The Gypsy Flame
Reviewed – 11th February 2020
“The wedding scene and the finale are triumphs of skirt swirling stamping zest”
Yagori Gypsy Dance Company’s story of the history of the gypsy people is definitely a show of two parts. Part wonderful and part in need of a rethink. The dancing, after a rather slow start, is full of passion and power alongside an astonishingly good violinist. But the scenes are punctuated by a voiceover and a backdrop of changing pictures, designed to show the gypsy journey. It is all rather worthy and teachy and underscored by ear-bleedingly loud music. It feels like a lesson and breaks up the drama of the music and dance, making the overall feel bitty and dislocated. It’s a real shame, because the performances are largely superb. Saeeda Kasym fizzles with energy and life, an incarnation of the gypsy spirit she so badly wants to portray, and her other principal dancers fill the stage with energy and joy. The wedding scene and the finale are triumphs of skirt swirling stamping zest. And Kasym’s solo is strong, tender and full of defiant pride.
The dance style is full of elements of flamenco, with hints of Russian traditional dance, two styles that the show tells us developed because of the travels of the Roma. But it has its own identity, not often seen here. It is truly fascinating.
Boris Merlich’s marvellous fiddle playing is, sadly, kept separate from the rest of the action; he only shares the stage with the backdrop pictures. I would have loved to hear him play with the dancers on stage, dancing. It seemed strange to keep them apart. There was a scene showing the persecution of the gypsy people which could have done without the cartoon Nazi. But, despite its flaws, The Gypsy Flame has a vibrant and captivating life. What it really needs is an experienced director to pull it all together. There is so much that is very, very good, and it’s worth seeing for those parts. I hope the company continues to develop, and finds another way of telling this story, because it’s a story that needs to be heard.
Reviewed by Katre