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Flamenco Festival London 2018: Women and Creation - Sadler's Wells

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE annual Flamenco Festival marks its 15th anniversary at Sadler’s Wells from Wednesday, February 14 to Sunday, February 25, 2018.

With performances from some of the world’s finest flamenco dancers and musicians, this year’s festival searches beyond the classical images of the flamenco dancer to rediscover forgotten spirits, reclaim women’s stories and unearth the true characters behind the dramatic façade.

A revered singer, two rising stars and a former principal dancer come together to present the Flamenco Festival’s opening show: Tempo of Light. Traditional flamenco singer Carmen Linares performs with Arcángel, Marina Heredia and former principal dancer of Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, Ana Morales, to portray the passion that underpins this time-honoured art form, from its gypsy roots through to its modern innovations.

María Pagés Compañía presents Yo Carmen from Thursday, February 15 to Saturday, February 17. In a revealing expression of feminine soul, Yo Carmen confronts the myths surrounding Prosper Mérimée’s infamous femme fatale in search of the true woman beneath. Delving into the feelings of real women, Pagés and 14 flamenco artists serve as the voice of all women.

On Sunday, February 18, dramatist Pedro G. Romero and flamenco dancers Ursula López, Tamara López and Leonor Leal present Painter and Flamenco: J.R.T. Drawing inspiration from the Symbolist artist Julio Romero de Torres, this hypnotizing performance aims to break clichés and disarm the representations of the archetypal ‘Spanish Woman’ that famously feature in his work.

Considered a genius of his generation, Israel Galván returns to Sadler’s Wells on Tuesday, February 20 in collaboration with Isabel Bayón Compañía. In Dju-Dju, classical dancer Isabel Bayón reinvents herself, exploring the demons and superstitions of the flamenco world, alongside dancers Alicia Márquez and Nieves Casablanca, directed by Galván.

Legendary flamenco artist La Chana makes a rare appearance at this year’s Gala Flamenca, running from Wednesday, February 21 to Friday, February 23. Her amazing story is testament to the strength and passion of this art form, providing hope and encouragement to young women globally. Four champions of flamenco puro, Ángel Rojas, Antonio Canales, El Farru, Gema Moneo, come together to celebrate her inspiring story of survival and empowerment.

La Chana will also be celebrated with a screening of the acclaimed 2016 documentary film La Chana, which looks at her life and career, in the Lilian Baylis Studio on Saturday, February 24.

For the penultimate show on Saturday, February 24, Jesús Carmona and his dance company pioneer a flamenco evolution. With flawless footwork and ballet-infused moves, Ímpetus is an irresistible interpretation of famous scores from some of Spain’s most beloved composers.

Closing this year’s festival, on Sunday, February 25, Compañía Rafaela Carrasco presents Born a Shadow. Inspired by the hidden voices of Teresa de Jesus, María de Zayas, María Calderón and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the show weaves flamenco rhythms and spoken word to break their silence and uncover the secrets of the Spanish Golden Age.

Women’s stories and artistry are also at the fore of an accompanying programme of performances in the Lilian Baylis Studio beginning on February 23 with Ana Morales with Guillermo Weickert who will present the results of a ten-day residency entitled Sharing of Songs for the Silence. Later that evening in Entre Primas, musicians Antonia Jiménez, Alicia Morales and Nasrine Rahmani will perform original compositions celebrating the achievements of female flamenco artists.

Forgotten women poets of the 1920s are rediscovered by soulful vocalist Angelita Montoya in Versos Olvidados on February 24. Finally, Alba Molina (daughter of popular 1970s flamenco artists Lole y Manuel) will perform in concert with producer, composer and guitarist Rycardo Moreno (February 24) blending flamenco with hip hop, Brazilian and pop rock styles.

For more information and to book tickets, call 020 7863 8000 or visit