OLGA PERICET, FLAMENCO BAILAORA. INTERVIEW

“Now what’s most contemporary lies in what’s most flamenco”

Silvia Calado. Madrid, January 2011

 

Visible. Invisible. Solitude. Company. Behind. In front. Around. In the middle. They’re positions (or suppositions) of the art of dancing, an artform of situation, of movement. And there are dancers who take a step here and another there… or both at the same time. Like Olga Pericet. As much a bailaora as a dancer, as solo as accompanied, as outside as inside. She’s worked on so many collaborations that a lot of space would be needed to list them here. But one of them, being Belén Maya’s guest in ‘Bailes alegres para personas tristes’, was the one which has given her definitive recognition. Right in the middle of the creative process of ‘Rosa, metal, ceniza’, her first solo show, but which feels like the end of a period, she makes a short halt on her way from home to the studio in order to reveal the secrets of the show… and her own.

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Olga Pericet, 'Rosa, metal, ceniza'
(Foto Palero & Lambán)
 

When Festival de Jerez proposed that Olga Pericet should display a show of her own at the Teatro Villamarta, the first thing she did was to feel happy. The second was to ask herself some questions: “What do I want to give? What point am I at? What’s going on with me?”. There was no beginner’s haste in her, since she has already tackled eight productions, among them, ‘Bolero, cartas de amor y desamor’ and – side by side with Daniel Doña and Marcos Flores – the two installments of ‘Chanta la mui’. Therefore, it isn’t so paradoxical that she won the Revelation Prize at Festival de Jerez 2010, as a result of her performance in ‘Bailes alegres para personas tristes’ by Belén Maya. “On my résumé there are several choreography prizes and so on, but I can understand this one because my work hasn’t been seen there”, she points out.

 
“Depending on what state you’re in, you create, love, live and die one way or another”

And the questions started to have answers: “I’m a person who has worked in both flamenco and in other disciplines. I reached the conclusion that I was at a point more as a performer and several elements came out and, above all, the concept of transformation and of the freedom to go one place and another… Something which flamenco already has, since each style in itself tells loads of stories: you have to put yourself in the shoes of each style, of each rhythm”, she elaborates.

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Olga Pericet, 'Rosa, metal, ceniza' (Photo Palero & Lambán)
 
“Metal is strength, rhythm, that fortitude we must have to keep our story alive, that perseverance”

She passed those reflections on to stage director David Montero, adding other thoughts about life itself: “Depending on what state you’re in, you create, love, live and die one way or another. I’m interested in states of mind and also existence”. Along that road they reached “something like really deep”, which is expressed in three simple elements: rose, metal and ash. “I’m given versatility as a performer and creator to be able to reach that depth without confinement or limitations, for it to be a fresh, deep, strong show”, the artist explains. And what were chaotic notes scribbled in a notebook at first gradually started to make sense: “The rose is femininity, smell, the Sevillian school. Metal is strength, rhythm, that fortitude we must have to keep our story alive, that perseverance. And ash is that point not of sinking but rather, more positively, of renewal… drawing a conclusion in order to reach an end and start anew”. As she concludes, “everything took on a really poetic sense which, moreover, focuses us on the concept of transformation”.

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Olga Pericet and Belén Maya on 'Bailes alegres para personas tristes' (Photo Daniel Muñoz)

The matter remaining to be solved was: flamenco or dance? “I’m now at a flamenco point”, she responds. But, obviously, she’s never going to set aside her classical side which, given that she expresses herself in “a reference to several disciplines, among them, the bolero school, which is very important to me”. She says that “now it’s really open and everything goes”, but it wasn’t always like that. “Today it’s considered really normal, but when I got to Madrid, I wasn’t given room or a place in anything. I remember that if you were a bailaora, you were a bailaora, and if you were a dancer, you were a dancer. There’s now a breeding ground of people in which that duality is considered normal. We also see the opposite effect now, that everything’s soaring… but it’s OK, it’s a consequence of repression. Now I’m really comfortable shuffling all around”, she admits.

And what’s that flamenco of yours?

 
“I’ve always had the polka dots, just like the ballet shoes”

I don’t know, it’s what I try to see. I’ve always had the polka dots, just like the ballet shoes. Everybody has his artistic education and his identity. I don’t know, I really love flamenco: I like to look back and where it’s evolving towards. In this show, I want to stick in quite traditional moments. Not with clear references and, perhaps, that of the Sevillian school, but more of a picture. I don’t know what might come out. I think the balance has tipped the other way, and I think that now what’s most contemporary lies in what’s most flamenco. I still don’t know what flamenco I have. What I do know is that I enjoy myself a ton and I’m somewhat tired of going into other people’s world unconsciously and letting myself be “manipulated”.

But so far, that experience has been positive, hasn’t it?

My career hasn’t supposed laying stakes on my name from the start due to economic matters, luck, fate… I’ve always been putting together my companies and collaborating with people, which is really “in” now, but I’ve been doing it for ten years: with Rafaela, with Belén, with Teresa Nieto, with Arrieritos, with the Nuevo Ballet Español, with Miguel Ángel Berna… I was confined for some time and I couldn’t bear it; I wanted it all. And besides, I need it because it’s a complete learning process; not settling in to what you already know. It turns me on to give my work in order to be able to receive.

