There are plenty of husband-and-wife teams in the exhilarating world of flamenco. Most of them are dancer-guitarist tandems. Bailaor and bailaora couples are rare, especially at the very top of the art form.
That's one reason why Angel Munoz and Charo Espina are special. Another reason is their extraordinary artistry -- abundantly demonstrated as they made their triumphant return to Sadler's Wells last week with the Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company.
Paco Pena played beautiful guitar, as effortlessly as he always does, and there was fine music and dancing for most of the night (as well as some a capella soul singing by an American vocalist that was a little jarring for my taste). But my two peak moments were the solos by Charo and Angel. And the audience seemed to agree.
Let's start with Charo first. As my (flamenco) friend Yumi Whyte points out, Charo does moves nobody else can do. She has one of the most pliable bodies I have ever seen in a dancer. Her back bends are superhuman, and her slender arms have incredible elasticity. At Sadler's Wells, she performed an alegria that fit her like a glove. Dressed in a charcoal-and-mustard outfit (pictured on the poster above), she was grace itself. She ended the dance in a piece of thunderous footwork, performed with the same lightness and grace. Here she is at curtain call:
Then came Angel's solo: a solea that quickly accelerated into a buleria and that showed why he's one of the top male dancers in flamenco -- dexterity, an incredible sense of rhythm, a suave and gentle style, and a signature flick of the shoulder. He made his exhausting finale look like a walk in the park. Here he is at curtain call, cheering the audience, and applauding the rest of the cast.
I look forward to seeing flamenco's golden couple back on the London stage soon.