This reflection on motherhood presented by the dancer is beautiful, and rejects clichés and saccharine references, but doesn’t manage to make the autobiographical story a universal one.
Silvia Cruz Lapeña
At the Teatre Grec, white sand on the ground, a small swimming pool and three women who are both mothers and daughters. The show begins with “Tango de la Vía Láctea” of Silvia Pérez Cruz. Rocío Molina’s mother, Lola Cruz, dances, and soon the main dancer joins in, making a beautiful and tender pas de deux, in which Lola gives her all. Rocío closes with a string of complaints accompanied by the electronics of Carlos Gárate: “Quiero que vengas a verme de tu propia voluntad” [I want you to come of your own free will] howls Pérez at that point, one of the most disturbing moments of the work.
That’s how Grito Pelao gets underway, the work Molina presented at the Festival de Avignon ten days ago and which debuted in Spain at the Festival Grec de Barcelona. The Málaga woman had already explained it was a reflection on maternity, but the spectator soon realizes that Molina has come to talk about many other things. “Mom, I don’t know how to move my hips, I move them like a man, forward and back. It doesn’t bother you, does it?” she says to Lola upon getting into a fabulous taranto, now in her fourth month of pregnancy.
In this way, Molina lays out a dialogue about the roles of flamenco, and also, in a certain way, the criticism of her way of dancing. And if Molina speaks about this, it’s because reality is changing: never before has a flamenco told her story of being a single lesbian who is going to have a daughter by means of artificial insemination. Which is why Pérez Cruz composed some specific pieces that use words like “semen” and “cunt”, to peel away all taboos from a body able to give birth.
Molina didn’t even need five minutes to show that her baby bump is no obstacle. She controls herself, of course, but doesn’t skimp, and at times you saw she wanted to take flight, for example when she dances the soleá from Bosque Ardora and the dancer seems able to get the audience out of their seats with a single turn of the wrist or a hip movement.
Even with the limits she herself has put to protect her stomach, she manages the maximum: that’s intelligence. Like dancing seated, carrying out some very rapid flamenco movements where she reminds you of La Chana following the rhythm of El Oruco, the most flamenco part of the show, and a valuable support for the deepest moments.
The staging is perfect: the colors, the lighting, the animation, the videos accompany the dancer’s various moods as well as narrating them. The use of audiovisual material, including an ultrasound scan, is minimal and pertinent, showing how well Molina chooses her collaborators: in this case, Carlos Marquerie, David Benito y Antonio Serrano.
Ever resourceful, Molina accompanies a variety of pieces and intensities because in Grito Pelao, it isn’t just the desire to be a mother, or the joy of being pregnant: there are also doubts, abortion, frustration, sadness and she even takes into account the point of view of the person being born, because of giving birth is a specific state, coming into the world is just as dramatic.
The floor-work she put to such good use in Caída el cielo is just right for this work in which her body must change position frequently. She drags herself like a dying larvae, like a being in suffering, like another one that rests, because despite her rage, Molina has always demonstrated she’s not afraid of calm, of slow microscopic movement. And now even less so, since she’s living through a marked stage of waiting.
Words and humor
In the work, the performers speak a lot, but reciting isn’t Molina’s strong point, nor that of Pérez Cruz. In that sense, Lola stands out, with a powerful natural talent, adding intention to the words above and beyond the quality you’d expect from an amateur.
In that sense, it’s true that a woman’s first person has today a restorative value that is serving to break silence, injustice and historic repression. But Molina already dealt with many hidden aspects of the feminine body in Caída del Cielo in a more eloquent manner and without opening her mouth. Which is why, more than once, you have the impression that the spoken word, more than making things flow, is an obstacle to the powerful story being told in Grito Pelao.
To rinse things clean and regroup, humor, which is no exception in Molina’s works, where there’s always a touch of swagger, spicy humor and naughtiness. In Grito Pelao those moments subtract tension, helping to change scenes and contribute to something important when a sensitive issue is taken on: the rejection of affectation.
One of the best things of this show is precisely that, that it doesn’t touch on maternity, babies, bellies and cheap emotions, but rather from the stance of the entire body. Taking it on in this way, from flesh and blood, the topic aches the way ovaries ache, and is as annoying as nausea: as happens to a woman, not a virgin. Dealing with it in this way, and from a variety of moods, Molina effortlessly rejects happiness and keeps her distance, once again, from stupidity and cliché.
The work of Silvia Pérez Cruz is impeccable, and she acts like the perfect midwife, friend and sister, she doesn’t go off-key even trying to do so. El Grec isn’t the best venue for this work, which would surely show off its strong points in more intimate theaters, but Pérez managed to color the work and the place with a Mediterranean feel. Musically, she was at her best singing the verses of “Para un Hijo sin Padre” of Sylvia Plath with violinist Carlos Monfort.
At some point, such as in the soleá played wonderfully on guitar by Eduardo Trasierra, we missed José Ángel Carmona, who sings so well for Molina although it’s also true that when the Málaga dancer brings out the flamenco, she doesn’t even need palmas.
Lola Cruz deserves special mention: she was magic on stage. Vigilant, amorous and generous, as much as Rocío who once again showed her bravery when she dared to bare herself once again, not by taking off her clothing, which is nothing, but lowering all the barriers. Few people would dare take on such a difficult voyage, without lying to herself, and so open to the world.
The work is more like a “performance” than a standard dance show. Right after seeing it, you have the doubt of whether it’s too long (two hours) or if the author needs to pull it together to link the autobiographical part with the universal. The sequences, based on various stages of Molina’s life, at times come off as anecdotes from a personal diary more than reflections, which was what the artist had promised in this work.
In Grito Pelao, something is missing that doesn’t usually happen with this creator: direct communication, at times frontal, with the audience. Aside from a dance in water, the soleá and the inverted feminine Piedad staged holding up her mother on the floor, there are few really electrifying moments.
The show is, like the baby, under construction, and it’s possible this very night and on the same stage things change, but many pregnancy help books say that being withdrawn is typical of pregnant women who observe and listen to themselves as they had never done before. And there’s something of that in this phase of Grito Pelao.