Photos: Ana Palma
XXI FESTIVAL DE JEREZ
Antonio el Pipa «Así que pasen 20 años (1997-2017)»
Saturday, March 11th, 2017. 9:00pm. Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera
Dance: Antonio el Pipa. Guest artist (cante): Juana la del Pipa. Guest artists (dance): María del Mar Moreno, Mercedes Ruiz, Macarena Ramírez, Concha Vargas. Corps de ballet: Fabiola Barba, Cristina Vidal, Ofelia Márquez, Vanesa Reyes, Laura Bejines, Margarita Ruiz de Castro. Cante: Felipa del Moreno, Carmen Cantarota, Sandra Zarzana. Guitar: Juan José Alba, Javier Ibáñez, Santiago Lara (special collaboration).
The thing is, the Festival de Jerez is precisely that. A celebration of this city’s flamenco, in all shapes and forms. There’s a very ample offering of artists from out-of-town, and of the highest quality. But the basic framework depends on home-grown singers, dancers and guitarists. Recitals of Jerez interpreters such as Manuel Parrilla, Luis Moneo and Antonio Agujeta among others, the médium-size format of Antonio Malena’s show, the young people from the most representative families of the city and Melchora Ortega, Joaquín Grilo, Manuela Carpio…lots of good people to leave no doubt as to the survival of classic flamenco in Jerez.
Last night, after the superb recital of Jerez guitarist Manuel Valencia at the Sala Paúl, it was dancer Antonio el Pipa who closed out these sixteen days of great shows. If two decades ago this dancer was a promising newcomer, he is now an experienced well-known professional, an evolution that parallels that of this very Festival.
The show began with the projection of a series of images from previous works of Pipa’s throughout his career. Antonio arrives on-stage from the rear of the audience, triumphantly going down the aisle, in formal dress, smiling as if he were going to accept an Oscar, and the audience responds with a strong ovation; El Pipa has always has a keen theatrical sense.
When the show proper gets underway, it’s a recuperation of some of the best moments of his many works. Nine women, six dancers in bata de cola and three female singers, in addition to guitarists Juan José Alba, Javier Ibáñez and Santiago Lara, support the emotional reencounter with the past. Cantes de trilla, cantinas…Antonio wears a traditional ‘traje corto’ and high boots, elegant, mature, intense and imposing. His dramatic build-ups and endings are excitedly applauded by an audience that once was his, but needs to be won over again. And he manages to do it, as he has on so many occasions.
Macarena Ramírez, who started out with El Pipa as an adolescent, now reappears to dance a lovely guajira. Another nostalgic guest artist is Mercedes Ruiz who dances siguiriyas, followed by el Pipa’s tangos with the three female voices. Bulería por soleá finally brings Juana la del Pipa to recall that very special collaboration with her nephew Antonio, and María del Mar Moreno joins the dance, while Concha Vargas provides another nostalgic moment from El Pipa’s artistic past.
The work comes to an end, and with it, the Festival de Jerez, 2017, and we’ve already marked the calendar for next year, February 23rd, 2018, when the twenty-second edition of this venerable event is scheduled to take place.