altFlamenco guitarist Paco Peña unites Spanish and African music and dance in Quimeras, a celebration of immigration and shared cultures. A group of Ghanaians moving to Spain suffer exclusion and persecution on arrival, but cling to their national dances for identity. Initially each nationality performs independently, but the show gradually blends the two until everyone dances together to the rhythm of African drums and Spanish guitar.

The show begins with Paco Peña under a narrow spotlight playing solo. The man who introduced Britain to Flamenco in the 60’s hasn’t slowed down in the slightest, and drives some brilliant sequences in the show. Other guitarists, drummers, singers and dancers are casually introduced or removed from the music in an informal square, representing a Córdoban courtyard. Both cultures bring some of their bright traditional dress to the dances. Towards the end, when they embrace each other’s musical styles and dance techniques, the show reaches a wonderful climax, but it takes a long time to get there.

Although the African sections have some excellent rhythms, and a solo on a Cajon (sit-on drum) is brilliant, the lack of tunefulness is all the more apparent after complex flamenco melodies from a trio of Spanish guitars. With the only notes coming from one bell of an agogô, Peña fans attending purely for flamenco music may find the chiming rather monotonous. But Quimeras makes its point: everybody wins in a cultural trade, and on the way to the African-Spanish union there is some great music and dancing, leading to a finale that everybody on stage and in the audience enjoys.


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