Juan Andrés Maya
Text and photos: Antonio Conde
Juan Andrés Maya is currently the most authentic representative of flamenco in Granada. You see his name in most flamenco happenings in this city, along with that of Iván Vargas and Jara Heredia…the family is always close at hand. He’s full of ideas, and he just as soon wears boots to dance with Canales, as Miguel Poveda is singing soleá for him. His personality allows him to experiment in areas not directly related to flamenco such as when he puts on the guise of an actor and dresses in a tunic.
And that’s just what he did. In order to go to this show, you had to wear glasses which were not looking for flamenco. This was the dancer’s personal vision of The Passion, the last days of Christ. Because flamenco-wise there was very very little. Although he had already warned us ahead of time. It’s a different kind of work in which theater takes precedence over flamenco. Nevertheless, he is flamenco, like it or not.
The story begins on Palm Sunday with Christ’s (Juan Andrés’) entrance in Jerusalem. Brief flamenco moments quickly come and go to make way for the play. More than thirty individuals made up the rest of the cast throughout the night, playing everything from citizens to followers to apostles. The various scenes depicted the last supper, the capture in the olive grove, etc…
Ivan Vargas, outstanding in his dancing as well as his interpretation of Judas, added dimension to the presentation, and the Granada Orchestra did a fine job providing appropriate music. Manuel Font de Anta’s “Amargura” sounded when Barrabas was liberated while Juan Andrés as Christ was crucified. If anything is noteworthy in this work, it is the straightforward way in which the story is presented. A sort of realism that took people by surprise such as when the star dancer appeared to receive an actual whipping.
From the rear of the theater he appeared bearing the cross and chaperoned by two guards who continued to whip him without mercy. The staging added yet more realism to the story, and the wardrobe was superb. The cross on which Maya was “crucified” was well over fifteen feet, and there he remained for quite some time. At this point, and again adding a flamenco touch to the story, we could hear the “saeta” of Joan Manuel Serrat in the version popularized by Camarón de la Isla.
A story more than known to everyone, but dealt with from a different perspective. It’s hard to tell if Juan Andrés intended to highlight the theatrical angle, or present flamenco and theater in harmony. In any case, the small flamenco bits at the beginning, and Ivan’s dance were simply not enough for those of us who wanted to see some dancing. Even so, it was an excellent presentation which as a theater experience could not have been better.