|Daily coverage BIENAL
DE FLAMENCO sponsored by:
Text : Estela Zatania
Photos: Manny Rocca
Dance: Israel Galván. Guitar: Alfredo Lagos. Cante:
José Anillo. Percusión: Isaac Vigueras. Palmas: “Bobote”,
“Eléctrico”. Gaita del Gastor: Mercedes Bernal.
Guest artists: Enrique Morente, Diego Carrasco, Miguel Poveda, Diego
Amador. Percussion quartet of the OJA. Banda Los Sones.
From the superficial world of Broadway to the “altered
states” of Israel Galván – there’s something
for everyone, and then some, in this Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla.
The libretto of “Arena”, quite a bit longer than this
review in fact, contains a sentence that would seem to contradict
such length: “A dancer must never think about what he or she
is dancing”. So it would seem advisable to ignore the convoluted
text and discuss the show itself.
Two undeniable and glaring facts are to be dealt with: the work
has to do with bullfighting, and Israel Galván is a genius.
Beyond that it all becomes somewhat murky with images and references
that defy our capacity to react without analyzing, or in some cases,
to forgive the excesses of a prodigious mind.
Galván is the only dancer in the show which is decidedly
not short, nor is there any intermission. At the start, when the
lights have dimmed and we are all enveloped in darkness and the
silence is broken only by the occasional nervous cough, there is
a long period before the absence of sensory stimulus is alleviated
by the first projected images of Enrique Morente singing, with Israel
Galván sitting next to him, presumably viewing a bullfight,
an interlude which is repeated between numbers. That opening delay,
which is not the result of poor preparation, makes us just uncomfortable
enough, and alienates us just enough – it’s not that
time stands still but rather becomes deformed like a melting watch
painted by Dalí, and this state of altered awareness is cultivated
throughout the work.
Risk-taking, bravery and simply being
outlandish are what this dancer is about
Israel doesn’t just dance. Israel philosophizes, surprises,
confuses, provokes… It would be hard to call what he offers “entertainment”
– it’s more like intellectual and spiritual nourishment.
Or at least that appears to be the goal, although the results are
inconsistent. The dancer likes to interact, even dance with the
props. A rocking-chair is his partner for one dance…the object
is overturned, loved, feared and assaulted to be become a raging
bull, lover, executioner… In another dance a wooden bullfighter’s
shelter becomes the immobile partner and apt receiver of the dancer’s
head-butts and kicking.
Risk-taking, bravery and simply being outlandish are what this
dancer is about, but he doesn’t always pull it off, and some
parts are confusing, incoherent or just plain boring. Other things
are surprising: alegrías with a classic beginning is repeatedly
interrupted by the acrid dissonance of primitive bagpipes of Gastor,
an old traditional folk instrument, but somehow it works and no
one asks why, just as it should be. A corny dance combo from another
age plays pasodoble and Galván dances atop a metallic table
with metal appendages on his shoes that make him look like an Iberian
Flash Gordon, and this produces the odd sound of metal upon metal.
For sevillanas he stands stock still in an odd humped posture listening
to the music and not moving but for the occasional sudden outburst.
The nearly total absence of flamenco references, most noticeably
compás, becomes tiresome, and the appearance of Diego Carrasco
with the non-stop bulerías soundtrack that runs in his head
is a relief without which the show would have been excessively cerebral
and heavy-going. The recorded sound of thousands of voices shouting
“ole!” at a bullfight provides a hypnotic drone and
singers José Anillo and Miguel Poveda clear the charged air
like aerosol freshener. In addition to the aforementioned guest
artists, there are noteworthy appearances by pianist Diego Amador
and guitarist Alfredo Lagos.