Friday, September 02, 2016

'The Last Bull: A Life in Flamenco'



I've not super appreciative of flamenco, and certainly not into Singapore-based 75-year-old maestro Antonio Vargas or his life story. (The maestro, together with his Singaporean wife Dr Daphne Huang, founded Flamenco Sin Fronteras.) But I'm intrigued by how Checkpoint Theatre and our artists would portray it, and that this dance-play is written by Huzir Sulaiman and directed by Claire Wong. So the friends didn't have to drag me too hard into SIFA's commission 'The Last Bull: A Life in Flamenco'.

In an interview with The Straits Times before the show, playwright Huzir Sulaiman shared that he wanted to focus on the dance and the passion over the maestro's personal life. Vargas himself also said,

A key thread of The Last Bull is his search for "stability and romantic fulfillment". He says he did not mind sharing his feelings and experiences for the play. "I've never been bothered by truth. It's the basis of my own life." 
He hopes some of his older children will be in the audience for The Last Bull. 
Huzir says: "We've chosen to be very delicate and respectful of his earlier marriages because they are real people and there are other sides to the story." ......... "We wanted to create something all his wives, lovers, children could come and see."

Eight performers and two Spanish musicians on guitar and vocals, and of course Antonio Vargas himself took audiences through his life in the 140-minute show. The performers in this show are more actors than dancers, of course. The pasodoble by Vargas and Seong Hui Xuan was beautiful. I grimaced when in the course of the show, in a thread of resonance, the actors also shared what flamenco meant to them. I must be one of the few in the audience who wasn't there to watch the maestro or the dance.

It was an enjoyable show. I didn't fall in love with flamenco after. Not into it means not into it lah. Of course I had an insight into Antonio Vargas' life and his choices to pursue flamenco and master the art, but I didn't particularly care about those either. I left the show with a deep respect and new appreciation of the playwright, director and artists. This is a show that could definitely travel across the cities, bringing it especially to people who enjoy the dance and appreciate Vargas' skills. 

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