Photos: Nikolai Shabalin
Flamenco firms up its presence in the world capital of dance
The year 2014 has represented the consolidation of the Festival Flamenco in Saint Petersburg, with the collaboration of Deflamenco.com, Belén Maya, Sara Calero and Dorantes with Leonor Leal managing to attract the Russian audience and be worthy of long, enthusiastic applause – the Russian custom is to clap in unison when something has been enjoyed – at the Finlandsky Concert Hall.
Belén Maya, who kicked off with the opening show, came with all the expectation of dancing in the world capital of classic dance. José Anillo enthralled the audience with his very flamenco voice, as did Rafael Rodríguez with his guitar, and whose “zambra gitana” earned him warm applause halfway through the show. Laura González and Vanesa Montero were able to shine with their dancing, although their main function in the show was to mark the rhythm with their palmas. Belén Maya danced with a bata de cola and shawl, but the most spectacular moment was the tribute to her father, the great Mario Maya, with the recreation of the his famous martinete dance interpreted seated in a chair. That was without a doubt the most spectacular moment of the show, causing one of the most important dancers in Russia, Vera Arzubova, choreographer and ex first dancer of the Teatro Mikhailovsky (one of the major references in the dance world), to go backstage to personally meet and congratulate the dancer when the show was over.
Belén Maya put the most flamenco touch to the festival with her three decades dedicated to the most avant-garde type of flamenco dance. She brought her most traditional repertoire, within her very personal style, always characterized by a good dose of gracefulness, freshness and originality.
We're saying that Belén put the most flamenco touch because the festival organization wanted the Russian audience to see that other branch of our most representative dance culture which is Spanish classical. Sara Calero is today the most talented representative soloist in this aesthetic line that joins flamenco dance with Spanish classical. Sara brought her show “El Mirar de la Maja” to St. Petersburg, a show that earned her the prize for Best Newcomer in the last Festival de Jerez (the most important festival in the world devoted to Spanish and flamenco dance). The St. Petersburg audience got the message and showed their appreciation, not only with their spontaneous shouts of “bravo!” in the middle of the show, but with the enthusiastic final ovation and the affection expressed in the traditional encounter of artists and audience that the festival organization sets up in all the activities of the program.
The most contemporary offering came the third day of the festival, on Saturday the 19th with the performance of Dorantes and Leonor Leal, and the prodigious percussion of Javier Ruibal. David Peña played a selection of some of his most noteworthy compositions to which Leonor Leal was able to give a special interpretation with her fresh, up-to-date dancing, with perfect execution and largely supported by improvisation. Dorantes musical imagination was highlighted and enhanced by the precise, efficient, intelligent and of course artistic work of Ruibal. Between the three of them, they created a unique atmosphere that enthralled the audience that nearly filled every seat. The presence of Dorantes in St. Petersburg stirred quite a lot of expectation, and after the encounter with the audience, they descended upon him and his group demanding they return to the stage, and requesting the customary autographs.
Among the numerous followers of our culture, Spanish students and tourists who speak our language perfectly, the most-heard comment was that it had been a true luxury for this city to have been able to enjoy the presence of these artists, and not only on stage, because painter Patricio Hidalgo Morán was very present throughout this festival since his exhibition at the Biblioteka, an important venue on Nevsky Avenue Prospeckt (the city's main artery), will be on view throughout the end of October. In addition, his video creation “Solo Trazos”, inspired in the dancing of Mario Maya, was very well received, both at the Biblioteka and in the Centro de Lengua y Cultura Española Adelante, where before the the screening, journalist Manuel Moraga of Radio Exterior de España, gave a talk in honor of the great master of dance. Also noteworthy was the success of documentary screenings “Flamenco de Raí” (Vicente Pérez Herrero) and “Francisco Sánchez. Paco de Lucía” (Daniel Hernández and Jesús de Diego).
The Flamenco Festival in St. Petersburg Russia 2014 is an initiative of the producer company Endirecto FT and the Asociación Flamenco en el Mundo, whose associated producers in Russia are the afore-mentioned Adelante Center and the Center for Spanish Dance and Culture in Dorade @, the most prestigious dance school in St. Petersburg. This event also has the support of the Festival de Jerez and Marca España, in addition to the backing of the major Spanish authorities related to the promotion of flamenco: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (through INAEM and the Minister of Culture), the Instituto Andaluz del Flamenco, the Spanish Embassy in Russia and the Moscow Cervantes Institute. This medium, Deflamenco.com, is also a partner of the Festival.