On June 24, 2012, Timo Lozano's Houston Spanish Dance Company made its debut at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center's Kaplan Theatre with the evening Spain in the Air Tonight. Lozano is a Spanish dance luminary, having performed with the Jose Greco Dance Company and been the first American to be awarded the title of Maestro from the Amor de Dios flamenco school. In the past year, his troupe has performed at world dance events throughout Houston, and is now ready to begin full-length productions.
Aside from Lozano, who can still command an audience with an alegrias, the standout performer was guest artist Carolyn Holguin. Holguin silently entered the stage dressed in black, like a possessed witch, and danced like a madwoman on the verge. This is what flamenco is, a dance of oppression and anger, of passion built inside and thrust outward. She did not dance to the cante, or singer, but reinterpreted the voice in physical form. Holguin's solea, or solo, was so affecting because it successfully captured the gypsy spirit that is the root of the flamenco tradition.
There's no denying the love and dedication Lozano has for the form; his life's work is clearly visible onstage. However, some of the student dancers were not stage-ready in the same way the senior artists were. At least half of the women in Solea were visibly unnerved, and some of the dancers seemed to be doing everything they could to avoid contact with the audience, and even more frustrating, with each other. Like all folk forms, flamenco is a community dance, and there must be some level of interaction between dancers for it to be convincing. All of these might be minor qualms; student dancers are students, after all, and everyone must begin somewhere. However, the fact remains that this was a ticketed event with a $35 fee at the door.
Houston Spanish Dance Company cannot be faulted for a lack of creativity. In an attempt to blend traditional Spanish dance with modern/contemporary influences, Lozano yielded interesting results. In Romance, a duet with Holguin, the couple moved in a style clearly taken from interpretive dance methods to a Spanish composition by Isaac Albeniz. It was a pleasure to see two mature dancers caress and serenade each other with a sense of urgency that hinted of a younger passion.
Judging from the audience's joyous response, Houston Spanish Dance Company won't have any problems filling a theater for future engagements. The company's strength lies in the experience of its founder and artistic director. If Lozano can continue to entice captivating guest artists to collaborate, and build a solid base of star pupils, Houston Spanish Dance Company will have no problem becoming the definitive hub for the city's flamenco community.