Escenario Puerta del Ángel – Veranos de la Villa – Madrid
Text: Manuel Moraga
A New Generation
It couldn’t have been a more appropriate venue for Madrid. The Puerta del Ángel is located right in the Casa de Campo. To the left is one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital, with the Almudena and the Palacio Real illuminated in the background. With suffocating heat, the show Flamenco Hoy debuted, one of the most awaited presentations of the year.
There are short works that seem eternal, and lengthy ones that go by in the blink of an eye. “Flamenco Hoy” is of the latter sort. It takes two hours for Carlos Saura to express his vision of flamenco in the 21st century. Twenty pieces to represent this art and everything that surrounds it. The idea and the visual aesthetic is similar to that of the film Saura devoted to flamenco in the middle of the nineties: light is one of the players, clean simple images, the use of large surfaces, shadows, silhouettes, sobriety… He creates an entire flamenco universe, from the dance class up to jazz fusion, passing though Spanish lyrical song, processional marches and the Spanish two-step known as pasodoble. And of course, flamenco, showing a very varied repertoire: tangos de Granada, Jerez, Triana… Cantiñas and bulerías also from different areas, malagueña, siguiriya, farruca, guajira, etc.
The choreography by Nani Paños and Rafael Estévez, is very interesting. They try to catch the spirit of each style with originality and necessary brevity, because one of the chief virtues of this show is precisely the way time is administered; the dances are brief but intense. It could be argued that to deprive a style of its internal development, is to make it banal, but in this case, the concept of the work demands brevity in each of its parts. It takes narrative work and special care with the pacing. This is one of the secrets to how two hours of Flamenco Hoy manage to keep the viewer’s interest at every turn.
The large stage is efficiently utilized. Lighting by Paco Belda is a work of art, with excellent gradients that coherently and beautifully create spaces and atmospheres. Some of the staging and lighting effects, such as the creation of a suggestive square area in which the dancers’ movements become blurry (possibly overdone, if truth be told), and are only seen as outlines, which are, after all, the visual essence. In this sense, the staging by Laura Martínez is noteworthy.
Another of the show’s strong points is the music, both of Chano Domínguez and Antonio Rey. But in addition to these two, there are some top-notch artists such as Piraña (who artfully manages most of the percussion work), Marina Albero (adding an oriental touch with her book of psalms) and of course, all the singers.
If in the mid-nineties Carlos Saura made his film a broad portrait of the flamenco of that time (Belén Maya, Agujetas, Manzanita, Matilde Coral, etc.), in this show he offers a rich representation of the present and future of flamenco. It’s the family snapshot of a new generation of artists with lots of talent. This is a two-sided circumstance: thanks to Flamenco Hoy, a work designed for the general public, make no mistake, these young people will be able to demonstrate their tremendous potential on stage before the world. In this sense the work of Carlos Saura in support of flamenco has always been exemplary. The sad thing is precisely that performers such as Concha Jareño, Blas Córdoba, Jesús Méndez, Israel, Jonatan Miró, Adrián Santana, David Coria, Andoitz Rubial, etc, don’t have much chance of expressing themselves and being recognized via their day to day work in their own projects.
And lastly, it must be noted that a production of this nature doesn’t come cheap….and it’s not. But it’s a worthwhile show that will please both insiders and casual fans.