A Darker Shade of Fado

Thursday 01 May 2014
reading time: min, words
Portuguese dancer and singer Nuno Silva combined his two loves to create a passionate story on stage
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Nuno Silva and Matthew Lackford. photo: Chris Nash

Portuguese fado is dramatic and haunting with its melancholic sounds and themes - Nuno Silva has taken his love for his homeland’s traditional music as inspiration to create his first show, A Darker Shade of Fado.

Fusing contemporary dance and music with traditional fado, the Spirit (Nuno Silva) was the first figure to dance on to the stage. Emerging from the shadows that were dense with smoke, he moved eerily towards a Portuguese guitar set at the front of the stage. The guitar’s owner, a young woman (Stephanie Dufresne), joined him from the shadows in a dream state. Laid on the floor, her body convulsed and moved frantically, seemingly controlled by Nuno’s spirit character; a mere marionette for him to play with.

Upon waking she took her guitar to be repaired by the Maker (Matthew Lackford) in his workshop. As she entered, guitar in hand, the attraction and tension between them was beautifully represented by their motions both being slowed to a half pace. The story of their love and the spirit’s interference was then played out through the days and nights: the days saw their romance blossoming as they connected through a shared love of music, the atmosphere playful, light and flirtatious. Yet at night, the spirit refused to let their romance blossom, manipulating the pair and raising the sexual tension by coming between them, teasing and taunting.

The performance did start to drag a little just before the interval, as the day and night scenes repeated themselves one too many times. It was the scenes where all three dancers were on stage that were some of the strongest, the spirit’s malevolent nature adding a seductive edge to the couple’s actions that were so genteel when left to themselves. The show climaxed as the Maker became a bull and the Woman a matador, charging and swooping around each other, trying to break free of the jealousy that the spirit was trying to impose on them.

The night was deftly soundtracked by the live music engineered on stage by Sabio Janiak, adding effects such as heartbeats to the music. Silva’s fado singing was clear and cutting – and impressive considering the energy that he was exerting – and not overused. The lighting for the show could have almost been considered an extra player it was that integral to the performance, and the grace of the Dufresne’s movements combined with Silva’s dark strength made for gripping viewing.

Wanting to combine his two loves – dance and fado – Nuno Silva succeeding at delivering an evening of passionate, dramatic dance and music that lingered well in to my dreams.

A Darker Shade of Fado was at Lakeside Arts Centre on Tuesday 29 April 2014.


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