Taranto aleatorio

María del Mar Suárez, La Chachi

Choreographer María del Mar Suárez (aka La Chachi) and singer Lola Dolores could as easily be sitting on a Mediterranean terrace as under a theatre spotlight. Nonchalantly rolling cigarettes, spitting out  sunflower seed shells, and bobbing their heads to their own internal soundtracks, they appear blissfully unbothered by the audience watching them.

Indifference to observation permeates Taranto Aleatorio as the performers generate passionate, fiery, and at times melancholic flamenco rhythms physically and vocally. There are moments when they face the audience – La Chachi confronts us with pounding feet and clicking fingers – yet mostly they seem to be performing for their own pleasure, casting their gazes inwards and contorting their faces into caricatured expressions of enjoyment. 

While in other circumstances this could be alienating, Suárez and Dolores’ self-indulgence is highly amusing, probably even more so for Spanish-speakers and flamenco aficionados who understand the evident in-jokes. As they head off stage after their bow, singing and stamping all the way, I’m desperate to follow them and join their vivacious two-woman party.

Emily May

As we walk in, we’re sized up by two chin-jutting, sassy-seeming women sitting front of stage on fold-away orange metal chairs. They’re dressed in billowy, shiny shell-suits. The one in blue is gleefully spitting out sunflower seed skins, while the other, in black, nonchalantly rolls a cigarette. Both morph between aloof defiance and teenage strop.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a reverberating note fills the auditorium. It’s the first raw and powerful strains of Lola Dolores, the performer in black’s Taranto, a form of flamenco lament parred down to just voice. Her song is joined by María del Mar Suárez/LaChachi, dancer and choreographer’s stamp and ripple of red shoes. The sister-like pair’s percussive dialogue – at once questioning, echoing, confronting, and occasionally comforting – is pure compressed energy, perforated with spontaneous explosions of emotional wildness and rare, pin-drop silences. There’s a blink-and-you-miss flash of hip-hop and another of funk. This fabulously radical, feminist flamenco dance-duel-duet knowingly plays with tradition but retains a soul-piercing depth. It had us on our feet at the end.

Oonagh Duckworth