XVI BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA
Text: Estela Zatania
Dance, music, lyrics, choreography and director: Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya “Farruquito”. Dance: Irene Bassin la Sentío, Salomé Ramírez, Gema Moneo, Saray Cortés. Cante: Pedro Heredia el Granaíno, Antonio Zúñiga, Mara Rey, Fabiola Pérez. Guitar: Antonio Rey, Román Vicente. Piano: Jaime Calabuig “Jumitus”. Bass: Alaín Pérez. Percussion: Isidro Suárez, Antonio Moreno “Pollito”.
In the darkness of a theater, alone and distracted, thoughts come into your head. Some of them, almost infantile. Farruquito as Samson, when Delilah cuts off his hair. Farruquito as the little man behind the curtain at the end of the Wizard of Oz. Images that seemed to represent the Seville dancer’s poor showing last night with his new work “Sonerías”. Missing was the electric charge that normally runs through everything he does and with which he has spoiled us over the years. Instead, we were offered what in my opinion was a weak and disappointing work.-
Some people left the theater saying it wasn’t “pure”. I don’t know if that’s an appropriate term to describe this family’s style of dance. It’s a line that was practically invented by the grandfather; “purity” of intent perhaps. But something very real, powerful, eloquent and extremely flamenco which did not materialize throughout the more than 90 minutes of the show, was the element whose absence was most sorely noticed. Farruquito has gone “normal” on us.
First problem: a technically weak work, poorly carried out in almost every way imaginable, with a hackneyed story line. Fans, rumbas and superficiality fit only for the most undemanding theater-goer.
Second problem: Farruquito, who continues to be (make no mistake) the best and most spectacular flamenco dancer of the current scene, hardly danced. A few of his catchy combinations, brief and disconnected, weren’t even enough to be considered an appetizer. Just when you would think “now he’s really going to dance”, again and again he would pull off one short bit and retire to the bar of the imaginary Cuban watering-hole that was the stage set and premise.
Third problem: Four female dancers who could best be described as Farruquito clones in need of rehearsal.
Fourth problem: Little cante, and an unforgivable overload of bolero and non-flamenco music, not fusion but interpreted in its own “purity”, not apt for flamenco-followers in a Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla.
Somehow, “Sonerías” feels like the cynical declaration “you want fusion?…okay, here’s your fusion!” It’s not annoying when Farruquito plays the guitar or sings, but these are moments that could have been presented in a much better way, and which end up being as meaningless as the rest of the work.
Lots of four-quarter time compás, and a dearth of amalgam or 12-count which is the vehicle that best transports the genius of the Farruco family. Lots of filling-in and time-killing. Little discipline, something that we perhaps tolerate too often in other companies, but which cannot be forgiven in this one.
Palpable was the frustration of an audience that had come for its regular dose of gypsy flamenco, and which was dangerously close to booing. A few aggressive shouts of “Hey man, let’s get on with the dancing!” did ring out, but the artist’s presence, and the hope that something meaty would materialize kept the audience at bay.
To have put the spectacular talent of Farruquito at the service of this kind of show, is the equivalent of hiring Plácido Domingo to call out the numbers of the Christmas lottery. The image of Juan Manuel Fernández “Farruquito”, like a cheesy Las Vegas showman, cajoling the audience in the Maestranza to clap along to one of the numbers, is the unseemly memory I have of this ill-fated show. What would grandfather Farruco have said about such a lack of dignity?
“AIRES DE LEVANTE” – Rocío Segura
Text: Estela Zatania
At the downscale Teatro Alameda which is featuring young hopefuls, it was the night of Almería, or actually, or a singer from Almería: Rocío Segura.
It’s hard to understand how, after winning the Lámpara Minera of the Festival de La Unión ten years ago, this woman has circulated so little and now comes to the Bienal de Sevilla with the aim of becoming known. It speaks poorly of the prize in general, or of the singer herself, or perhaps of a system that favors big stars and has little room for lower-level artists who may have something valuable to contribute.
Dressed very flamenco in a dress of bright red with big white polkadots, she begin with soleá, nervous and with her throat closed up. She relentlessly sought out the Estrella Morente sound, and did some unpleasant shouting in several styles of soleá from the interior that are usually sung in a low register. With malagueña de Mellizo ended with abandolao, and then, alegrías, the lady gradually settled down and got it together.
Antonio Patrocinio Hijo, and especially Manuel Herrera on guitar, offered excellent accompaniment and some entertaining details such at the alternation of lightning-fast picado (similar to what Paco does with his second guitar). With mining cante, finally the voice of Rocío Segura became more…”segura”, sure, and once again she took us to abandolao for finish. She continued to doggedly hunt down the secret of Estrella’s warbling, and even imitated some of her body language.
The recital degenerated with a guitar solo of little interest, and the incorporation of a keyboard (Juan Antonio Sánchez) which allowed Rocío to show off her lyrical voice passed through the sieve of flamenco.