FESTIVAL DE FLAMENCO DE NIMES
Text: Estela Zatania
Dance: Rafaela Carrasco, Ricardo López, José Maldonado, Jonatan Miron, David Coria. Voice: Antonio Campos, Gema Caballero. Guitar: Jesús Torres, Juan Antonio Suárez “Canito”. Piano: Pablo Maldonado. Cello: José Luis López.
The Nimes Festival is heading for the final stretch. Despite some adventures along the way, the three “Mujerez” tonight will leave no doubt about the importance of women singers, and we still have Diego Carrasco and Navajita Plateá afterwards. The interesting program of conferences yesterday included the subject of flamenco dance in the cinema, and today we will have Cristina Cruces speaking about women in flamenco. Also within the program of parallel activities, our photographer Ana Palma is exhibiting her work via nighttime projection upon the wall of the historical Maison Carrée.
The program of performances at the theater last night included Rafaela Carrasco with her work “Vamos al Tiroteo”. Having seen it before in the 19th Bienal de Sevilla in 2008, I settled into my seat determined to keep an open mind no matter what. If on that occasion I was unable to detect any flamenco feeling or warmth, it must have been because I was saturated with the more than forty shows I had to see and review, or because of other deficiencies that were mine alone.
There’s nothing more difficult for a critic than having to review a show that was less than satisfying. So please take pity on me as I try to explain, from a standpoint of maximum honesty and objectivity, why once again I’m unable to say positive things about this show.
First of all, I must point out that everyone else seemed to like it quite a lot. So I ask myself: why must I attend some shows with the conscious objective of trying to enjoy them, when with others I simply take my seat, sit back and let the emotions flow? I don’t have the answer, but I realize I need to get down to specifics.
Point number one: there is no cante in this work. There are vocals, Lorca songs and two excellent singers, Antonio Campos and Gema Caballero. The former does all that is humanly possibly to add some kind of warmth with his rich flamenco voice, and the latter contributes her fascinatingly sweet interpretations as she leans on the piano of the fine musician Pablo Maldonado. Now and again the melancholic sound of the cello of José Luis López gives the melody of what might be cante. But there is no cante.
Point number two. The obsessive foot-tapping of Rafaela which never lets up is annoying to say the least. This is a dancer who certainly knows how to move, but she prefers not to do so without punctuating her movements with footwork.
Point number three. There are no recognizable flamenco rhythms. There is free-form music and there are measures of threes and twos which nearly insinuate bulerías or tangos, without actually becoming either. In fact, there is a constant disconnection between the music and the dance that must be intentional.
Classic sevillanas danced by four men in batas de cola brought some life into the show and stirred the audience to react.
I must once again accept the blame for seeking elements there is clearly no intention of deploying. If there is no warmth, it is because Rafaela Carrasco seeks coldness and austerity, possibly as a contemporary declaration. If there is no cante, it must be because she finds it unseemly or simply because it doesn’t take her to the desired destination. If the work projects a depressing darkness, it must be because the message is intentionally dark. And if the habitual energy of flamenco is absent, it is because Rafaela, who takes credit as artistic director and choreographer, wants it that way.