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London Duende

Posted on March 13, 2014

Given the interesting (but slightly overexposed) picture of Belén Maya and Manuel Liñán (pictured) mirroring each other while wearing bata de colas on the central pages of the Flamenco Festival brochure, I was disappointed that our photocall was two pieces with them dancing separately. I had looked forward to a collaboration: rumour has it that when they first met they didn’t hit it off – I thought a dance partnership informed by such initial sparks might have created a wonderful fire.

In principal, it should work well. Maya is known for the sensuality of her dance, while Liñán is recognised for the purity of his technique. Separately they didn’t disappoint. Their solos played with themes of gender and power while incorporating other styles that left the flamenco feeling no less authentic. They inspired Rowena Ritchie so much that she shared her enthusiasm along with a reminiscence from an Escuela de Baile Christmas Course around 12 years ago: “We were doing that course with Mario Maya and we turned around and Belén Maya was sitting there watching the class… eek!”

It’s a great memory to be shared, a lovely example of what the Flamenco Festival has come to mean to the UK’s many flamenco fans over the years. That it is London duende is clear, but I was disappointed that Maya and Liñán danced together only once. Maybe the structure of the photocall revealed a bigger truth.

Photograph: Carole Edrich

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Now acting editor of Discover Britain magazine, she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success.

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