18 April 2024
Dance Entertainment

On the Menu at Flamenco Fest, Custom With a Aspect of Nuttiness

The flamenco dancer Olga Pericet started topless, curled up on the ground like a beached mermaid or a girl recovering from an evening of carousing. Her face was lined by a tightfitting masks with painted-on doll options. Later, she danced with a yellow raincoat over her head. She additionally stood on a bench in a pink marriage ceremony cake of a gown, with guitar-shaped cutouts festooning her arms, posing like a surrealist’s conception of a non secular icon.

Her present, “La Leona,” was as far out as this 12 months’s Flamenco Pageant at New York Metropolis Middle received. And nonetheless, it was rooted within the integrity of custom. The guts of flamenco lies within the impassioned particular person assertion in a communal context, a musical dialog. So what would possibly look like enhancements or expansions — elaborate group choreography, imaginative conceits — danger straying from the emotional core that makes flamenco flamenco. This 12 months’s competition confirmed the dangers and the rewards. If the depth of the dance alternatives was decrease than in some earlier editions, the vary was wider.

The competition didn’t even begin with flamenco. As an alternative, the Ballet Nacional de España started its program on March 8 with “Invocación Bolera,” a contemporary evocation of the 18th-century escuela bolero, which is actually Baroque ballet with Spanish poses and castanets.

This was a welcome swap, and “Invocación” had its charms, displaying off a well-trained and enormous firm. Eighteen dancers in interval apparel stuffed the stage, their castanets including a chattering commentary to neat ballet jumps and turns, making them buzz. The choreography — by Rubén Olmo, the group’s creative director — organized the groupings adroitly.

The same professionalism marked “Eterna Iberia,” by Antonio Najarro, although right here the type was Twentieth-century theatricalized flamenco. Percussive footwork was multiplied in tight unison, teams moved in good-looking strains and circles, castanets trilled and soloists broke out in shows of experience.

Olmo’s “Jauleña,” a shape-shifting solo fantastically danced by Inmaculada Salomón, was extra up to date, mixing in modern-dance angularity. However the largest distinction between all this and Ballet Nacional’s ultimate choice, “De Lo Flamenco,” was musical: a swap to reside flamenco musicians from recorded orchestral compositions. On the Sunday matinee I attended, this variation a minimum of doubled the power.

In any other case, “De Lo Flamenco” — a tribute to the choreographer Mario Maya that gathers collectively a few of his items with related work by others — resembled “Eterna Iberia.” Maya was a grasp of this mode: easily shifting picturesque formations, synchronicity, spectacular soloists. However with the reside, idiomatic music, it was as if the mode had been plugged in and turned on.

Pericet’s “La Leona,” on Friday, benefited from glorious music right through. Guitars, vocals and percussion had been up to date with funky-fusion electrical bass (performed by the virtuosic Juanfe Pérez), however the thrust of Pericet’s experimentation was scenographic.

“La Leona,” or “The Lioness,” refers to its star but additionally to a Nineteenth-century guitar. The present makes an analogy between the physique of a guitar and that of a girl, though Pericet dances in a person’s swimsuit, too. Her earlier exhibits have been equally eccentric in idea and costume, however I’ve typically discovered her dancing to be overly cautious and calculated. Not this time. Taking part in air guitar, Pericet strummed at crotch stage. Declaring “I’m scorching,” she fanned these nether areas.

This was an artist having some enjoyable. The comedy may very well be on the goofy facet of dada, as when the percussionist and vocalist performed rhythms with scissors. And dancing to a flamenco model of Thelonious Monk’s jazz traditional “’Round Midnight,” Pericet strayed unconvincingly into the realm of Twyla Tharp or Bob Fosse. However the general impression was of an artist steeped in custom making an attempt to keep away from boredom. The nuttiness was successful, and the music maintained the integrity. She completed at her most conventional, like Picasso reminding folks he might draw representationally, displaying off her rhythmic play with some rock-star wildness.

The competition’s concluding “Gala Flamenca” is probably the most conventional format: musicians (right here together with the gale-force vocalist Sandra Carrasco) supporting solo dancers. Of the dancers, probably the most improved was Alfonso Losa. He’s now an all-rounder, gorgeously re-sculpting arm positions mid-turn in good pirouettes, delivering rhythmic complexity and shock in footwork each with and with out the addition of a cane. And Miguel Fernández Ribas, referred to as El Yiyo, was probably the most disappointing. Hailed as a brand new star, he was loud, quick and awkward, not but prepared for prime time, not but in a position to command a stage.

Choreographically, the strongest choice was a duet for Losa and Manuel Liñán, who staged the present. Now dealing with off, now mirroring, now facet by facet, the boys conveyed a dueling power that was periodically amped up with tambourines.

Although Paula Comitre’s footwork was muddy, she dealt with the long-tailed bata de cola gown and a fan with uncommon expressivity. Fanning herself in a deep backbend, she evoked melancholic languor. Spinning and spinning with the gown’s tail trailing her, she appeared misplaced, wrapped up in disappointment.

Liñán additionally wore a bata de cola for his climactic solo. Such cross-gender costuming has currently turn into his signature. Dancing the intense kind solea, he spun with sufficient effortful, tornado-like power that I half anticipated to see smoke. Like Pericet, Liñán clearly is aware of the foundations that he’s bending. His concept of custom isn’t lifeless.