Titanium (Rojas and Rodriguez) is branded as a unique mix of the street styles of flamenco and hip hop. It features three flamenco dancers, three hip hop dancers, and three break dancers. The music ranges from a live, four-strong flamenco band, to a more self-consciously ‘modern’ soundtrack of beats and cool, moody, urban synths (there’s no actual rapping though, unfortunately).
It’s a thrilling show which is greatly enjoyed by the audience (there’s a standing ovation at the end). The sheer relentless energy, skill and athleticism of the dancers is breath-taking – particularly when it comes to the gravity-defying, near sky-flying of the break dancers. Whether or not it met the intention of fusing the two cultures of flamenco and street dance was more questionable: sometimes I found the merging of the two forms a bit forced, with the separate dance styles speaking for themselves without the need for any emphasis of intrinsic links. It was as if the creators had to keep re-enforcing the one point: that the different dances came from similar social origins, made by the marginalised. And there is repetitiveness to some of the dance set-ups – the street battle motif being a bit too over-played. The cultures were talking at each other rather than listening and responding and creating something new, original and different.
There’s not really a narrative to the action, more a sense of marginalised outsiders seeking beauty and poetry, transcendence, amid a harsh world (highlighted by the ’Mad Max’/’The Lost Boys’ gear of the dancers). They are diamonds in the rough. There’s a little bit of ‘West Side Story’ to the gang rivalry (flamenco vs hip hop vs break dance) but no central love interest drama, instead a devotion to the form of expression, honing your technique, in a competitive, masculine environment. My main criticism would be that it didn’t go deeply enough into the various intricacies of each of these cultures but instead stayed fixed on their archetypes. It would have been a more nuanced show if we’d had a greater sense of the melancholy and mournfulness of flamenco (though the moments when the live band came on stage were richer highlights). There were little moments of this – a gesture, a solo dance, the voice of the singer – but mainly we were caught up in the frenetic action of the moves of the player.
However I was so impressed by the dancing itself that the hour and a half flew by, the charisma of the cast and their clear delight in what they were creating making it all worthwhile.