Review: A'lante Flamenco Ensemble's Procession
Updated: Feb 24, 2020
A’lante Flamenco’s work aims to reach audiences on a visceral level, provoking emotional responses through music and dance that crosses cultural and linguistic boundaries.
(Quoted from A'lante's website)
And A'lante's current show, Procession, does just that. Really good flamenco music and dance will always be a visceral experience, will always remind you that sad things can be beautiful, that a fierce look can be loving. But A'lante walks you and your emotions right up to the edge and moves you along, never stagnating. Procession is not just a series of short dances with costume changes in between, and a standing ovation at the end; it is a carefully curated experience that moves you from the outside to the inside, both figuratively and literally.
The show begins in the central plaza outside Austin's Mexican American Cultural Center where audience members know they are to gather, and know they will eventually be lead inside to the auditorium, but how? Quietly, a group of 7 striking women in long, blue velvet dresses begin to emerge in a "V" formation, making their way toward a wooden chair where flowers rest. The mood is somber, the dancer's movements are slow, controlled, and synchronized—sometimes they rest a hand on the shoulder of the dancer in front of them. A careful distance behind them, comes another formation, one made up of a New Orleans style brass band, playing a slow, mournful processional, La Madrugá by Abel Moreno Gómez. You do not have to be told what kind of procession this is supposed to be.
I could describe the entire show here, and it would be therapeutic for me: the way the dancers arms seem to move in slow motion while their feet strike the floor in double time; the interweaving of other cultures like a Lebanese song at the beginning, and a gospel song toward the end; and the dresses! Wild floral print, mile-long ruffles, shades of pink and red, feminine military jackets with flowing coat tails, colorful silk shawls and ornate peinetas to compliment the dancers' hair.
But to describe it all would be a spoiler for you. Everyone should see Procession, should experience how it feels to walk through the hallway that leads to the auditorium while harmonizing with strangers, and at the end be lead back outside by the brass band under different circumstances, feeling transformed. As my four-year-old daughter said to me during the last number, "It's like a party!"
If you have a little one in music class with Mi Casa Es Tu Casa®, this A'lante performance is a perfect display of why our classes employ movement, percussion, music, and song all together. On stage, all these elements are irretrievably linked. The Flamenco dancers, who embody classical turns, soft lines, who move gracefully in and out of solos and group formations, also break into percussive footwork and the rolling pulse of castanets. But most importantly, everything is done in complete harmony with the musicians and singers who are live on stage with them.
The A'lante show at the MACC here in Austin is both kid and connoisseur friendly. I went with my husband, my daughter, and her two grandmothers, and everyone loved it. Maybe that's another way that going out to see live music and dance is an extension of what we do in music class: it's not just about exposing kids to music early on, it's about experiencing it together!
Not to mention the language component (flamenco, of course, is from Spain)!
The show closes this weekend. Catch it February 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. Buy tickets here!
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa® is in no way associated or benefitting from this event whatsoever.