A Spanish affair full of energy

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to spansih3 Making a splash: Julia Bonegio, second from left, and her Spanish dance company will present Energia at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square this week.

Esme Everard, a radio name from the past. Think of programmes such as So Maak Mens, her talked about advertisements for a famous brand of washing powder, also speaking to the boys on the border. Remember those days?

The memories came flooding back with the announcement that Julia Bonegio and her vibrant Spanish dance company will be presenting Energia, in a short season opening tonight at Sandton’s Old Mutual Theatre on the Square running until Saturday.

The cast includes her husband Raul on guitar as well as their twin daughters, Raquel and Natalia, as dancers and Raul’s brother, Fernando, also on the guitar.

Raul and Fernando are Everard’s sons and it was their father, Gilberto Bonegio, who nurtured their love for flamenco music. They started out with dreams of a rock band, but when their father was in a serious car accident, the boys felt they had to honour his music. That’s what they did, both travelling and learning at different times in Spain, but it was tough work. “We had to retrain our fingers to play in a different way,” explains Raul. But growing up in a family where their father trained their mother Esme to sing when he needed a singing partner, anything is possible.

Julia and the head of the dance studio grew up in a similar family, one who loved and supported the arts. She started dancing at a very young age but it was only in her later high school years that she turned to Spanish dancing. She was part of the Mercedes Molina company and when she died and her partner Enrique Segovia also relinquished dancing, (“I think it was too tough for him to go it alone,” says Julia), she felt she had to keep Spanish dancing alive, which is exactly what she did.

It was her Spanish dancing and Raul’s Flamenco skills on guitar that first brought them together and when a daughter from his first marriage encouraged him to go and see his new love where she was studying dance in Barcelona, he didn’t need too much nagging. “I proposed to her at a bus stop in Barcelona,” he says and that was the beginning of a love affair both on stage and in life with their twin daughters Raquel and Natalia, 19, both part of the company. They’re both varsity students, but will never let go of the dancing.

“I can’t think of my life without it,” says Natalia.

There’s much more to the story. The battle to keep a Spanish company alive is ongoing, but if anyone knows the ropes and has the determination to boot, they do.

Julia teaches and together they do corporate gigs and perform in small venues whenever they can.

“We haven’t done a big show for a few years though,” says Julia, but she thought it was time. The show includes Flamenco sequences, as well as traditional and neo-classical Spanish pieces and even a Gypsy Kings routine for pure enjoyment.

“I love the neo-classical music,” says Julia who has promised herself she will return to Spain this year to brush up on the latest techniques and simply to catch up on everything happening in the world of Spanish dance.

“We do master classes here when we can because different professionals are brought to this country, but it’s not quite the same,” she says.

Raul and Fernando will be playing guitar live for the show and two of the dancers, Ana and Conchita Romero, also play instruments, a violin and a cello, and they will be performing as a quartet with the two guitarists for some of the numbers.

The company also includes Matthew Unterslak (Mateo de Utrera), a fine young male dancer and marks the professional debut of the young and very talented Noria Velasquez.

The name of the show, Energia, says everything about who they are as a company.

“I hope people leave the show with boundless energy,” says Julia.

• There’s a preview on tonight, shows until Friday at 8.15pm with the season ending on Saturday with two shows at 6pm and 8.30pm.


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