XVI BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA
SPECIAL COVERAGE: BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA 2010
“PUERTAS ADENTRO” Cía. Antonio el Pipa
Director, choreography and staging: Antonio El Pipa. Dance: Antonio El Pipa, Macarena Ramírez, Christian de los Reyes, Claudia Cruz, Natalia Meriño, Begoña Arce, Ana Ojeda, Luz María de la Era. Cante: Juana la del Pipa, María Mezcle, Gori Muñoz, Joaquín Flores. Guest singer: Cancanilla de Marbella. Guitar: Pascual de Lorca, Javi Ibáñez. Jaleo and compás: Luis de la Tota. Original music: José Luis Montón.
Love, life, death, the natural cycle, and the subject of all artistic endeavors is the broad context for this work liberally based on the poetry of Miguel Hernández whose centennial is being celebrated this year.
Antonio el Pipa, the Jerez dancer who most represents his town abroad, is faithful to traditional flamenco which in light of his background and training, is what suits him best. But he is always seeking “the work”, the definitive theatrical presentation to showcase his art, because nowadays the powers that be demand “projects”, and the person who says simply “I am a dancer, and I want to dance” has little future. In “Puertas Adentro” which debuted three years ago in Málaga en Flamenco, and which is Pipa’s seventh work, we again see a production which is uneven theater-wise, but frankly admirable flamenco-wise. If we’ve spent most of the Bienal complaining about dark misguided productions overloaded with symbolism, in “Puertas Adentro” there is nothing more than the ingenuous sincere vision of Antonio el Pipa who just wants to recreate scenes from his life.
The show has evolved since its debut, without losing the central theme. Now Pipa has “imported” voices from Sanlúcar and Marbella, María Mezcle and Cancanilla, to tell his story. In the first scene, which alludes to the death of the dancer’s mother, the “pregnant” singer bears the child about to be born to the dancer who interprets peteneras dressed in a retro suit and hat. The script fades into the background, and a classic cuadro is formed in which Cancanilla is noteworthy singing and dancing (he started out as a dancer) accompanied by an inexplicably unamplified guitar that was inaudible from the third row. Another problem was the isolation at the rear of the stage of the fine guitarist Pascual de Lorca who still follows the old custom of looking at the artist being accompanied (please find the irony in that last bit), instead of playing set compositions which are danced to. You see him in the semi-darkness arching his neck from one side to the other trying to take a visual reading of the performers.
But if the technical part was less than perfect, there was little to criticize in the artistic. Pipa’s siguiriyas, nana por tangos… A guajira is danced by Pipa’s young protégé Macarena Ramírez, now all grown up although she is still made to wear a short skirt while the rest of the women wear elegant ankle-length dresses. A recording of Jerez singers sets the mood for bulerías, and we see another protégé who has been under the tutelage of Pipa for years, Christian de los Reyes, now considerably more mature than in the debut, an admirable budding artist with clear ability for flamenco dance.
Everything unfolds through bulería por solea and bulerías, and the script finally melts away completely. Cancanilla sings soleá for Pipa, and you do miss the chemistry between the dancer and his aunt Juana la del Pipa who is less in the spotlight than in other works of her nephew.
Generally speaking, it was a relief to have some down time from all the “conceptuality” we’ve seen over recent days, and the long final ovation seemed to indicate that an important part of the audience agrees.
“NEGRO COMO LA ENDRINA” Pedro Peña, Inés Bacán, Concha Vargas
Text: Estela Zatania
Cante: Inés Bacán, Pedro Peña, María Peña. Dance: Concha Vargas, Diego de la Margara, Fernanda Funi. Guitar: Pedro Ma. Peña, Antonio Moya. Compás: Antonio el Pelao, Vicente Romaní. Director: Tere Peña.
“Negro Como la Endrina” is the poetic title of a show created and directed by Tere Peña with the aim of representing flamenco as practiced in her hometown of Lebrija and family.
During the press conference to present the show, Pedro Peña said that “in order to understand flamenco, you have to experience it first-hand”, and thanks to just that kind of experience the group that included Inés Bacán,. Concha Vargas and Pedro himself, was able to offer the emotion and spontaneity of a flamenco family gathering to the numerous audience that packed the patio of the Hotel Triana
The show has grown since its embryonic performance (somehow “premiere” sounds too superficial) earlier this year at the Festival de Jerez. It has been rehearsed just enough to achieve coherence, without sacrificing artistic freedom and spontaneity, a difficult equilibrium that escapes so many others. The mournful voice of Inés Bacán cut through the air with tonás, answered by those of Pedro Peña with his warm dense voice. The specific delivery of Inés lends mystery to the cantiñas of Lebrija, and Pedro interprets his well-known song “Un Duro en la Faltriquera” with the hypnotic swaying characteristic of Lebrija compás. Inés por soleá leaves no doubt about the thread that unites Jerez, Lebrija and Utrera, and the seductive compás enables non-histrionic fandangos; in this part of the flamenco territory, the singer doesn’t go in search of the ‘duende’, but patiently awaits its arrival. Siguiriyas of Inés and Pedro, without guitar and taken at a clip, like the old singers, the dancing of Concha Vargas and Diego de la Margara, and once again the enthusiastic swell of applause says “yes”, conceptual work has its place, but flamenco followers feed on cante, dance, guitar and compás, elements not subject to passing whims.
“EL AGUA ENCENDIDA” Juan Carlos Romero
Guitar: Juan Carlos Romero; Cante: El Pulga; Second guitar: Paco Cruzado; Percussion: Tino Di Geraldo; Violin: Alexis Lefebre; Chorus: Los Melli.
Text: Gonzalo Montaño Peña
Guitarist Juan Carlos Romero came to the Teatro Central to present his most recent recording, “El Agua Encendida”, a work which highlights the maturity of a musician who is first and foremost flamenco, and seems not to need other identities to find his own.
Perhaps for this reason he started out a little nervous, with an unsure attack that didn’t get a clean sound out of the guitar in the opening soleá.
Juan Carlos Romero came to show us his truth, his concept of flamenco music, an idea that does not use being modern as an excuse to evade the responsibilities of an authentic flamenco guitarist.
In his solo compositions I could see that his base is in melody and modulation, with clear references to Manolo Sanlúcar (who was in the audience) and a thread he pulls on to find the ideas that are hidden within the great labyrinth of musical concepts he deals with.
In the pieces with vocals, there was an aesthetic taste for pleasant sounds, the kind you like the first time you hear them, such as his Bulerías del Sombrero. In the most upbeat themes, Romero is clearly happiest, with a special sparkle and driving compás. This was what surprised me the most, the way he composes with voice, such as the very interesting fandangos dedicated to Paco Toronjo and almost wept by Carmen Molina, one of the best moments of the night.
The backup group was also well-chosen. Second guitar Paco Cruzado played an important role at various moments, while the chorus and percussion of Tino di Geraldo sought less common sounds than usually provided.
The concert grew continually. We were shown a guitarist of the moment, with clear references to his hometown, and well-formed concepts as well as an idea of where he was going. He addresses the truth he believes in, in what he’s learned since childhood and developed over a lifetime. He doesn’t need anyone to tell him where he should go, because it’s something he’s known for a very long time.