XV BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA
‘EL INDIANO. Bailes de ida y vuelta’
Text: Estela Zatania
Dance and choreography: David Morales. Collaboration in choreography: Javier Latorre, Úrsula López. Dance: Rosario Toledo (guest artist). Cante: Rocío Bazán, José el Ecijano, Jesús Corbacho. Guitar: Paco Javier Jimeno, Óscar Lagos. Double bass: Manuel Calleja. Piano: Alberto Miras. Percussion: Javi Rubial. Guest artist: Javier Ruibal.
Maybe it’s naive. I’m sure it is. But I always think, if you pay money to go to theater, to sit trapped in a seat for an hour and a half surrounded by complete strangers, and on top of it there’s no place to park and you have to drink the alcohol-free beer, well I don’t know, but I think these are things you do in exchange for having a good time. Even if it’s a Shakespearian tragedy, if there’s no catharsis, the pseudo intellectual and/or political messages belong in conferences and books: the function of art is another.
What I’m trying to say is the “El Indiano” is greater than the sum of its parts. You can tell the main dancer and star of the show is thoroughly absorbed in what he does, but as a dancer, he’s only middling, and his choreographies are somewhat outdated. The singers are merely competent. Guitarist Paco Javier Jimeno however does a fine job, a real pro, and he still clings to that old custom of actually looking at the dancer or singer when they are doing their thing (take note when you go to a show, if the guitarist doesn’t look at the people dancing or singing, he’s playing mental sheet music which cannot be varied). And I can’t find enough words of praise for dancer Rosario Toledo. Aside from technique, and hers is amazing, she has good flamenco instincts and an absolutely original well-defined personality.
“El Indiano” isn’t a perfect show, but the concept works, although some things could be trimmed down, and what’s more important in this Bienal de Flamenco, theater is secondary to dance, guitar and cante, a balance that all to often escapes other directors. The work is based on the premise of a Spaniard who returns from the Americas and gets off the boat in Cádiz to rediscover his country with flavors and memories from across the sea now firmly implanted in his psyche: the flamenco phenomenon known as “ida y vuelta”, or “round-trip”. The new generation defends its (sometimes) dubious fusion with pop music, alleging that flamenco was born of a historic mix of influences, and they’re right, but until now we haven’t seen such a clear representation of that earlier fusion that has now earned its rightful place within the classic repertoire.
David Morales, “El Indiano”, arrives in Puerta Tierra, that thin strip of land that unites the capital city of Cádiz with the “outside” world, the perfect setting for the transformation about to take place. In convincing gaucho get-up, Morales wanders into a dive where music is playing, but his attempts to dance all end up as leaps and spreads typical of Malambo and other dances from the pampas. However, when he takes off the gaucho pants and spurs to reveal normal clothing, he’s able to dance in a flamenco way. It’s a bit obvious perhaps, but he manages to make it work and avoid embarrassing everyone.