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OneTwoThreeOneTwo review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘tame deconstruction of flamenco’

Albert Quesada and Zoltan Vakulya in OneTwoThreeOneTwo. Photo: Benjamin Sommabere
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This is not a flamenco piece. On that point, Albert Quesada and Zoltan Vakulya are very clear. But flamenco is present in the work as an undercurrent, and every now and again, it pushes its way to the surface. You can see it in the way the performers shape their upper bodies, you can glimpse it in their teasing hints of bravado.

Using music and rhythm that is distinctly flamenco, Quesada and Vakulya appear to sense their way through an embodied memory of the art form. It is not so much through the steps they use as the stylised quirks, the patterns, and the intention of flamenco.

At times, their actions are simple, their movement studied and considered; at others they perform with abandon offering a playful and sometimes bizarre take on their subject. At one point, Quesada slaps out the one-two-three-one-two rhythm on Vakulya’s naked torso. His groans in response create an an oddly comic parody of the sung rhythms of flamenco.

OneTwoThreeOneTwo is an intriguing work. This is particularly true of the subtlety with which Quesada and Vakulya explore their subject. There’s a beautiful moment in which Vakulya’s body shimmers and jerks to the fluttering sounds of a Spanish guitar.

It never quite finds its edge, though, and in spite of the audience’s proximity to the duo, the work feels overly introspective and a little tame. Quesada and Vakulya have internalised an art form which then plays out through their bodies – what’s missing is the fiery passion that makes flamenco so compelling.

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Albert Quesada and Zoltan Vakulya's intriguing, if overly introspective, deconstruction of flamenco