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Olga Pericet on 'Bailes alegres para personas tristes' (Photo Daniel Muñoz)
 

Now it’s time for her to go to her own place. Always, it’s clear, with a team working around her: “When I do a show I rely on people I lay stakes on because I like them and I want to get to know them, and also people who might surprise me along the way”. She met Montero last year in Belén Maya’s project and, as she relates, “I like his way of thinking and I decided that for what I wanted to give, which I was sure of, he was the perfect aid, without altering but rather respecting me”. Having someone from the outside allows her to delegate and “get more into the performance, since I feel like going all out dancing”.

They’ve worked out the musical script together: “He gave me some ideas, we grabbed stuff from here and there, asking the musicians… and it came out naturally”. There are ingredients from other genres, like a piece by Albéniz adapted by Arcadio Marín, and those other references “help us to have another starting point in order to reach more traditional flamenco. We focus on three acts and then we begin to fit in the music”, she explains. It’s performed live by cantaores José Ángel Carmona, El Lavi and Miguel Ortega, as well as guitarists Javier Patino and Antonia Jiménez. They are joined by two guest dancers: Jesús Caramés and Jesús Fernández. “I didn’t feel like putting together things for them, but rather going in depth, simplifying and focusing on performing, and I wanted them to contribute to the overall team”, she adds.

 
“And if we had wings, would we fly? You might crash, but that sensation that I have them, it fills me with freedom”

She adds to that a choreographic collaboration by Marcos Flores in one piece, who returns hers in ‘De flamencas’: “There was a baile which I thought I repeated myself a lot in. Going solo is a challenge, but it’s hard. I wanted to focus on being different, on shedding my skin like a snake, according to which state of the three I’m in. He knows me very well, takes care of me and brings out a different part of me. When they choreograph for you, you risk taking steps which aren’t yours; they bring out the side of you they think they see in you which you yourself don’t see. And it’s rewarding, because it pulls you away from comfort. And if you get into that other stuff, what happens? And if we had wings, would we fly? You might crash, but that sensation that I have them, I’m going to take off, that really turns me on, it fills me with freedom”.

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Olga Pericet en 'Rosa, metal, ceniza'
(Photo Festival de Jerez 2011 - Javier Fergó)

Although she loves to mix, in ‘Rosa, metal, ceniza’ the search for her identity prevails, for “people to see my personality when dancing. I’m trying to give every viewpoint at a simple level, without putting together anything beyond elements of plastic art, textures, that something poetic which the theater gives”, she affirms. Simplicity is a key word: “I’ve weighed up the point where I’m at and how I’ve shared out my work since I began. As a creator I wanted to reflect on that, always with simplicity up front, because it’s a breather for me not to get involved in two hundred thousand things, but rather to lay stakes on something plastic, deep, fresh”. In that self-analysis, she reaches the conclusion that she’s “closing a period”. The next step is still a mystery: “I don’t know where I’m going to go to; it’s a sensation, perhaps due to the fact of weighing things up. It’s the first time I’ve worked looking at myself. One’s own truth is horrible in reality. I’m enjoying myself, but I see it as a summary”.

 
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Olga Pericet en 'Rosa, metal, ceniza' (Photo Festival de Jerez 2011 - Javier Fergó)

On weighing things up, what do you see as positive and as negative?

In general, you remember everything with a lot of affection. Sometimes the balance has been a little bitter; there are harsh moments and it’s hard to look at yourself there, but hope always overcomes it. The best thing has undoubtedly been everything I’ve given, I didn’t think it was so much and I’ve valued myself a lot. And on the other hand, I’ve been really afraid. What shall I do now? The positive thing is hope and my desire to break free, create and dance, after the bad. But I’m where I’ve wanted to be. I have incredible artistic freedom and I can’t complain. The most negative thing might be unintentionally going against the grain. Sometimes I don’t feel understood and that wears you down. I haven’t had an easy career; everything I’ve achieved has been through being really insistent, paying my own way, being there and working hard. And that’s the satisfaction.

Further information

Festival de Jerez 2011. Olga Pericet, ‘Rosa, metal, ceniza’. Review, photos and videos

Olga Pericet confirms herself at Festival de Jerez 2011 with the premiere of ‘Rosa, metal, ceniza’

Flamenco x 2. Entrevista a Belén Maya y Olga Pericet, bailaoras (marzo 2010)

Fernando Belmonte, Joaquín Grilo y Olga Pericet, premiados en el Festival de Jerez 2010

Festival de Jerez 2010. Belén Maya, ‘Bailes alegres para personas tristes’. Reseña, galería de fotos y vídeo

Marcos Flores, Olga Pericet & Daniel Doña. ‘Chanta la mui II. Complot’
Estreno en ‘La otra mirada del flamenco 2008’


   
CD. Javier Patino, 'Media vida'

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CD. Miguel Ortega, 'Una mirada atrás'

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