Show review: Solera by Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells Theatre (17-20 April 2024)

If you’re up for a show that’s both fascinating and soul-stirring, you’re in for a treat with Solera by Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company. Gracing the stage at Sadler’s Wells Theatre last night, this incredible performance celebrates flamenco in a way that mixes the wisdom of age with the energy of youth.

From the moment the curtains go up, you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Spain’s flamenco tradition. But this isn’t just about the past; it’s also about how flamenco stays fresh and exciting today. Paco Peña, a master of flamenco guitar, leads the group with his amazing music, guiding both experienced performers and newcomers through a captivating journey of rhythm and passion.

solera show woman dancing flamenco for the brochure

The show’s idea is as rich as the finest Spanish wine. Solera is the Spanish method of wine creation that mixes the qualities of younger and older wines to create the finest blend. Barrels are stacked in a unique formation and new wine is added to the top barrels, travelling through the system to infuse with the aged wine below.

Like making wine, where you mix younger and older wines to make something great, Solera mixes young performers’ energy with the know-how of older artists. The result? A performance that’s both new and full of tradition.

Under Jude Kelly’s direction, Solera unfolds in two exciting acts. In the first act, you’ll see behind the scenes, into a rehearsal room where flamenco comes alive. Dancers, musicians, and singers come together in a celebration of their art, leaving behind their phones as they dive into the rhythms of flamenco. It’s a real and honest look at how creativity works, with every note and step filled with teamwork and discovery.

flamenco dancers

Photo: Paco Pena – Solera © Elliott Franks

While the first act sets the scene with its simple style, the second act bursts with energy. The stage lights up with dramatic lighting, beautiful costumes, and amazing performances that show off the power of flamenco. From traditional dances to modern moves, every moment shows how vibrant flamenco can be.

Throughout the show, you’ll feel the connection between different generations. Older performers share their knowledge with new talent, making a rich mix of movement and music that connects the past with the present. It’s a reminder of how art can bring us together, no matter where we come from.

flamenco dancers

Photo: Paco Pena – Solera © Elliott Franks

However, while the costumes were stunning, some audience members, including myself, hoped to see more skirts flying around, adding an extra layer of visual excitement to the already dynamic dance routines. There were only really three women’s costumes to be seen — one black, one green-blue, and one yellow. A red outfit like the one shown on the front cover of the show brochure would have been nice. Red is the colour of flamenco. Of course, that is a bit touristic, I realise that, but the movements of floaty skirts add a lot of charm to stage flamenco. This was my only complaint, though it did inspire me to seek out a flamenco school in London now.

Flamenco isn’t just about dance and music; it’s also deeply rooted in Spanish culture and history. The passionate and expressive art form has its origins in Andalusia, where it emerged from the fusion of various cultures, including Moorish, Jewish, and Spanish. Federico García Lorca, one of Spain’s most celebrated poets, famously wrote about flamenco in his works, capturing the essence of the art form’s raw emotion and intensity.

Solera isn’t just a show; it’s an experience you won’t forget. Whether you’re a long-time fan of flamenco or new to it, this show will leave you amazed.

So don’t miss out on Solera. Get your tickets from here now and get ready for a journey of rhythm, passion, and pure flamenco spirit.

Memorias, a film by Ben Williams featuring Paco Peña in his home-town of Córdoba, Spain, is available on Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage for free, as part of the Elixir Festival (10-20 April 2024). Additionally, Solera will be at Brighton Dome on 15 & 16, November 2024.

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