SARA BARAS “La Pepa”
Gran Teatro Falla. March 19th, 2012. Cádiz
Text: Ernesto Novales
“La Pepa” again triumphs in Cadiz
Director, script and choreography: Sara Baras. Music director: Keko Baldomero. Lighting: Óscar Marchena, J. Luis Alegre, Sara Baras. Staging: Ras Artesanos. Wardrobe: Torres-Cosano. Dancers: Sara Baras and José Serrano (guest artist). Corps de ballet: Carmen Camacho, Charo Pedraja, Cristina Aldón, Isabel Ramírez, Mararena Rodríguez, Mª Jesús García, Natalia López, Tamara Macías, Alejandro Rodríguez, Daniel Saltares, David Martín, Manuel Ramírez Raúl Fernández. Rehearsals: Mª Jesús García. Guitar: Keko Baldomero, Miguel Iglesias. Cante: Saul Quirós, Emilio Florido, Miguel Rosendo. Percussion: Antonio Suárez, Manuel Muñoz 'Pájaro'.
After a two-year maternity leave of absence, Sara Baras has returned to once more delight audiences. And the comeback was in her hometown with a revamped company, personifying the spirit of that great landmark which was the Constitution of 1812 on the day of its 200th anniversary. Lots of reasons to attend one of the flamenco events of the year that was exclusively reserved for guests, the media and protocol for its world premiere.
The main doubt I had upon entering the Gran Teatro Falla was: what Sara would be the one to return to the stage? How would the sabbatical leave and motherhood affect her dancing? Would we see a more introspective or serene performer? Perhaps somewhat diminished in her technical virtuosity? The answer, in short, is that the Sara Baras who has just arrived is exactly the same one who left us two years ago. With a tremendous desire to dance and to devour the theater, she proved that she’s still at the height of her physical abilities, that her feet are still the most spectacular of the flamenco scene and that she possesses an inner strength and charisma that allows her to connect easily with the audience. She has a special gift for directing a dance company with absolute discipline. Her discourse is more outward, directed towards the overall effect, than to deep soul-searching. And as always, the show is meticulously presented.
“La Pepa” depicts the reality of Spain two-hundred years ago, taking refuge in Cadiz to resist the French invasion and dreaming of a world in which freedom would reign. Beginning with the horrors of the War of Independence, the show begins with dancers swept along by chaos and suffering expressed via a martial martinete. Then appears Sara Baras, a soothing salve to calm the pain of wounds, and a sanctuary for the hopeless. She transcends the tragedy of the moment pulling off a black overcoat to reveal the exuberance of a red dress and, with a suggestive waltz, transports us to the oasis which is Cadiz. There, with tanguillos, we see the incessant activity of the port and the gay lively temperament of its people, the tremendous sensuality of its women though guajira and the intense activity of the men with zapateado. Sara then returns with siguiriyas to offer us one of the most moving moments of “La Pepa”.
We then enter the Parliament where the lawmakers are debating to the rhythm of buleria por solea. Each dancer/deputy does a solo bit while the rest keep rhythm. Of course it’s La Pepa, with her tremendous powers of seduction, who manages to put things in order and everyone agrees to the new Constitution. Malagueňa del Mellizo, a style with certain liturgical influences, sets the tone for the solemn act of ratification and, finally, we are witness to the promulgation of the document. This is represented by Jose Serrano with a farruca that is choreographically interesting, though long and excessive in the use of footwork.
And in this way we reach the end of the work. The main artist’s off-stage voice tells us what the Pepa means to her: “…voice of the people in the form of a woman, the breath of freedom”. Sara Baras appears as a statue on a pedestal in what is the most representative image of the show. To the compas of alegrias the statue comes to life and dances ecstatically. Historic ecstasy resulting from having achieved the new Constitution, and personal ecstasy from having reconnected with her audience. This explains the outpouring of energy in her last dance that ended with some extraordinary bulerias.