|16th Festival de Jerez 2012
Text: Estela Zatania
THE TRIUMPH OF GOOD TASTE
MANUELA CARPIO “Manuela con el alma”
Dance: Manuela Carpio. Cante: Luis Moneo, Londro, Carmen Grilo, Luis Zambo (guest artist). Guitar: Juan Diego. Palmas: Mariano Heredia.
Jerez dancer Manuela Carpio, from the most flamenco families of this flamenco city, is an open secret here. Authentic, vital, enthusiastic, in love with life. She’s got no official website or promotional DVD, no choreographer. She organizes her career without the standard tools artists consider essential in order to get to the top. It’s probably because this woman is already at the top of the kind of flamenco dance she seeks and cultivates. This is an instinctive temperamental dancer, with innate flamenco good taste she’s been absorbing from the air that has surrounded her since childhood.
Jerez has a couple of dance stars, but no discernable “school”. Therefore, Manuela is unique, she can’t be pigeon-holed, while at the same time this new work, “Manuela con el Alma”, follows certain established stage forms, from the platitude of the wooden table with the singers sitting around, to the drawn-out bulerías fiesta ending. Nothing to be discovered in that department. The freshness is in Carpio’s dancing. As happens with great interpreters, she makes every performance the first one, no matter how many times she repeats it.
After the projection of images of Manuela since she was a child up until the present, and an impossibly long down-time (the presentation has some rough spots), Manuela appears on stage to sing and dance bulerías in the best tradition of the classic “festeros”.
Singers Luis Zambo (guest artist), Londro, Luis Moneo and Carmen Grilo offer a round of tonás to prologue Manuela’s siguiriyas which follows, powerful and decisive in every move, both here and in the soleá she also danced. She has some rhythmic ideas that are quite frankly original, and always interesting thanks to the underpinning of knowledge that keeps her from doing anything ill-advised for the sake of being “different”.
Two solo cantes by Luis Zambo with Juan Diego accompanying on guitar was perhaps excessive for a dance show, despite the undeniable quality of Luis’ singing.
It all comes inevitably to an end with the bulería fiesta in which the group demonstrates its solidarity and commitment to the most natural and substantial sort of Jerez-style flamenco.
“¡VIVA JEREZ” – Video
Guest artists: Antonio el Pipa, La Macanita, Jesús Méndez.. Special collaboration: Juan Parra. With the participation of Ana Ma. López, Macarena Ramírez. Cante: Londro, David Carpio, Pescaílla. Guitar: Manuel Valencia, Manuel Parrilla, Javier Ibáñez.
If the previous night we were able to enjoy the strictly vocal side of Jerez flamenco, Saturday night at the Villamarta theater was a continuation of Jerez self-love this city practices so obsessively.
The show “¡Viva Jerez!” presented in this festival four years ago, far from being repetitive, is a delightful piece of work which was very deserving of this comeback; these are not times for shows that are performed only once and then discarded, and when they’re of good quality, the second time around is all the more welcome.
Divided into seven scenes, the first offers the attractive image of fourteen Andalusian “country people” to evoke the era of the gañanías (communal living quarters of farm-hands) so closely related to the history of Jerez, and defend the importance of the non-gypsy facet of flamenco with songs of trilla and abandolao.
The transitions are clean and efficient thanks to the firm hand of veteran director Francisco López. Macanita sings nanas, seated alone under a hanging lightbulb. Antonio el Pipa arrives on the scene, and the guitars sound por soleá. Macanita sings as only she can, the role normally filled by Tía Juana. It’s a different dynamic, but it works to perfection thanks to the quality of the human resources: two great artists with their art on display, the triumph of flamenco over avant-garde experiments, even over the artists themselves. Macanita’s voice, so beautifully flamenco, like fresh spring water gushing over shining pebbles. And Pipa, a great dancer, no matter what anyone may say.
The wardrobe and lighting are both lovely and well-designed for this long show, cut down to “just” two hours (without intermission) since its debut. It’s impossible to cite all the numbers, but noteworthy was Juan Parra for the sincerity of his dancing, and Ana María López, two of the best-loved dance teachers in Jerez. Pescaílla adds his clever humor to the compás of tanguillo and bulerías. Also worthy of mention is the singing of Jesús Méndez, and Macarena Ramírez, formerly a young student of Pipa’s, has grown into a young adult and a fine dancer…she is surely a candidate for the prize for best young artist of the festival.
Macanita evokes Paquera de Jerez…the scene of the airport and the artists in transit…Pescaílla’s horsing around…Pipa’s alegrías…the symbolic old lady pretending to dance…pure Jerez, not haphazardly, but in an orderly manner representing the spontaneity that illuminates and gives dimension to flamenco in its natural state.