In Sabores, which translates as flavours, Sara Baras, her company of 10 dancers and two guest artists aim to give the audience a taster of the different styles and steps in flamenco, the Southern Spanish dance steeped in tradition and fuelled by the passion of those who dance it.
The evening begins with the dancers, dressed in tuxedo-style costumes, gathering informally on stage. As though backstage before a performance, they meander about, gently warm up in small groups and greet each other with a pat on the back or kisses on the cheek. This relaxed prologue to the performance ahead gives an appropriate flavour of the sense of community and family that threads through the gypsy origins of flamenco.
When the performance begins in earnest, however, this relaxed, casual vibe is replaced with concentration and finely-honed skill as Baras and her company showcase the strong lines, sharp footwork and furious pace that flamenco demands, in a show made up of individual and group dances.
Dancing together, the company is impressively in time, as their feet stamp a relentless rhythm to the music of the live band which accompanies them. Performing on her own in several of the dances, Baras demonstrates the intricacy of flamenco footwork while at the same time making it seem effortless, at one point moving across the stage in a flamenco-style moonwalk. Meanwhile, her seemingly double-jointed wrists fluidly twist into the traditional poses that go hand in hand with flamenco footwork, and her use of the swirling skirts she wears seems a skill in itself.
Guest artists Jose Serrano and Luis Ortega accompany Baras in a piece entitled A Fuego Lennto, while each also demonstrates his individual skill in solo dances, conjuring modern-day matadors and making the distinction between female and male flamenco dance.
But it is Baras herself who dominates this show. Strong, stern, skilful, even a touch frightening – these are all words which could describe this 37-year-old from Cadiz who, with Sabores, gives an impassioned and heartfelt display of the dance of her homeland.