Ida Y Vuelta At España On Fire

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

“Who is that?” was the most repeated admiring whisper from tonight’s audience at Espana On Fire. Someone else told a friend that Lourdes Fernández Menayo outshone Álvaro Guarnido Muñoz at the Pena. That surprised me a little because when I saw him at Ronnies some time ago he was really quite good.

During the three and a half years that Lourdes Fernández Menayo has been in the UK, her stage presence has grown and her dancing matured from good to inspiring. She made me want to dance flamenco again for the first time in around eight years.

I last saw her dance in 2013 when we were part of the One Billion Rising London flashmob which Lourdes co-choreographed. It was the first flashmob to be held in the London Assembly. Her solo performance there was another first and we’ve kept in touch on facebook since.

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

Neither seeing her then nor facebook contact prepared me for the audio visual feast of the evening. The company played a blend of flamenco puro, flamenco jazz and a fascinating tango that started as Argentine tango before seguing into a flamenco tango (for those who don’t know, they’re very different things). Enhanced by the power of her stage presence, her every move conveyed emotion. Whether slow and measured or a staccato storm her precise zapateo produced percussive rhythms as integral to the music as the contributions from the musicians.

Unusually for flamenco, I enjoyed the music as much as the dancing although devotees of flamenco puro might not feel the same. Italians Vincenzo Fratelli on harmonica and Gianni Boscarino on piano, guest cantaor Javier Moreno, guitarist Andrés Garcia and Demi Garcia Sabat’s cajón and percussion combined to create both contemporary and more traditional flamenco sounds, with every number so good I can’t single one out as best.

If you have the chance to see Lourdes in Ida Y Vuelta or her other group Alma Gitana, go.

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

Lourdes Fernandes Menayo at Espana On Fire, Ronnie Scotts London 2015

España On Fire shows live flamenco upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s on the first Sunday of every month.