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Malaje - The Flamenco Circus
Published on Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hearing the opening notes of the flamenco cante or song instantaneously relaxes me into the world of Malaje – The Flamenco Circus. Blending flamenco and clowning, theatricality and musicality, this show has wide appeal.

Dressed in black, with red highlighting her scarf, skirt and shoes, the dancer is thrown into relief against the red background as she beats out a rhythm with such speed it’s like an earthquake vibrating through her body. Her hands are expressive; like the petals of a flower that open and close. She is not alone in her dancing; everyone’s a dancer in Malaje, everyone joins in, to much shared humour and delight.

A strong musicality underpins the whole show. Moments are punctuated physically by sharp head turns, but even more impressive is the clapping between the two clown characters, and the reversed juggling against the floor to the complex flamenco beats.

From the beautiful strains of the guitar - the notes bouncing like raindrops on the water - to the puff of dust from the acrobat/gymnast as he begins his act, there is a sense of magic in Malaje. The gymnast, or “bendy boy” as Sarah from my flamenco class called him, is impressive indeed. Moving in a set barely big enough to contain him, he lifts himself up to a handstand position and then balances at a 45 degree angle, his muscles a rippling landscape on his torso. Contrasting this strength, he then moves like a Chinese warrior to entertain further with break dancing and acrobatics. There is more magic from the other performers with some deft juggling and balancing.

The relationships developed between all the performers lend a lovely humour to Malaje and the female clown expresses her emotions loudly and amusingly. She could be utilised more and the show tightened a little but, as it is, it’s an enjoyable one that will please families, flamenco and circus fans.

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