XI FESTIVAL FLAMENCO DE OTOÑO
Granada’s Festival Flamenco de Otoño has become a regular, and much-awaited annual winter event in the city. Unfortunately, there are good intentions behind it all, but them seldom materialize. For five days flamenco comes to life in the Isabel la Católica theater in the city center. Pity that it never goes beyond that, a city-oriented festival that has no repercussion at the national or international levels.
This is too far-fetched at this point. Due to a lack of interest on the part of politicians or the public in general, it just isn’t headed in that direction after many great expectations that took shape eleven years ago. That was when the first edition took place, with many ups and downs since then, but at least flamenco of a more or less decent level is offered to flamenco fans. This year’s program is halfway between commercial and classic, with an emphasis on the latter, both in dance and singing. In other words, this was “Flamenco por Derecho”, the title of the festival’s closing offered by Juan Andrés Maya of Granada’s Sacromonte.
He reserved the last two shows of the festival to present, along with his company, a show of the most traditional sort of dancing as it has been practiced for years in the Sacromonte area. Juan Andrés is a dancer of “moments”. An explosion of expressive and figurative emotions, sometimes a little over the top, in a way that is so flamenco, other dancers can well envy his capacity. Far removed from anything avant-garde, his is a dance of temperament, visceral, a rush of powerful dance. In a long bulerías, dancers Raquel Heredia and Vero “La India” relied on movements of the most classical Granada school with momentary crudeness that subtracted more than added. Guest artist Antonio Canales participated in a sort of duel por tangos with Maya, allowing the Granada dancer to come out on top and showing himself to be a bit tame and wishing to let Juan Andrés fly. In a T-shirt and suspenders, seated in a chair, his poses were somewhat unintelligible. This was followed a pas de trois with the inevitable love triangle being acted out.
Canales seemed reclusive and introspective. We are familiar with some portions of this soleá. He changed several closings, but it’s the same as ever, just an older dancer possibly transmitting less with his art, but with a long history of excellence that speaks for itself.
Without a doubt it was in alegrías that Juan Andrés rose to the occasion and was generous with his art. There were reflections of Mario Maya. His movements were a chain of moments of the late genius. He gave it everything he was capable of, and won the final battle. The only problem was the excessive length of this dance.
The previous night, Juan Habichuela (grandson) presented his show “Entre Azahares y Alhelíes”. This boy is unstoppable. No longer so much a boy as an adult, he’s really taking off and his name will soon be on everyone’s lips. With Johnny Cortés and José Parra singing, his guitar went beyond all expectations. Manuel Molina opened the bulerías with references to “Habichuela” the patriarch. Zapateado, granaínas with a brilliant but accelerated tremolo, legatos and picados, bulería por soleá with the violin of Yoshida Maya and the guitar of Pepe Marote, fandangos de Huelva with the voices of Johnny Cortés and José Parra with a distinct Camarón sound, bulerías and rumba. A brilliant recital…Juan, keep up the good work.
Turning the clocks back, Estrella de Granada promised to be flamenca. And she was, although only in the first part of her recital. Colder than usual, possibly because of bad news from Madrid regarding her father (Enrique, get well soon, we need you), she began with alegrías and went from less to more. The guitar of Montoyita backed up the singer from Albayzín, while Kiki’s remained perhaps too much in the background considering the importance of his sister Estrella. In tangos, there were winks and nods to bullfights and Lorca. The best moment was por solea. She recreated cantes of Aurelio, Mojama and Mairena, followed by granaínas and malagueñas. Bulerías with Kiki, Ángel Gabarre and Antonio Carbonell with an assortment of favorite Spanish songs brought Estrella’s performance to a close.
The festival began with Joana Jiménez, a singer of lyrical Spanish song and popular TV personality, with a tribute to Marifé de Triana.