The QT

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Review: Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company, Northern Stage

Emma Wass gets bowled over by an evening of flamenco in Newcastle
Daniel Martinex Flamenco performed at Northern Stage

The first time I saw “proper” flamenco – not a tacky show put on for Brits in a hotel – was in Seville back when I was a student. I fell in love and have sought out this beautiful art form – which combines singing, dance, guitar and clapping – ever since, even joining a flamenco dance class myself right here in Newcastle. 

But Andalucia by the Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company was unlike any other flamenco I had seen – largely because of the accompaniment of a chamber orchestra – a violin, cello, double bass and even a euphonium – as well as the traditional cajón (box-shaped drum).

When I read previews of the show I was intrigued as to how this would work, but if anything, it added more depth and grandeur to the performance. This may also help bring flamenco to a new audience. 

At first, I was worried that this very polished performance may be missing out on the grit and rawness of productions I have seen in Spain.  But it was simply outstanding.

Andalucia takes the audience on a journey through the southern Spanish region. The production is made up of eight parts, each introducing an Andalucian city – from Granada, Huelva, Malaga and Almeria, to Jaen, Sevilla, Cordoba and finally Cadiz – and each section representing a style of flamenco synonymous with that area.

There are more than 50 ‘palos’ of flamenco – which are defined by their patterns of rhythm (compás) and their mood, for example ‘alegrías’, which means happiness. This was the ‘palo’ representing the sunny city of Cádiz and in fact was my favourite part of the show. Daniel said he chose the ‘alegrías’ as gaditanos are known for their happy-go-lucky attitude to life. 

The show was completely joyous – emotive and passionate, and the strong relationship between all the performers shone through. At first, I was worried that this very polished performance may be missing out on the grit and rawness of productions I have seen in Spain.  But it was simply outstanding, and in particular I loved seeing the relationship between dancer Gabriela Pouso and singer Inma Montero, who also choreographed the show.

The company received two standing ovations from the Northern Stage matinee audience, before another sell-out show that evening. 

Despite the quick turnaround the company stayed at the end to greet the audience, sell CDs and take photos. I was surprised to learn that the company are largely based in Edinburgh.

Guitarist Daniel Martinez – who also composed the whole show, including the orchestra parts – moved to the Scottish city in 2015 and founded the company two years later. Originally from Córdoba, he has been playing flamenco guitar since he was seven years old and trained at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Music in his home city. 

It is very much a family affair with his brother Oscar Martinez on the euphonium and Daniel’s wife Gabriela Pouso dancing solo. Her performance was mesmerizing – strong, powerful but also vulnerable – and I was in tears by the end. 

The Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company are still on their UK tour and will be performing in York at the Central Hall on June 14. I am seriously considering the trip down and will be keeping a look out for their next production.  

If you are interested in learning flamenco dancing yourself there is a growing scene in Newcastle – you can search for Newcastle on Facebook or visit the Dance City website. 

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