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BWW Review: Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca's ANTIGONA Returns to New York City

Martin Santangelo. Artistic Director and Producer, presents Antigona, featuring Soledad Barrio, who is not only principal dancer but choreographer and costume designer, at the West Park Presbetarian Church, at west 86th St. and Amsterdam. This church has opened its house to some theater pieces, proclaiming, "Noche's Antigona is a perfect example of how we like our house to be a place where dreams can come true." The high church ceiling lent itself to creating an enormous sound, with the participation of both musicians and Flamenco dancers.

The music of Eugenio Iglesias, Salva de Maria and Martin Santangelo, who adapted and directed the work, is integral to the story and the enjoyment. The original text, of course, is by Sophocles. There were English subtitles on a screen above the stage. Isabel Bayon did additional choreography. Mask design based on the work of Mary Frank made an effective mark at the junctures when masks were used. The lighting was impressive, although simple. It was well thought out, matching the subject matter at hand and the church structure, adding an interesting element. No lighting designer was listed.

Antigona is a magnificent theater piece, a dramatic dance work, and marvelous musical experience, all in one. It was riveting, making the viewer hungry throughout the 90-minute performance without intermission, to see and hear what comes next. No aspect of Antigona was less than superb.

The dancers were strong, sure, and fierce, led by the epitome of strong, sure, and fierce Barrio. Not only were her legs a demonstration of this, but her arms were beautifully expressive, as was her face. The passion and 100% commitment of every performer ignited the show and engaged brilliant technique. Flamenco is merely the vehicle. Eteocles, one of Antigona's brothers, played by Robert Wilson, danced primarily the krump style of hip hop, a form which is mainly a street dance, about battle, which was perfect for this role in this story and was a good fit with the flamenco. When groups of dancers performed together the unison was precise, like musical instruments.

Within this serious tale, Antigone by Sophocles, first produced around 442BCE, some levity was interjected. Ismene, sister of Antigona, well played by Marina Elana, speaks directly to the audience, at one point, using a current way of speaking, opening with, "...I'm bilingual...", which made the audience laugh, breaking tension built into the story. Then she melted back into the mix of characters. The scenes changed, carrying the audience with them the fervor that was being projected.

The final subtitle read, "There is no happiness where there is no wisdom." Fade to black.

I was left with a desire to see Antigona again.

Antigona will continue to play through January 23, 2016.

Photo Credit: Zarmik Moqtaderi

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