XV BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA
“Tejidos al tiempo” – Choni Compañía Flamenca
Dance: Asunción Pérez “Choni”, Manuel Cañadas. Cante. Alicia Acuña, Sebastián Cruz. Guitar and hurdy-gurdy: Raúl Cantizano. Percussion: Antonio Montiel. Guest artist: Alejandro Granados. Choreography and artistic manager: Asunción Pérez. Contemporary choreography: Manuel Cañadas.
Texto: Estela Zatania
The show we were unable to see in July in Arcos de la Frontera because of bad weather, was last night presented at the Teatro Alameda in Sevilla, and it was well worth the wait. The title of the work did little to inspire confidence. “Woven in Time” seemed to augur the typical hodge-podge of half-baked symbolism and special effects, with flamenco as mere pretext. Even the program seemed to hold a cloaked warning: “…a very complex work, a reflection on time, life and death”.
Photos: © Archivo Bienal de Flamenco, Luis Castilla
Nowadays when everyone yearns to surprise, to come up with something different, along comes Asunción Pérez “Choni” with novel concepts that really work. The key to success, once again, is reliance on classical flamenco forms. In the same program notes we read: “…a new visual idiom, but radically flamenco”. If others confuse contemporary with cold, and bring out presumptuous, boring and costly shows, here we have a basically simple presentation that is visually rich, expresses clear-headed concepts, is entertaining without being superficial and is extraordinarily flamenco. Siguiriyas, soleá, abandolao, bulería, milonga…user-friendly flamenco with no pseudo intellectual baggage.
The fascinating siguiriyas of Choni, “Woman With Tiara” (Mujer con Diadema), is as simple as long strings of white elastic that look like beams of light uniting the dancer’s clothing to a point high above, turning her into a cross between crowned effigy and marionette. When contemporary dancer Manuel Cañadas arrives with an open umbrella, wearing a bata de cola and carrying scissors which he uses to cut the elastics, you realize you’re on a voyage to the world of surreal flamenco.
Then there’s the clever, well-conceived dance of Choni, half man, half woman, like those old cabaret numbers, caressing, falling in love with herself, convincing us of her spiritual hermaphroditism. And the wonderful surprise provided by Raúl Cantizano who plays the hurdy-gurdy as well as the guitar, producing irresistibly oriental-sounding flamenco music. The singers, a man and a woman, Sebastián Cruz and Alicia Acuña, oddly enough have the same vocal register, and are mutually complementary.
Alejandro Granados is a living miracle of dance, a force of nature, but not in the sense of footwork or velocity of any kind. In fact, I’ve never seen any dancer move less, and when he does, it’s always to say something. A slight tilt of the head, a fingertip, a look, a sigh…originality within the most rigorously traditional lines, mysterious silences, retro details transformed into futuristic, brilliant subtlety and the timelessness of the compás that governs all. When Alejandro dances, flamenco becomes moreso.
If there aren’t enough shows of this quality to fill up the Bienal, then perhaps the organization should consider shortening the program.