Review: Sara Baras @ Zorlu Center

Although it was not specifically advertised in the promotion, Sara Baras came to Istanbul to present her show Voces (Voices). The artist from Cadiz directs, choreographs and stars in this deep and personal homage to the flamenco dancers and musicians who’ve most influenced her.

The show started half an hour late, following excited crowd clapping, thirsty to witness the dancer officiate a ceremony full of art and passion. In this show, unlike her previous ones — such as Carmen or Juana La Loca — she doesn’t play a role but instead bares her soul on the stage. She and her own flamenco company dance and perform following the words of some of the great flamenco masters. Voice recordings of Paco De Lucía, Camarón, Antonio Gades, Enrique Morente and Moraíto introduce each section of the show where Baras and her gang pay tribute to these flamenco legends.

Baras has also managed to convey her own style and passion to her company and they absolutely understand each other on stage. With her husband José Serrano, also a dancer and choreographer, they started the show paying tribute to Paco de Lucía with a powerful seguiriya. This ceremonious, slow and solemn flamenco style is one of the backbones of this musical form.

Each of the honorees is present on the stage, lined up along the backdrop painted in white on big black canvases. The minimalist background also reminds of her participation in the excellent movie Iberia by Carlos Saura. But these revered celebrities are not mere portraits. Their voices are also heard through a selection of statements in Spanish about flamenco. Their words are a lesson of humility and wisdom about what it means to be an artist, the suffering, the happiness and the hard work required to become a legend. These monologues link a series of acts performed with different styles: bulerías, farrucas and tientos among many others. Baras is the absolute star of the show, but she is gracious enough to let her company alone for some bits. The music of Keko Baldomero and the magnificent goosebump-inducing singer Israel Fernández were also outstanding.

Baras (45) is now a mature artist with a tremendous magnetism on stage. When she is concentrated on an intense but milimetrically controlled zapateado — the iconic flamenco feet stomping — Baras enters a trance, pulling in the entire audience. She is a superb dancer and surely knows how to put on a show and connect with viewers. Her out of this world one heel jack hammering is absolutely jaw-dropping.

The show has a traditional format with minimum plot and stage design, so the risk is higher because the dancer is very exposed on the stage. But if it’s any indication, the final standing ovation was a clear sign that Baras left Istanbul with a victory.

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Santi is an architect passionate about travelling and writing about the hidden corners and the ordinary beauty of cities. He left his home in Barcelona and moved to Istanbul following the blend of architecture and energy, new challenges for his insatiable curiosity and love. He now thoroughly enjoys writing for Time Out Istanbul and Yabangee.

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