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Homeboy hombres
Isaac and Nino de los Reyes at the BCA

Two young stars of the Reyes flamenco dynasty brought a new show to the Boston Center for the Arts’ Cyclorama last weekend. ¡Hombres Flamencos! featured Isaac and Nino de los Reyes, under the aegis of their father, Ramón, and the Boston-based Ramón de los Reyes Spanish Dance Theater. The brothers were joined by guest dancer Alfonso Losa and a six-man musical group.

Flamenco companies sometimes try for stagy effects, but the Cyclorama show had no decorative or theatrical accessories. A portable floor was set up at one end of the space with rows of seats on risers pulled in close, but — especially in the natural light of Saturday afternoon — there was no disguising the building’s echoing, domed vastness around us. The whole place was filled with the scent of lilies, decorations left over from the BCA’s " Hubbub! " gala a couple of days before. Through the high windows you could even see workmen hauling steel beams into place for the 40,000-square-foot Parcel 8 facility that’s going up next door.

Although the circumstances weren’t exactly intimate, I felt a connection to the performers I sometimes don’t get in a theater. They came on with a get-down-to-business feeling, ready to show us their best and confident we’d get it without special inciting.

From their first, co-choreographed number, Templando, the three dancers showed different personalities and dancing styles. Working at first in unison as the musicians played something subdued and rhythmic, they offered a little lexicon of classic attitudes and steps. It was as if they wanted to demonstrate the foot patterns, the elegant matador lunges and curving arms, that they’d go on to develop and maybe throw away later on.

There were little introductory solos. Losa, a bit heavier-set and paler than the brothers, seemed to enjoy the slow build-ups to each flurry of steps. Nino, the younger Reyes, kept his arms pulled in tight and drove his whole body down into the ground. Isaac de los Reyes was a bit looser than his brother and did some picky articulations like walking on his heels. They turned and faced each other, and after a session of close ensemble work, taking turns in answering rhythms, they backed out together. They elaborated on these individual traits in longer solos each one choreographed for himself.

Losa’s solea, Quemando el aire, was like a soliloquy in a play. With extreme slowness and inner concentration, he seemed to be experiencing something too terrible or difficult to admit. Finally, with a sensuous twist of the upper body, he’d let out an exclamation of steps, then sink into his reverie again. His outbursts got longer and more complex, until he spun into about six pirouettes and a tour en l’air and left.

Nino de los Reyes, still a teenager, projects the arrogant, rebellious upstart persona. He started his alegrías, A mi forma, with salvos of steps and pauses to make sure he had our attention. I’ve noticed the influence of contemporary tap and hip-hop on flamenco’s younger generation, and Nino is a master of the sudden pivot turn, the grounded assertiveness, the sense of rebounding as a source of more speed and maneuverability, the action-ready arms and upper body. He built up to a rapid-fire six-count rhythm with a whole variety of accents and ended almost galloping into the ground.

Metales, the seguiriyas for Isaac de los Reyes, brought out more of the dancer’s fancy footwork: kicks, brushes and slides to the sides, crossing a foot in front or in back of the other, hammering heelwork. As well as sending his energy down into the ground, Isaac stressed the upper end of the vertical dimension with reaching arm exclamations and high pointing gestures. He did a section of very quiet variations on a repeating rhythm, and some body-slapping accompaniments to his most excitable passages.

As is typical of a flamenco puro performance, the musicians played numbers of their own. Jesús Losada " El Romani " was the lead guitarist, with drummer Adolfo Herrera, violinist Lorenzo Peris, and guitarist Jonathan " Juanito " Pascual. Juan Trivino and Leo Trivino didn’t have the strained, scratchy intensity of some older flamenco singers, but they sang with their own passion, and I appreciated the clarity of their voices. Even more than the dancers, the musicians were matter-of-fact, modern, attentive to one another, and caught up in what they were performing rather than in making a big impression on the audience.

Issue Date: April 3 - 10, 2003
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