23rd FESTIVAL DE JEREZ
Compañía Mercedes Ruiz “Tauromagia”
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019. 9:00pm. Teatro Villamarta
Dance: Mercedes Ruiz, Ana Agraz. Corps de ballet: Beatriz Santiago, Aurora Caraballo, Vanesa Reyes. Voice: David Lagos (guest artist).Guitar, music director: Santiago Lara. 2nd guitar: Paco León. Keyboard: Juan Amosa. Percussion: Perico Navarro, Rafael Fontaina. Off-stage voice: Manolo Sanlúcar. Libretto, stage director: Francisco López.
It’s been three decades since the release of Tauromagia, Manolo Sanlúcar’s masterpiece that has become a classic, and Jerez dancer Mercedes Ruiz took on the challenge of choreographing it.
The worlds of bullfighting and flamenco have common roots and culture. The theme of death is a constant in flamenco as it is in bullfighting, a pairing that has inspired other flamenco artists such as Israel Galván (“Arena”), Antonio Canales (“Torero”) and Salvador Távora (his version of “Carmen”) among others. And certainly the work of Lorca has left these parallel worlds forever united since a long time back.
To translate such a complex, physical and specific activity as bullfighting into something as abstract as flamenco dance is no easy task. The typical representation of a charging bull and other gestures of tourist bravura was avoided, although some arms and hands seemed to be imitating the horns of a bull, it was nearly inevitable. But then it didn’t seem incongruous that a group of women dancers would represent bullfighting. Generally speaking, I doubt any spectator unaware of the intent and origin of the work would have realized what it was all about.
So let’s talk about the attractive presentation offered by our dancer. Jerez has no school of dance, but it does have important dance stars, and Mercedes Ruiz is one of them. A willowy figure, sublime elegance, clean strong footwork and what is most welcome of all, absolute command of the accessories of women’s flamenco dance: shawl, fan, castanets, and especially, the bata de cola. Santiago Lara, recent laureate of the Bienal de Sevilla was brilliant on guitar, in addition to young guitarist Paco León, the warm voice of David Lagos, dancers Beatriz Santiago, Aurora Caraballo and Vanesa Reyes, with Juan Amosa on keyboard and the percussion of Perico Navarro and Rafael Fontaina.
Tangos, bulería por soleá, minera bulerías, and an excellent martinete siguiriya… The pieces follow one after another, nine from the original recording, and verses of Miguel Hernández sung by the versatile David Lagos. And lastly, the famous alegrías, “Puerta del Príncipe” with its “trabili tran”.
The off-stage voice of the maestro Manolo Sanlúcar solemnly wrapped up the show with a fragment of verse of Hernández: “I’m going, going, but I’m here…goodbye and farewell”.