Israel Galván, flamenco bailaor. Interview
“If I didn’t
keep on telling a truth of mine,
I couldn’t dance anymore”
Silvia Calado. Seville, October 2006
The avant-garde, up front. Israel
Galván starred in the start of Seville’s
2006 Bienal de Flamenco with an unusual triple play. The Sevillian
bailaor, the latest National Dance Prize winner, recovered
‘Arena’ and ‘Tabula rasa’, but he
also premiered as a choreographer and creator by assignment.
Stemming from that new facet was ‘La francesa’,
a show with which he’s “tried to open a new road
for Pastora Galván, for her not to be just another
one”. And in fact, he managed to do so. At the same
time, Israel Galván’s road moves along, which
more than new, is unique. He’s already thinking about
new challenges, but he’ll develop them little by little.
It’s all a question of truth and risk: “The moment
I find myself cornered is when I feel most comfortable”.
Israel Galván on
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)
What does it feel like to have three chances at Bienal
de Sevilla 2006?
At first I didn’t think it was so unusual; I thought
it was something normal. But as I’ve been asked about
it, I’ve started to realize, the day before, that it’s
a really great responsibility. At any rate, the three of them
are very different – I dance in two of them myself –
and I think the different concepts are going to be understood.
I think it’s a challenge and this week can turn out
really well or people can get tired. After ‘Tabula
rasa’, the next one to come is going to be a hit.
After seeing me dance so much, the crowd’s going to
be grateful for a change of pace, ha ha ha ha.
What role does Israel Galván play in ‘La
As a choreographer, I’ve tried to give power to the
things she already has and go a little bit further with her.
I think when it’s seen complete, it’s going to
be a surprise. I think the audience is going to discover a
Galván. That doesn’t mean she dances like
me, but like a new woman, which is what I’ve aimed for.
There are a lot of bailaoras who dance really well; nowadays
there are some incredible bailaoras. It’s always nice
for there to be variety and what I’ve tried to do with
her is have her bring out a really strong personality so that
she can go along on her own and not have to be equal to any
style, any way of dancing; some more flamenco, others more
modern. What I’ve tried to do is open a new road for
her, for her not to be just another one.
Don’t you two fear comparisons?
On seeing the general rehearsal, different women, different
states of mind in her are starting to be discovered. Some
of them will obviously be better accepted by people, and in
others they’ll see something wilder, beastlier. At any
rate, it isn’t a competition, it’s a show; and
one part of the show is to keep the crowd surprised. And I’ve
tried for besides her being seen dancing, for the script and
things that happen to keep people on their toes as far as
what she does. I didn’t do it to surprise people, but
to start off with what she has inside.
Pastora Galván on
'La Francesa' (Photo: Daniel Muñoz) |
What would you highlight about Pastora Galván
as an artist?
I think she was needed... I think you can see my sister as
a Lola Flores or a María Jiménez, but with technique.
I don’t mean that María Jiménez doesn’t
have technique; she must have it, but that everything bailaoras
normally keep inside at intimate moments, bring it out on
stage and set it forth in the shape of a choreography, for
it not to simply end up as a ‘little kick’. In
the second one where you see a finish por tangos and bulerías,
which is really radical, get the most out of that. I don’t
know; we’ll see.
Isn’t there anything more radical than flamenco
We’re unique in flamenco. Dance? Every country has
companies. I think that over time, flamenco has been able
to take things out of context and examine them further. And
it turns out more truthful. All good things always turn out
well, but flamenco has the ease of having an effect in itself
without adding anything to it. With a bailaor, a guitar and
a cantaor, that’s it. With a seguiriya, for example,
you’re already giving people pictures, you’re
already telling them things. If besides that you give it more
power or the context is changed, it takes a lot of shapes
which still haven’t been exploited; the primary effect
is stronger. Flamenco might not be surprising at all twenty
or thirty years from now, but right now it keeps on surprising.
And in ‘Tabula rasa’ that “primary
effect” reaches its limit...
Yeah, I think the show still has to keep on moving forward;
we’ve only done two performances. I think the more it’s
done, the more you learn in the silence. It’s good for
people to see just one person dancing. You see the flaws;
you see what it is in itself more. We always want to decorate
everything for it to be pretty. From time to time, the bailaor
can be seen really alone and pulling things out of nowhere.
Has this work been as hard as it looks from the outside?
When you get involved in these things, the truth is that
later you regret it. Why do I get involved in these messes?
But I think that if I didn’t keep on telling a truth
of mine, I couldn’t dance anymore. The truth is that
then I feel really at ease with risk. If it’s all put
together and it’s perfect for you to be a hit, I’d
go down. The moment I find myself cornered is when I feel
Israel Galván at Seville's
Casino de la Exposición
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)