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August 4, 2010 / HJD

Flicks I love: Carlos Saura’s Flamenco!

Carlos Saura's "Flamenco Hoy" in Barcelona

Spanish director Carlos Saura has a thing for showcasing top musicians and dancers on a stage drenched in color. I saw Flamenco! at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre in 2008. Since then, I’ve been a convert to Saura’s intuitive use of light, color and shadow in his dance documentaries. It’s an aesthetic that allows even subtle movement of a dancer stand out and communicate, without competing with it. An example of how less is more.

Born in the 1930’s and raised in a family of musicians and painters, Saura dedicated himself to photography for many years. He moved into filmmaking and in 1994, he put out Flamenco! — considered the most important audiovisual record of the artform. A feast for the eyes and ears, the film presented the cream of the flamenco world like luminary guitarist Paco de Lucía, dancers Mario Maya and Matilde Coral, and singers Chocolate and Fernanda de Utrera.

In 2009, septuagenarian Saura made a sequel called Flamenco, Flamenco! In the same year, he directed a live show called Flamenco Hoy, bringing to life his dance documentaries and casts with current flamenco stars.

Interesting bit of trivia: While the lighting seems to be signature of Saura, it is actually the work of Vittorio Storaro, an Italian cinematographer whose artistry with lighting created the dramatic mood in Apocalypse Now.

Bulerías de Jerez in Flamenco! Features La Paquera de Jerez, Fernando de la Morena, Barullo & El Torta.

Sevillanas correales in Saura’s live show, Flamenco Hoy.


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