, which helped with the not flinging myself at the stage… :)

  6. mizkit

    Peter Wingfield played (most famously) Methos on the Highlander television series, but also played the character Lyman in X2, which more people are probably likely to have seen. Lyman was the soldier who wasn’t sure about this whole experimenting on kids thing who then got blown up by a grenade. :) Anyway, he happens to be, physically, what God would have arranged for me if I’d said, “Please build me a perfect man,” except God, being somewhat cooler than I am, thought of giving him hazel eyes that change to black in the right lighting.

    Amusingly enough, there’s a picture somewhere on the internet of Peter at about 8. Aside from the fact that his hair is black, it could be a picture of my husband at age 8. :)

    And, yeah, it really is kind of astounding. I’ve laid eyes on, oh, probably three guys in my life who are Perfect Physical Specimens According To Catie, and it’s really sort of aback-taking. I wonder how or why that gets hardwired into the brain.

  7. ellyssian

    Paco de Lucia’s “Live in America”

    Different Paco, but, in my opinion, better.

    I saw the “Live in America” show years ago at Berkleee – a somewhat similar experience to what Ted was relating. I mention that experience in my review of de Lucia’s Cositas Buenas in my LJ.

    For Paco Pena recordings, I like one many don’t seem to – his “Misa Flamenca” which combines flamenco with a choir singing mass in latin. You’re not going to hear a lot of solo guitar on it, and that might be why the guitarists don’t appreciate it much.

    You might also want to give this opera a try – lots of interesting flamenco work in it.

  8. michele_blue

    Oh, that sounds amazing. I love the incredible…self-control? That’s not the right word, but I’m floundering around for it…of flamenco. Passionate restraint. The dual aspects of precision and intensity. The direct conversation between musician and dancer, the costumes, the beat…


  9. desperance

    Oof. Start with ‘Misa Flamenca’, perhaps? Then just grab at random – one of the live albums, and one of the early ones? – until you’ve had enough…

  10. desperance

    “Passionate restraint” – yes, exactly that. Red-hot but contained, tight-reined: like all great art, it’s about rigour as much as energy.

  11. mizkit

    Which is, I think, *exactly* why Ángel Muñoz is the better dancer than the other man: the other man was a *very* good dancer, but he was more flamboyant. Charming, entertaining, good fun to watch, but that edge of playfulness in that style of dance loses something about the dance itself. Muñoz, even when he was clearly just enjoying the holy living hell out of what he was doing, never lost that slight constraint that made his performance simply breathtaking.

  12. marith

    Oh, it sounds like “Misa Flamenca” might be right up my alley. Thank you for the rec!

    *weeps* Kit, O Kit, why could you not have magically somehow posted this review two months ago? They were HERE, they did a show in Stanford, and I would’ve been there for sure if I’d read your post. :) Dang!

    (Hm, it looks like they’ll be in the UK through June..maybe scribbles can go see them, though.)

  13. mizkit

    Oh how I wish I could have magically posted it two months ago so you would know to go! I guess you’ll know if they come back through, though…O.O

    I’d never really seen flamenco dancing before, and went not on anybody’s recommendation but because I thought it would be cool to see some, and wow. Wow. Just wow.

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