Isabel Bayon: Dju-Dju review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘avant-garde flamenco’

Isabel Bayon's Dju Dju at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Alejandro Espadero Isabel Bayon's Dju Dju at Sadler's Wells, London. Photo: Alejandro Espadero
by -

Black cats, yellow hats and salt – the superstitions that swirl around flamenco culture form the core of Isabel Bayon’s enjoyably bizarre Dju-Dju.

It’s choreographed and directed by Israel Galvan, a virtuoso performer who delights in exploring the possibilities of the form – his show at last year’s flamenco festival, FLA.CO.MEN, was a tour de force of invention and obscurity that involved corsetry, showers of paper balls and jaw-dropping footwork.

Dju-Dju generates the same mixture of confusion and allusive creativity. Much of it is done with playful humour, irreverence and self-conscious strangeness.

Guitarist Jesus Torres appears in the stalls sporting a Christ-like robe and glossy coif, proffering beatific smiles and hugs to audience members. A trio of upside-down cherubs descend from above and a mini Christmas tree on wheels twitches and whirs while a keyboardist in a white dressing gown plays carols, adding a Lynchian touch that turns unmistakably Andalusian when singer David Lagos arrives.

Bayon enters the fray in total darkness, clutching a broomstick and clattering through the auditorium dressed in a scarlet skirt, Japanese geta sandals and a massive black wig. When she dispenses the witchy accoutrements and begins to dance, there’s a sense of palpable excitement – the fierce intensity of her footwork and the rococo stylings of her wrists and fingers speak of myriad mysteries and ancient rituals.

But the tone soon changes – there’s madcap business involving tiny chairs and crystal balls. Sometimes the fitful structure sags frustratingly, but a capering goat dance proves a final, furry delight.

Offbeat and amusing avant-garde flamenco show exploring superstition, part of the Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival