Flamenco steps and Tabla beats to Spanish tunes  
- Sumi Krishnan, Sydney  
e-mail: sumischoices@gmail.com 

October 10, 2008 
Presented by Flamenco Red is a collaboration of varying styles and cultures. The first half of the program is the story of Queen Isabel of Spain. History shows that in 1492 Granada was conquered, the Jews were expulsed and Columbus funded for a second voyage to the Indies. Ruled by Isabel, a decade before and known for formalizing the Spanish Inquisition creating a counsel solely for killing non-Catholics, mainly Jews, Queen Isabel 'La Catholica' ironically was known for her prudence, gentleness and particular empathy for American Indians demanding they be given equal rights in the new colonies. She encouraged education for women in Universities and was the first woman on a US coin and stamp. Isabel the dance is about the inner workings of the mind of a world leader who so precisely set in motion events that altered history, cultures and regions. She was the catalyst for Flamenco in the name of righteousness and peace. 
The dance unfolds as Annalouise Paul enters into a dark red stage to the rhythms of the Tabla played by none other than Bobby Singh, the favourite tabla player of Sydney. In a perfect execution of uniting force, the Spanish guitar played by Robbie Varga, accompanies the story telling of  Annalouise Paul who portrays the emotions of a Queen torn between ruling, and the conscience and voice of her mind, shown by the stringed music, and that of her heart weaved through the rhythms of the tabla. A combustive contemplative and intense piece showing immense concentration, heat and energy emanating between the artists with the effective use of lights on stage, made for a breathless performance leaving the audience reflective and in awe. 
Annalouise Paul is a pioneering dancer with a commitment to teaching delivering pilot programs for students and teachers of the DET, Australia Council, Arts NSW, Western Sydney Dance Action, and Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. She is also the recipient of Critical Path, Margaret Farm Residency, Arts NSW and Australia Council each time working with Bobby Singh. Bobby is Australia's well known tabla player, student of Pandit Nikhil Ghosh and Aneesh Pradhan. Bobby Singh has received numerous awards and performed with musicians all over the world and in many festivals. Robbie Varga is a master of contemporary flamenco guitar, and has performed with well known choreographers in his 30 year career span. 
The second half of the program was made up of an interesting mix of styles called Are You Game? The artists, Bobby Singh on Tabla, dancers Miranda Wheen and Melisa Gowen, and World and Junk Percussion Electronics, Peter Kennard launch on a challenging journey of displaying their individual styles initially showing their own prowess and technique with arrogance until all communication between the artists falls apart and realization dawns that a conversation starts with listening actively to one another and considering and perhaps imitating each act initially from a "place nowhere" to finding commonalities. A humourous and energetic journey that finishes in hearty comraderie between the artists and the audience. 

Melisa Gowen, flexible and innovative, is the founding member of Dirty Feet in Sydney. She has danced in New York and Amsterdam; Miranda Wheen is a recipient of the Deanís medal who has choreographed many cross cultural dances as a part of her regular work. Peter Kennard is a composer, producer and musical director with a career span of 20 years who has worked with many well known musicians in Sydney. He showed his prowess with bringing kitchen utensils to life during this part of the performance with uncanny feather like touches on the Cymbal. Bobby Singh once again, showed his rhythmic creations in this section of the dance for the evening with unfailing insight into the choreography through his spontaneous compositions.  

Sumi Krishnan is a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com