Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Winspear = 'a small cafe in Spain'

Photo: 'Local bellydancer 'Gypsy Lady' (Diane Szoke) posing with Paco Pena dancers, at the Westin, after the show'. Photo by Denise Leclair.

Several years ago, late in the evening, I was walking down Robson St in Vancouver with my wife and we heard some Spanish music. Investigation found a small cafe, with a group of musicians, singers and dancers at the end of a dinner party. They had moved some chairs into a small circle for the musicians, and the singer, or dancers would perform inside the circle. It turned into a magical evening that I will remember forever.

On Sunday we saw Paco Pena at Edmonton's Winspear Centre. The show started with the musicians, in a dark semi-circle, on a few chairs. Miguel Orgeta walked into a square of light - as if it was thrown from a streetlight thru an upstair's window, and started tapping his cane. And then he began to sing. The stage in the Winspear shrunk. We were transported to a small cafe.

The evening continued with music, dance, singing, and more and more and more. It was not just a wonderful evening 'we were there', in a small cafe in Spain, with magical musicians and dancers. The lighting, with squared or rectangular spots and backlight - always a bit dim, held the illusion throughout the show.

The dancers were fantastic. A rectangle of light appeared and one of the male dancers glided down, like it was an icy slope. His feet moved so fast he floated.
Charo Espino's performance was subtle and spectacular. A male dancer stomped onto the stage, like a little boy - and gave a performance so devoid of fear, that it could only be accomplished by a reckless showoff teenager.

Paco Pena's performance was stunning, and the musicians he brought with him more so. If you missed it, be sorry. Or perhaps you can redeem yourself by taking a trip to Spain, and trying to find a late night performance in a small cafe, down some side-street.

Paco Pena
Offical Paco Pena photo gallery (not my photos)
Winspear Centre

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