“Notas al pie”: Dance, Javier Barón.
Cante, Juan José Amador, Pepe de Pura. Guitar, Javier
Patiño, Javier Iglesias. Violín, Alexis. Percussion,
“Entre Lebrija y Utrera”: Cante, Gaspar de Utrera,
Pepa de Benito, Inés Bacán. Guitar, Antonio
After the opulence of “Las mil y una noches”, the avant-garde
approach of Dorantes, the updated traditionalism of Esperanza
Fernández and the sheer dynamic force of Juana Amaya, yesterday
the Mont-de-Marsan festival offered two more facets of the
flamenco universe: the contained, minimalist dance of Javier
Barón, and the flamenco essence of veterans Gaspar de Utrera,
Pepa de Benito and Inés Bacán.
So rigorously free
of commercial artifice,
it approaches surrealism.
Javier Barón's dancing has anything, it's absolute sincerity
on stage. His concept of flamenco is so rigorously free of
commercial artifice, it approaches surrealism. The first impression
is deceiving. In this new work, the first since the death
of his friend, percussionist and dancer Manolo Soler, the
dancer comes on stage without 'dancing' in the strict sense,
and remains motionless, 'waiting for the bus' while one by
one the musicians come on stage and take their places to the
sound of a small, barely audible string instrument. This extreme
minimalism becomes an eloquent declaration in itself, establishing
the ambience of the entire work. Finally the 'bus' arrives
and the group flows naturally into bulerías with the discreet
dancing of Barón who never looks for applause or tries to
startle, but rather moves through his allotted space, conversing
with observers via the movements of his body.
Measured and restrained
with dynamic flashes of great beauty
An instrumental number is then followed by Barón's
alegrías. Having established the pace, he now allows
more energy and projection, still measured and restrained
but with dynamic flashes of great beauty. Soleá por
bulería is in the same line, but there is a slight
acceleration of intensity. In a certain sense Javier Barón
is the male counterpart of dancer Belén Maya: both
artists reject feigned emotion and offer their sincere art
without apology or concessions.
Even those people
who are unfamiliar with these women
know they are witnessing something extremely authentic.
After exactly 60 minutes Barón fulfilled his mission
leaving the audience thrilled and appreciative, all standing
and clamoring for a curtain call. Not a single soul leaves
the café cantante which by day is the Mont-de-Marsan
market, while workers prepare the stage for the second part
of this extremely interesting double bill. “Entre Lebrija
y Utrera” opens with the dramatic presence of two imposing
ladies seated in silence at the front edge of the stage. Pepa
de Benito and Inés Bacán, dressed in black with
huge red shawls take turns singing haunting, heartfelt nanas
and even those people who are unfamiliar with these women,
essentially housewives, know they are witnessing something
Gaspar de Utrera with Antonio Moya
The first 'ay'
penetrates mercilessly to
the very core of all those present.
The women leave the stage and on comes Gaspar de Utrera. Impossible
to be less 'show-biz'. Befuddled and grumbling slightly, he
murmurs something before sitting down next to Antonio Moya
who begins with tientos. And suddenly that miracle of a voice
fills the large space. The first 'ay' penetrates mercilessly
to the very core of all those present with a song form this
singer always endows with great depth, and not one eye dares
glance away. If Gaspar affords such importance to mere tientos,
it's of little use to grope for adjectives to describe the
level of his siguiriyas. That torrent of voice, now tempered
by the wear and tear of time, cuts and moves as none other.
Having given of himself in this way he then serves up a taranto
and ends with an almost symbolic bit of bulerías. That's
Gaspar for you, and God bless his soul.
More than singing,
this is the mystery and the essence.
Inés Bacán returns to the stage to offer an
assortment of malagueñas, not one of her usual cantes
and a bit hard to digest at intervals. A long series of soleá
with Antonio Moya coddling and supporting admirably, and siguiriyas
with jaleo in memory of the singer's brother, guitarist Pedro
Bacán. More than singing, this is the mystery and the
essence. Pepa de Benita wins over the audience with her big
smile and personality to match, por soleá and her characteristic
fandango por soleá. Her cante is neither as primitive
as that of Inés, nor as polished as that of Gaspar
and this trio of voices seems ideal to represent the various
facets of flamenco singing in a very specifically delineated
zone of the Andalusian agricultural heartland..
Pepa de Benito with Inés Bacán
The closing bulerías is a delight, as is only fitting,
considering we're dealing with Utrera and Lebrija. Two young
singers, José Valencia and Pepe de Pura, come on to
join the group, and the charming dance of Pepa de Benito is
the icing on the cake for a night of traditional flamenco
in this small corner of southwestern France.
reviews Mont de Marsan