Israel Galván
Biography and readers' comments



“I feel really at ease with risk”


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 'Arena'
(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 francesa’?

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 new Pastora 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 itself?

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 most comfortable.

Israel Galván at Seville's Casino de la Exposición
(Photo: Daniel Muñoz)

Further information:

Seville’s 2006 Bienal de Flamenco. Pastora Galván, ‘La francesa’. Review, photos and online video

Seville’s 2006 Bienal de Flamenco. Israel Galván, ‘Tabula rasa’. Review, photos and online video

Interview with Israel Galván, bailaor (March 2002)

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