When Jazz Meets Flamenco – world premiere. Lilian Baylis Theatre, 183 Roseberry Avenue, London EC1. 4****. William Russell

There is no getting away from it – Karen Ruimy is a force of nature, a singer of songs and flamenco dancer with boundless reserves of energy. Her new show given its world premiere at the Lilian Baylis is based on what she calls a fusion of jazz singing with flamenco dancing and singing. It works pretty well most of the time and when it does it is thrilling and breathtaking. The band is maybe a little loud as some of her earlier ballads tend to be overwhelmed but this only on its second performance when I saw it and the sound system may have been the problem. It cleared up during the evening. Nothing could quell the voices of the men who sang to the flamencos danced by Ruimy and Paco Hidalgo Calero who in his solo threatened to steal her thunder – her heel taps were dazzling his downright astonishing. To accompany the show she has issued a CD called Black Chocolate with the songs from the show. Her entrance is in a costume consisting almost entirely of sequins and crystals which, strategically placed, sparkle in the lights. There is a sumptuous cluster of white feathers at one shoulder. It sets the tone for the evening. The lady is not for ignoring. She then changes into a series of gorgeous gowns and while she is off changing presumably catching her breath her supporting dancers – un-named duo as there is no programme do some amazing homoerotic moves – and Calero gets to strut their stuff. The lady has played all over the world and this latest show with terrific backing musicians should take her wherever the times allow. Maybe it does not quite succeed in making the case for popular song fusing with flamenco but she and her co-stars are at the top of their game.
Karen Ruimy
Paco Hidalgo Calero
Lyndon Lloyd.

Musical direction: Youth.
Director & choreographer: Lyndon Lloyd.
Musical direction: Youth.
Photograph: Ryan Howard.

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