Prophecies

Kahlil Gibran's meditations on the human condition were fiercely grounded by flamenco in A'lante's adaptation

A'lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble
A'lante Flamenco Dance Ensemble

Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center,
701 W. Riverside

www.alanteflamenco.com
Through Jan. 19
Running time: 1 hr., 45 min.

With Prophecies, A'lante Flamenco proved its genre as worthy for reconsidering Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. No matter how much the author's overplayed meditations on the human condition threatened to alight in abstraction, the fierce tethers in flamenco's drama, existential expression, and rawness of invention grounded them obstinately in the now.

Artistic Director Olivia Chacón developed dances based on seven of the prophet's ruminations and framed them with depictions of the sea, over which the prophet travels. At the start of the work, the spinning of Ashi Damvar, a barefoot dancer described in the program as "a self-taught whirler," drew the audience into her meditation. As the prophet figure, she guided the narrative to "On Love," "On Prayer," and "On Religion," topics rich in opportunities to showcase the dynamics of flamenco music and dancing, performed by the troupe of five female dancers and six musicians.

Chacón's attempts at modernizing "On Talking," which began with a silly bit about a ringing cell phone, and "On Friendship," backed by a projection of a Facebook page, came abruptly and might have been unnecessary. As a genre that is highly dependent on the talents and expressions of dancers and musicians and is often improvisational, isn't flamenco self-renewing? But the recorded video appearances by flamenco artists around the world – the Facebook friends – who joined the onstage cast from their studios, bedrooms, and garages, made for a joyous "Juerga Digital," a virtual jam session. Between these brushes with technology, "On Work" went the opposite direction in time, as a trio found barefoot joy in the bounty of a wheat field and a traditional Andalucian threshing song.

In "On Self-Knowledge," Chacón's furious tientos identified her as inextricable from her role as a channel for the dance. In a deep purple, fringed dress, she offered up her delicate-featured face and thin, jutting arms in a staggering backbend before earthly, almost combustible rhythms again overtook her. Prophecies showcased the individual talents of the rest of the cast as well: Stephanie Keeton's athletic passion, the quieter depths of Kara Leal and Karen Vilches. But my eye often was drawn to Claire Spera, the supreme fluidity of her hands and arms sprung from the reservoir of her upper back, a quiet powerhouse, and the tallness of her neck remaining uncompromised by her downward glance, which held a slight furrow at the brow.

As an encore, the musicians moved to center stage, and the formidable singer Chayito Champion sang, muy triste, about corozones and the rosas that were muertes. I realized that her face held that same tension at the brow that I'd seen in Spera. It's the mark, I think, of a medium channeling this art form.

READ MORE
More Prophecies
'Prophecies'
'Prophecies'
The wisdom of Kahlil Gibran's 'The Prophet' is translated into a new language: flamenco

Robert Faires, Jan. 10, 2014

More Austin dance
Jonelle Seitz's Top 10 Brave Dance Artists of 2016
Jonelle Seitz's Top 10 Brave Dance Artists of 2016
The year revealed how much courage and inspiration can be found in Austin's masters of movement

Jonelle Seitz, Dec. 30, 2016

The Theorists' <i>Hiraeth</i>
The Theorists’ Hiraeth
A sprawling evening of art and community organized by Amy Morrow and company showed the challenge of editing in our age

Jonelle Seitz, Sept. 23, 2016

More Arts Reviews
Vortex Repertory Company's <i>Storm Still</i>
Vortex Repertory Company's Storm Still
Gabrielle Reisman's script refashions King Lear into the daughters' story, and the Vortex stages it with admirable heart

Elizabeth Cobbe, Sept. 15, 2017

Teatro Vivo's <i>Enfrascada</i>
Teatro Vivo’s Enfrascada
Tanya Saracho's dark comedy about moving on from heartbreak is staged with humor, honesty, and magic

T. Lynn Mikeska, Sept. 15, 2017

More by Jonelle Seitz
Forklift Danceworks' My Parks, My Pools, My City
Forklift Danceworks' My Parks, My Pools, My City
With Bartholomew Swims, Allison Orr's dance company plunges into Austin's pool problem

July 28, 2017

Performa / Dance's <i>Midsummer Offerings</i>
Performa / Dance's Midsummer Offerings
The three dances in this mixed program all turned on the difficulty of making connections

June 30, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Prophecies, Austin dance, A'lante Flamenco, Olivia Chacón, Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Ashi Damvar, Stephanie Keeton, Kara Leal, Karen Vilches, Claire Spera, Chayito Champion

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)