If you are looking for castanets, polka dots, and ruffles, and Hollywood-style dance moves, look elsewhere. You will not find a single castanet in 'Kumpanía: Flamenco Los Angeles', and if you see ruffles or polka dots they are quite the rare exception. What the extraordinarily talented and dedicated performers (singers, guitarists, and dancers) in this film are practicing and carefully upholding is 'flamenco puro' -- the style of flamenco that most closely reflects its origins among the oppressed Gypsies in southern Spain in the 1700s. Flamenco at its core is an expression of deepest emotional truth -- whether that is pain, isolation, loss, or celebration, or all of those. Done well and authentically (rare in the U.S.), it's absolutely mesmerizing.
The filmmakers do a wonderful job of storytelling here, moving from 18th-century Spain to modern Los Angeles, modern Madrid and Saville, and even Japan -- deftly intertwining stories and performances; opinions and emotions and history and deep life changes; singing and dance and guitar. There's just the right mix of live performance footage, heartfelt interviews, and informative historical information. For instance one of the main singers of the film, the great Antonio de Jerez, insists that unlike flamenco dancers and guitarists, a flamenco singer must be born in Spain, because the precise soulful accent required cannot be learned.
All in all, this is a great arts and performance documentary. While in fact flamenco is an inextricable combination of singing, guitar, and dance, I have to comment that this is one of the very best dance documentaries I have ever seen, capturing the soul and spirit not only of dance and dancers, but in this case the musicians involved as well. Very well and artistically and informatively done. I've watched the film four times -- it is that enthralling!
Performances (singing, dance, guitar): all intricate, all heartfelt, all exceptional, all deliciously absorbing and often goosebump-inducing. While these dozen or so performers currently based in Los Angeles may not be familiar to a wide U.S. audience -- with the possible exception of the sexy Timo Nunez who has been a guest performer on "So You Think You Can Dance" and in other television and film -- by the end of 'Kumpanía' you will feel like you know them intimately. That is certainly the mark of a very well done documentary.
By the way, the film is viewable on Hulu, Amazon Instant, Amazon Prime Instant, YouTube, and Rhovit.