8th Festival de Otoño de Granada
Text and photos: Estela Zatania
Dance: Fuensanta “La Moneta”. Cante: Eva Durán. Guitar: Miguel Iglesias, Paco Iglesias, Román Vicenti. Percussion: José Carrasco. Compás: “El Eléctrico”, “El Torombo”. Off-stage cante: Jaime “El Parrón”. Script: Raúl Comba.
The eighth edition of Granada’s Autumn Festival is offering a program of high quality. With home-grown stars like Manolete, Juan Andrés Maya and Fuensanta la Moneta, to say there’s a localist tendency is no insult, but rather cause for celebration, and the Seville group Son de la Frontera is the ideal complement for one of the most interesting festivals of the season’s calendar.
For unknown reasons, Granada flamenco struggles with a certain inferiority complex. Maybe it’s the bad press received by the caves of Sacromonte which years ago, with few exceptions, offered a low-class product. Or maybe the renowned Alhambra dwarfs all other cultural manifestations. What is abundantly clear is that Granada is dance country as shown by great stars like Mario Maya, Manolete or Eva Yerbabuena, even Carmen Amaya, spiritually linked to this area (some claim she was born in or near Granada, although reliable proof has not been found). Granada has also yielded a school of guitar-playing in the Habichuela dynasty and Juan Maya “Marote”, and with a number of fine young singers like Antonio Campos, Marina Heredia, Juan Ángel Tirado or the ill-fated Víctor el Charico, not to mention megastars Enrique and Estrella Morenta, they’re no slackers in the cante department. If Málaga managed to cause a stir with its biennial festival, Granada deserves this modest event, and much much more.
It was precisely in Málaga en Flamenco that “Entre la Luna y los Hombres” premiered last September, one of the “Seven New Productions” chosen for that purpose. So it’s no surprise the work follows the avant-garde line now favored by politicians entrusted with defending Spanish culture in the international arena. At the official level the belief exists, possibly with good reason, that foreign audiences need to receive their flamenco dressed up with theatrical effects and a look which is rigorously contemporary. It’s risky business, because if flamenco’s cliché image is all polkadots and bright colors, the so-called “new flamenco” tends to mistake coldness for sophistication, and incongruous elements are inserted with a heavy hand.
Moneta, more flamenco than ever… subtle, mature
On the one hand “Entre la Luna y los Hombres”, despite some moments of great beauty, is guilty at times of these pitfalls: the overuse of diaphanous curtains, a long film clip that leaves you feeling you’re at home watching TV, or the soundless image of the head of a man apparently in a rage manages to capture your attention without making clear why this precedes the soleá (although the sung line “…the black trail of makeup that runs down your cheek” seems to allude to spousal abuse), are references that force us to search for meaning where perhaps there is none.
On the other hand, the good news is that the extraordinary and dynamic personality of Moneta rights all wrongs. Even having to dance much of the show dressed in a skimpy white undergarment, she manages to find her truth via infallible rhythm, excellent choreographic sense and highly refined flamenco instincts. You could even say she has acquired subtlety that used to be lacking, possibly the result of being subjected to the structure of a script.
Noteworthy is singer Eva Durán whose lovely flamenco voice is the guiding force for a marathon of numbers that includes malagueña and abandolao, guajira, taranta, farruca, soleá and siguiriya with original verses adapted from the poetry of Ángeles Mora and Teresa Gómez. The artistic collaboration of Moneta/Durán is comparable to that of the successful tandem of Mayte Martín and Belén Maya.
The trio of guitars, Miguel and Paco Iglesias and Román Vicenti, is excellent, Lluis Martí’s lighting, intelligent and original. Fuensanta la Moneta, more flamenco than ever, powerful, subtle, mature, closes out the show with siguiriyas in an electric red bata de cola without the fiesta finale the enthusiastic audience longs for.