14th Festival de Jerez 2010
GREEK TRAGEDY, CÁDIZ GOOD HUMOR AND MORE…
GRUPO DE MARÍA CANEA. Dance: María Canea. Guitar: Eugenio Iglesias. Cante: Pepe de Pura, Vicente Gelo. Percussion: José Carrasco.
Intense activity at the Festival de Jerez on Sunday, Andalusia’s national day, beginning with the press conference where Farruquito, Remedios Amaya, Diego Carrasco and Jesús Méndez shared the microphone to explain their respective shows. Also presented was the book “El Flamenco que Viví” by its author, Utrera dancer José de la Vega.
At seven in the evening at the Sala Compañía, two young dancers with very different approaches offered a sampling of their art in a shared recital. We discovered Huelva dancer María Canea at last summer’s Festival de La Unión where she took second prize in dance. And we discovered her once again last night at this venue reserved for small formats and young artists, where so many hopefuls have been able to show what they can do. There is no question that Canea is destined to do important things in flamenco. Her dancing is absolutely up-to-date, clean, geometric to just the right degree and reminiscent at moments of Rocío Molina, without actually seeming to copy her. Hers is an intelligent dance, but spontaneous and sparkling, stylized and personal, with plenty of swagger. It’s a contemporary concept, but with the sensitivity that allows her to recreate old moves with credibility. Neither predictable nor over the top. María knows the power of silence and of contrast, she knows how to say much with little and is technically polished. Her excellent backup guided us through taranto, abandalao cante without dance and soleá.
The second part of the recital was local dancer Carmen Herrera, with a conventional style and few surprises, although she was enthusiastically cheered by family and friends. Hers was a dignified performance, though it had the feel at times of dance school choreography with Jerez-flavored soleá por bulería and bulerías in which the most noteworthy elements were the singing of Miguel Lavi, José “Mijita” and el Londro, and the guitar of Santiago Lara.
Drenched by the rain, we arrived at the Villamarta just in time for “Fedra”. This production based on the well-known Greek tragedy Phaedra, is the best proof of something known to all chefs: to get excellent results, you must use excellent ingredients. Though I’m no fan of large-format works with complex story lines decorated with dance, I’m pleased to report that this interpretation of Euripides maintained its interest and quality from beginning to end, and avoided what could easily have fallen into the realm of the ridiculous if left to less expert hands.
Javier Latorre’s choreography doesn’t lose the flamenco thread at any moment, and veteran director Miguel Narros, reworking his earlier version of the same work, has managed to lay out this complicated story in such a way that you would never guess it was written over two millenniums ago. Amador Rojas is histrionically magnificent, few others could have pulled off this dramatic role, and Alejandro Granados, although he should have been given more of the spotlight considering his outsized talent, is imposing by the sheer force of his personality. Carmelilla Montoya is resourceful and surprising, and the oneiric voice of Enrique Morente with the reverb button turned to maximum, fits here just right. As far as Lola Greco, here’s what Javier Latorre declared at the press conference: “Lola Greco is the best dancer in the entire history of Spanish dance”. She hardly leaves the stage for a single moment, and does amazing things with her arms and legs, fascinates with her mature beauty and is impressive in the force of her interpretation. Between seductions, deceit, death, suicide and a big motorcycle driven around the stage, there is still room for soleá por bulería, soleá, cante minero, siguiriyas, tientos, bulerías, petenera, a pseudo saeta with strange ascending tones, and the miraculous feat of keeping a perfect balance between dance, theater and flamenco, something that escapes so many others. Pain and anguish made beautiful via flamenco.
At midnight at the Bodega de los Apóstoles, Mariana Cornejo and David Palomar lit up the dark rainy night with the brilliance of Cádiz they produce so naturally. Between compas and anecdotes with the flavor of Cádiz, the young man and the veteran lady worked up a believable chemistry, interpreting tientos tangos, milonga, siguiriyas, malagueña, alegrías, soleá, bulerías de Cádiz and tanguillos dedicated to Chano Lobato.