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Rocio Molina: Fallen from Heaven review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘dazzling energy’

Rocío Molina in Fallen from heaven at Sadler's Wells. Photo: Simone Fratini
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Flamenco maverick Rocio Molina deconstructs the norms of her form with an antic energy in Fallen From Heaven. As the title suggests, it’s a disruptive mix of sacred and profane, with portentous Christian imagery (a silent scene of foot washing, for example) giving way to way to pagan bacchanal – a frenzied finale sees Molina leap into the auditorium, jittering joyously in the aisles, snaffling and spitting out grapes with flowers tucked into her pants.

It’s upliftingly strange, with no regard shown for the sanctity of the Sadler’s Wells stalls carpets, and a far cry from the fiercely upright woman of flamenco tradition.

From the beginning Molina invokes versions of femininity, each one a performative identity that’s adopted and discarded as easily as a costume. Identities are danced and disappear. Appearing out of the darkness in a white dress with a frothing cascade of frills, like a virginal figure on a wedding cake, her remoteness soon slips away as she corkscrews to the floor.

She’s a supplicant, a frisky mermaid, an insouciant temptress, and – taking the dress off – Botticelli’s Venus. Spins on gender follow: we see a cocksure toreador throwing off virtuoso flurries of zapateado footwork, only to be upended like a beetle. A studded thong and a crisp packet attached to the crotch provide enjoyable piss-takes of banal machismo.

Sometimes the pace drifts and sags, with occasional licks of electric guitar adding a jarring touch of cheese rather than reinvigorating the aesthetic, but Molina carries it – a performer of extraordinary magnetism and musicality.

Israel Galván: La Fiesta review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘magnificent surrealist flamenco’

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Verdict
Experimental flamenco star Rocio Molina explores gender with dazzling energy
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