Manuel Liñán “¡Viva!”
FESTIVAL FLAMENCO ALBURQUERQUE
Thursday, June 20th, 2019. 8:00 pm. Albuquerque Journal Theatre, USA
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Director, choreographer: Manuel Liñán. Dance and choreography: Manuel Liñán, Manuel Betanzos, Jonatán Miró, Hugo López, Miguel Heredia, Víctor Martín, Daniel Ramos. Guitar: Francisco Vinuesa. Voice: David Carpio, Ismael de la Rosa. Violin: Víctor Guadiana. Percussion: Kike Terrón. Music: Francisco Vinuesa, Víctor Guadiana, Kike Terrón.
Last night the surprising work “¡Viva!” of Manuel Liñán came to the Festival Flamenco of Albuquerque 2019 for its North American premiere.
It’s an internalized psychological work that might be uncomfortable for some, illuminating for others, brilliant and inspired for the majority.
A variety of elements make up our respective identities: age, nationality, physical appearance, religious beliefs, tastes… But nothing defines us more clearly than gender. Your sexual identity. Aside from each one’s intimate life, you are, above all else, a man or a woman. With this baggage, Liñán’s imagination becomes reality and frolics through our most hidden thoughts, blending them to a homogenous purée with the ease of a food processor. The brilliant Granada choreographer, director and dancer, has the audacity to dress an entire masculine corps de ballet in female flamenco attire complete with ruffles, colored polka-dots, long train dresses, earrings with large flowers to match and fringed shawls.
At first you think “of course…they dress up as women to draw attention and maybe get people riled”. But at some point you begin to realize there’s much more to it. Because Liñán doesn’t take the easy route but rather makes us participate in his game. With an intense visual dialogue he fine-tunes and challenges our most fundamental beliefs: “who are you? why do you dress like a man or a woman? why do you behave in ways established by society?” He unceremoniously silences that little voice in our heads, the same one that tells us to exercise and avoid cholesterol.
Segments of classic flamenco dance are well-interpreted with the excellent vocal support of David Carpio and Ismael de la Rosa, and the guitar of Francisco Vinuesa, generously sprinkled with Chaplin-style humor. Lately there seems to be more room for humor in flamenco. One moment you’re seeing Carmen Amaya of Los Tarantos, or the dancers move like rag-dolls from your worst nightmare, or they sing La Niña de la Venta tablao-style or we see what is surely the first footwork danced on the ceiling with the dancer upside-down, and don’t ask me to explain what I just wrote, you have to see it.
At the end, artistic heights are reached through wardrobe modifications, and the dresses and shawls are left hanging without owners, mere rags that serve our purposes at a given moment to communicate who we are…or would like to be.