By Sarah Kuras
Last Wednesday’s performance (Oct. 26)  at  Binghamton University’s Anderson Center was certainly one to remember. The Compania Flamenca Jose Porcel dazzled the audience with a program of traditional and improvisational Spanish dances.
The musical ensemble featured two flamenco guitarists, a flautist, singers, and a cajon (box drum). The live musicians added to the dances’ improvisational elements because the musicians and dancers were able to interact. The music itself is lively and very intricate, with many parts weaving together to create a unique sound. I was particularly impressed with the cajon player, who performed with skill to create an unobtrusive but perfect beat for the dancers. The singers called out to the audience from another world, and the guitarists wove together their strings, and all clapped and stomped. Each dancer was incredibly talented in his or her own right, and they were individually showcased through different pieces.
All the  dances were in different styles, demonstrating the many influences on the flamenco dance. Numbers consist of the dance steps, the music with singing, and handclaps, called palmas. The choreography seemed to me to be a mix of tap, modern step dance and Spanish folk dance. Dancers gracefully moved their hands, stomped the floor and articulated their bodies in fantastic ways.
The stark set helped illuminate the performers’ talent, with the only accompaniments being their outfits and colorful lighting. I only wish the performers had interacted more with the audience, helping us to understand the roots and meaning of the dances.
The company’s founder, Jose Porcel, stunned everyone with his incredible solo dances. His penultimate number was part composition, part improvisation and fully soulful. Getting up-close and personal, he created a sense of his own practice studio by baring his all to the audience with an intricate step routine. He and the company truly channeled the fire spirit of flamenco dance.
This was just one of the many incredible performances this season at the Anderson Center showcasing performing arts from all over the world. This month, the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China will be performing; for a complete schedule, click here. Tickets can be ordered online or by calling the box office at (607) 777-ARTS.