By Alix Norman
Ask a foreigner what they know of Cyprus and one of the first things you’ll hear about is undoubtedly the weather. And it’s no surprise really, when we’re an island known as the sunniest in the Mediterranean, a haven of hot, halcyon days and the unremitting sizzle of summer sunshine. Now look out the window. Yes, it’s quite likely there’s very little cloud today, but it’s hardly bikini weather is it? In fact, if you’re anything like me, you might just be wrapped up in every fleece you own, huddled next to a radiator with your hands round a steaming mug of Earl Grey. January in Cyprus – it’s safe to say – can be bloody cold. Which is why the upcoming performance at the Rialto is a fairly unmissable event… if there’s anything guaranteed to add some heat to the start of a chilly New Year, it’s the fiery flamenco performances of Nino de los Reyes and the Sergio Martinez Flamenco Collective.
Full of passion and intensity, flamenco encapsulates the searing heat of a Spanish summer and the ardent fever of Andalusia in its mesmerising use of guitar, voice, dance and even rhythmic hand clapping. An art form that has grown from the Andalusian and Romani styles of music and dance, it was first recorded in the eighteenth century, and though the true origins of the word itself are lost in the mists of time, it’s been suggested that the word ‘flamenco’ stems either from the Spanish for ‘flame-coloured’ or the arrogant and flamboyant behaviour at the ‘Flemish’ court of Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire!
Whatever its beginnings, flamenco is now truly a global dance phenomenon, with more studios springing up in unexpected corners of the world – like Japan – than you can possibly shake a stick (or leg) at. And with the emphasis for both male and female exponents of the art on lightning-fast footwork performed with absolute precision, modern flamenco is a highly technical dance style requiring years of study. So the chance to watch Nino de los Reyes, one of the world’s foremost flamenco artists, heating up the stage at the Rialto Theatre really is an opportunity not to be missed.
Nino, himself a professional flamenco artist almost from the moment of his birth, hails from the de los Reyes dynasty, a family in whose blood the art of the dance runs like fire. Son of the famed exponent and teacher Ramon de los Reyes and the beautiful and dynamic Spanish dance artist, choreographer and teacher Clara Ramona, Nino grew up steeped in the world of flamenco.
“My first steps were inside my crib at my parents’ studio in the Piano Factory,” he recalls in a recent interview with The Boston Globe. “I remember doing steps at home that I saw in the studio at three or four, just because I was always looking. I would go to my parents’ classes, be in the background, and members of the company would show me steps.” Taking to the stage for the first time – in the Buenos Aires opera house – at only six years old, and touring the world as a flamenco prodigy from the age of 10, Nino’s talents were undeniable from his early childhood.
“I went to a very famous school in Spain and learned from different teachers,” he says, explaining that his fusion of flamenco puro and more contemporary styles has been influenced by such dance genres as tap, ballet, modern and jazz. “But I’m a purist, too,” he adds, “because what I dance comes from the inside. The first thing my generation has to do is respect the roots, the essence. But we’re born in another age and have seen the fusion, so we see flamenco as something new, help it to evolve.”
And it’s this evolution and fusion of flamenco styles that Nino and the Sergio Martinez Flamenco Collective of musicians, singers and dancers will be showcasing this coming Saturday in their tribute to the roots of the dance, entitled Flamenco sin más. It will be a performance, we’re promised, that will express centuries of tradition and feeling, with its hypnotically absorbing rhythms, melodies and movements. So, should you be planning to attend the hottest event of the month you can fully expect – in this coldest of months – the passion of flamenco to really raise your temperature!
Flamenco sin más
Performance by Nino de los Reyes and the Sergio Martinez Flamenco Collective at the Rialto Theatre, Saturday January 18 at 8.30pm. Contact 77777745 or visit www.rialto.com.cy. Tickets €15-€20