XVI BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA
“BAILAR VIVIR, Suite flamenca para bailaora y compañía” La Moneta y compañía
Director, choreography and script: La Moneta. Choreography for Aires a ritmos: La Moneta and Raimundo Benítez. Music: Miguel Iglesias. Dance: La Moneta, Raimundo Benítez, José Galán, David Córdoba. Guitar: Miguel Iglesias, Paco Iglesias. Cante: David Sánchez “El Galli”, Miguel Lavi. Percussion: Miguel El Cheyenne. Piano (guest artist): Diego Amador.
After winning the first prize in dance at the La Unión contest in 2003, Granada dancer Fuensanta “La Moneta” has gone through several artistic reincarnations, as is only natural for her age. The first years, feeling too young to head a company of her own, she worked in those of others and went nearly unnoticed. Soon afterwards she began to awaken the interest of followers of traditional flamenco dance with her admirable appearances in several large festival such as the Reunión de Cante Jondo de La Puebla de Cazalla and the Jueves Flamenco at the Cádiz Baluarte. She went on to experiment with a contemporary work with social comment that left little room for her temperamental style, and she returned to the more traditional line that she handles better. A brief collaboration with Rafael Estévez was an important event in the recent history of dance, but for reasons known only to the people who make decisions about such things, the partnership was dropped.
Now she’s back with her debut work “Bailar, Vivir, Suite Flamenca para Bailaora y Compañía” that has a little bit of everything; these are not times to be taking possibly costly risks. I have to point out that due to reasons beyond my control and will (the show began very late further shortening the little time organizers left between shows), I had to miss what was possibly the best part of the show, Moneta’s soleá. So I can only offer the observations below based on what I did see during the first hour and a quarter.
Right here and now I want to underline that the guitar-playing of the Iglesias brothers, Miguel and Paco, and the singing of David el Galli and Miguel Lavi (I can never understand why some Jerez singers are ignored by their own town) were excellent in every way. Unfortunately the same could not be said about the trio of male dancers. Two relatively large men with a somewhat retro style, and one slight gentlemen who was more up-to-date – no big deal, but then don’t put them together on stage dancing the same steps, it’s an aesthetic destined to failure.
Diego Amador accompanied his own singing on piano, and together with the dancer they deconstructed tangos. A Caracol zambra danced by Moneta also offered a change of pace. The two singers traded off fandangos, and afterwards, the San Miguel-style voice of Lavi earned cheers of “ole!” when he prologued with his singing the soleá that I was unfortunately unable to see the rest of.
As far as Moneta, her innate Sacromonte temperament that serves her so well for flamenco, is out of place in contemporary dance such as the opening number. A short feminist pantomime that followed also had little coherence with the rest of the work. One thing is contrasts, so necessary in any show, another is a complete personality transplant. In any case, audiences seem to be a little fed up with overly conceptual work, and there is hunger for updated traditional dance which is what Moneta does best. Her taranto dance, dressed as an old.-style gypsy with an apron and a branch of rosemary in her hair, and ending with tangos that Granada people manage so well, made it worthwhile to have been at the Lope de Vega theater this night.
“AN CA’ PAULA” Manuel de Paula
Text: Estela Zatania
Idea, music, dirección and cante: Manuel de Paula. Cante: José Valencia, Anabel Valencia, Juan Muruba, Manuela Jero. Guitar: Paco Cortés, José Luis Medina. Dance: Manuela Ríos, Ramón Martínez. Palmas and dance: Juan Diego Valencia, Manuel Valencia.
A police barricade on the opposite side of the river made it impossible to get to the Teatro Central for the next show except on foot. In other words, very late. For this reason, again, I can only comment on what I saw of the work “An ca’ Paula”, a celebration of the flamenco of Lebrija and of one of the town’s most celebrated singers.
Manuel de Paula recorded for the first time in the nineteen-seventies, but never became a major figure as many of us had hoped. Cousin of Curro Malena, and son of el Caneco, the latter told me years ago that his son had learned to sing listening to elders out in the fields and in family gatherings. In other words, he is not a product of tapes and CDs, nor anything remotely similar. Personality, knowledge and lineage give him that indefinable edge of authenticity that causes flamenco fans to overlook possible technical shortcomings.
This lovingly mounted show is about flavors and essence, all taking place around the typical wooden table, something quotidian for those of us who circulate daily in flamenco, but an exquisite privilege for those who don’t. The indispensable cantiñas of Pinini have their rightful moment in the spotlight – as occurs with alegrías de Cádiz, native interpreters give added sparkle, and Manuela Ríos does a great job with the dancing.
Patriarch Manuel sings tangos, and the rest of the group responds with a repeated chorus of la Repompa…Málaga is far away, but cante unites. Bulerías, does it not go without saying? You miss Miguel Funi who is announced in the program, and it’s even possible he appeared before I arrived, but I don’t think so. José Valencia was impressive as always, but his cousin Anabel was a discovery for many. She worked everyone up into a froth with her bulerías cuplés; having seen her several times in recital, I attest to the fact that her knowledge of cante runs deep.
The program was rounded off with Manuel de Paula por siguiriyas and corresponding dance by one of the men, as well as a Lebrija version of alboreá, so close to the ‘romances’ associated with this part of the flamenco geography.