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TOKYO

Antonio Najarro offers flamenco with a twist of ballet

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

One of Spain’s most prestigious dance troupes will perform in Japan for the first time in six years.

Since its foundation in 1987, the National Ballet of Spain has seen many of its flamenco dancers rise to global prominence, including Joaquín Cortés and Antonio Canales. The troupe opened a new chapter in its history last year by welcoming Antonio Najarro as its new artistic director. As the respected choreographer of award-winning Swiss figure skater Stephane Lambiel and others, Najarro, 37, has earned a reputation of being a “young genius.”

The Najarro-directed dance company will present two programs over the weekend in Tokyo. Though flamenco-oriented, both programs tackle the genre in more depth and aim to display traditional aesthetics of Spanish dancing. One, titled “Grito,” is based on common flamenco rhythms such as the lugubrious “Solea” and lively “Alegrias,” but at the same time provides the audience with an opportunity to witness the troupe’s exquisitely coordinated teamwork. “Sevilla Suite,” on the other hand, is based on a song by guitarist Rafael Riqueni, and choreographed by Najarro. Intended to entertain everyone, the program simply appeals to people’s gut, requiring no complicated prior knowledge. Though the song itself is categorized as flamenco, the program is choreographed with the essence of ballet, to better foreground the nitty-gritty of Spanish dancing. Powerful and gorgeous, its finale bustles with enthusiasm that recalls Seville’s festivity and bullfights.

“Grito” and “Sevilla Suite” take place at Bunkamura’s Orchard Hall in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, from Feb. 1—7. Start times vary. Tickets cost between ¥6,000 and ¥12,600. For more information, call 03-3234-9999 or visit www.bunkamura.co.jp.