Locally, flamenco has a long-standing history, and Juan Siddi Flamenco does that legacy justice. This summer, the ensemble has been wowing Santa Fe audiences with its guttural vocalists, deft musicians and, of course, the dancers with their billowing costumes, arched backs and furious footwork.
But beyond the virtuosity, there is a deeper level of dance at work here. When most people think of a dance, they expect physical movement in coordination with music, which artistic director Juan Siddi Aivar delivers. Then there is a less literal, more subtle meaning of the term. In this second meaning, dance is a word one might use to describe something that, once started, runs like clockwork. A beehive, for example; behind the buzzing chaos is a preordained order. It is something so delicately choreographed in its roles and rules, in its postulation and play, and in its build-up and release as to be called a dance by its very nature.
This is what Siddi and his flamenco company have accomplished in their summer program. There is the physical bravado, but there is something intrinsic to its structure as well. This is what makes it so satisfying: Audiences get the fabulous footwork and skilled port de bras, but they also get a sense of predetermination, even fate.
Siddi comes from Frankfurt, Germany, where he was raised by an Italian mother and Spanish father. He grew up studying flamenco and at age 18 was dancing and choreographing for Compañía Flamenca Alhama and Noches de Amor. He performed at the prestigious Bienal de Flamenco in Seville before becoming the principal male dancer with Rafael Cortés for five years.
In 2002, at the invitation of New Mexico's flamenco godmother, Maria Benitez, Siddi found his way to our enchanting soil, and in 2007, the artistic torch of leadership was passed to him. Since then, Siddi's company has toured nationally and internationally, and many a flamenco superstar has graced its program. In 2014, Juan Siddi Flamenco joined the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet umbrella, giving it the benefit of synergy and shared resources.
Siddi's summer season at the Lensic culminates on Sept. 5. The all-star cast features flamenco artists from near and far. In addition to Siddi, dancers include Stephanie Narvaez, Illeana Gomez, Eliza Llewellyn, Radha Garcia and Graciela Garcia. The musicians and vocalists are Jose "Chuscales" Valle Fajardo, Coral de los Reyes, Jose Cortes, Kina Mendez, Michael Kott, Alex Conde, Alejandro Pais Iriart and Alejandro Valle.
In many ways, Siddi's solo in the second half of the show is the catharsis of the evening. There's something incredibly satisfying about watching someone who is very good at what they do. An audience can exhale, knowing the performer will inevitably succeed at the set task. It's practically preordained. After a great deal of sauntering and posturing, Siddi delivers to his expectant audience what all are there to see: craftsmanship. In this case, you've come to watch Siddi's feet fly in stark juxtaposition to his erect torso and sharp positioning. The structure of the show builds itself up to this moment.
Perhaps you go to see dexterity in movement and music, but Siddi delivers more. He delivers that elusive second meaning of dance. His is a show that existed before him and will continue to exist as long as the form of flamenco continues to flourish. The deftness of a bee at work is a delight, but it is the inevitable clockwork of the hive that satisfies.
Juan Siddi Flamenco
8 pm Saturday, Sept. 5. $25-$72.
211 W San Francisco St.,