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Domingo Ortega / Alberto Sellés in Festival de Jerez

Domingo Ortega "El baile canta"
Alberto Sellés "Las campanas del olvido"
Felipa del Moreno, Ana de los Reyes
Tuesday, February 25th, 2014. Jerez de la Frontera
March 8, 2014
Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Ana Palma

Special 18th Festival de Jerez - All the information

Teatro Villamarta, 9:00pm

Dance, choreography, artistic director: Domingo Ortega. Dance: Sandra Guerrero. Guest artist (voice): Fernando de la Morena. Special collaboration (dance): Mari Paz Lucena. Guitar: Jesús Álvarez, Fernando de la Rúa. Electric guitar: Juan Delola. Cante: Sonia Bérbel, Matías López, Kiko de Manola. Percussion: Matías López. Stage director: Fernando Belmonte

Good weather is holding in Jerez for this eighteenth edition of the Festival, people are in the street, everyone wants to get their share of flamenco and there are plenty of options available.  For example on Tuesday evening at the Villamarta theater the show “El Baile Canta” of Domingo Ortega.

Ortega, a native of Jerez, is a contradiction.  In the first place, I believe he is a genius of flamenco dance despite the inexplicable lack of recognition.  He spends long periods outside the country where his talent is appreciated, perhaps for this reasons doors don’t open easily for him here in his hometown.

However, the show “El Baile Canta” we saw last night at the Villamarta theater did not have the quality you would expect.  And that’s the contradiction, that there is a huge gap between the high level of his dancing, and the deficiencies of the work overall.


Domingo Ortega - Festival de Jerez

Let’s examine the problem...  The program notes include a declaration of principles that really means business: “In this show, Domingo Ortega takes us back […] to the roots of flamenco, roots which in recent times have been forgotten, locked up in a box under lock and key as if showing the true essence of flamenco were something shameful. With this work Domingo aims to give flamenco back its worth and write in capital letters the word FLAMENCO”.  I don’t know if anyone is capable of achieving such ambitious goals with just one show.  But then the work is full of decidedly retro references…harmonized vocals, stale choreographies for the female dancers, two vocal solos of scant interest, the good ol’ rocking chair in front of the full-length mirror…  More than “flamenco puro”, it’s old-hat flamenco. 

Nevertheless, this man is an untapped genius of dance.  His use of subtlety to express strength, his physical command; when lesser dancers would pound the floor and jump around, this man manages to transmit his considerable power with the most subtle wrist movement or a tilt of the head.  And although he clearly owes a lot to current stars, he has an unmistakable style of his own, a language spoken only by him, but understood by all.  And he manages whatever he sets out to do, there are no iffy moments, he never miscalculates.  The taste he lacks for mounting a show (his name appears as “artistic director”), is abundantly on-target for his own dancing, always flamenco in the most noble sense of the word.

We saw Domingo at the Sala la Compañía in the Festival de Jerez of 2006, and at that time I wrote that “Domingo Ortega is one of the great flamenco dance talents of his generation”.  That was eight years ago, I still have the same opinion of him and the man still fails to occupy the place he deserves.

There is martinete with siguiriya, two female dancers for alegrías de Córdoba, bulerías, taranto with tangos, soleá…  When Fernando de la Morena arrives on stage to sing bulerías for Domingo, it’s the high point of the show.  Fernando is left alone to sing his trillas, and then one of the women dances farruca.  Domingo maintains his outstanding level with alegrías to end.  Excellent dancer.


Sala la Compañía, 12 midnight

At midnight in the Sala Compañía, young Cádiz dancer Alberto Sellés presented a fine piece of work considering the limitations of this venue.  Guitar and cante of high quality with guest artists Rafael Rodríguez on guitar, and singer David Palomar (is it okay to call them “guest artists” when there’s no one else in the group?), with the palmas of Roberto Jaén and Diego Montoya, and music director Faustino Núñez.

Alberto Selles

This young dancer, full of vitality and anxious to please, began directly with martinete with Palomar singing, who followed up with malagueñas to the highly stylized guitar of Rafael Rodríguez.  This may be the only guitarist nowadays who shies away from contemporary harmony, preferring to update traditional flamenco guitar in his own way, and a fine job he does.  Palomar interprets soleá de Cádiz and tientos tangos, and being from Cádiz, “somehow” all roads lead to tanguillos with classic verses.  The young dancer delights the audience when they all sing, dance and play their way down the main aisle, in full swing, and return to the stage to end with bulerías.  Lots of good clean fun.


Palacio Villavicencio, 7:00pm

Two Jerez ladies full of flamenco strength shared a recital at the Palacio Villamarta.  Felipa del Moreno sang in the first half accompanied by the guitar of Manuel Valencia.  She used her sweetly funky voice for alegrías de Cádiz, tientos tangos and bulerías to finish.  Chiqui de Jerez, whose real name is Ana de los Reyes, began bravely with malagueñas ending with abandolao.  Following this, she sang por soleá and soleá por bulería, alegrías and bulerías with Antonio Higuero on guitar and Luis and Ali de la Tota doing the palmas.  A very Jerez-oriented recital which few Jerez natives attended.

Felipa del Moreno