FLAMENCO FESTIVAL LONDON 2008
CLOSING & INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE OF ‘¡VIVA
And long live London, which is
Silvia Calado. London, March 16th, 2008
Photos (*): Daniel Muñoz
María del Mar Moreno & Mercedes Ruiz:
guest artists. Angelita Gómez: special collaboration.
Antonio Malena, Londro, Mateo Soleá, El Pescaílla:
cante. Santiago Lara, Santiago Moreno, Pascual de Lorca:
guitars. Pedro Navarro: percussion. José Zarzana:
piano. Luisa Terremoto, La Bastiana, Juani Peña,
Rosario: baile, choruses. Luis de la Tota: clapping. Francisco
López: director. Javier Latorre: choreography coordinator.
Paco Cepero: music coordinator. Flamenco Festival London
2008. Sadler’s Wells. London, March 16th, 2008.
Antonio Malena (Photo
Daniel Muñoz) |
When the curtain opened at Sadler’s
Wells and the London audience saw the majestic row of
seventeen artists seated on rush-bottomed chairs, a unanimous
‘ooohhh!’ was heard. ‘¡Viva Jerez!’
left fifteen hundred Londoners gaping in the second performance
of the show, which was its international premiere at the
same time as the closing of Flamenco Festival London 2008.
Now devoid of the pressure of its presentation in Jerez,
the show was performed more condensed, with a reduced
length and cast of artists - without Fernando Terremoto
- and polished up in general, which has made it gain in
And the result of that work is a more
dynamic show overall and more balanced in its two parts.
Something fundamental before an unbiased audience more
interested in factors such as the performers’ quality
and the flow of the show than localist details relative
to the family tree of cantes and cantaores. The questions
don’t go beyond curiosities here. “Are the
lyrics sometimes dramatic and other times joyful?”,
a gentleman asks politely. “Yes, normally when the
rhythm is livelier, they talk about everyday subjects,
about love or even jokes. And when it’s slower,
they talk about grief, suffering, death”, the Spanish
journalist responds. There you go, keep on enjoying yourself.
Well, ‘¡Viva Jerez!’
was just that for the London audience; genuine enjoyment.
The show sparkled greatly at the amazing English venue,
a real temple of dance which offers pearls in the season’s
program such as Pina Bausch, the Nederlands Dans Theater
and Sara Baras’s summer season. And the thing is
that flamenco is currently a part of this theater with
over three hundred years of history. The most contemporary
kind just as easily as the sort tightly grasping the roots.
And although the main interest lies in dancing, the respect
with which cante is listened to and applauded is overwhelming.
Even the rawest kind, which is what stars in the first
part of the show. Trillas, martinetes, tonás...
whose feeling transcends words themselves. Now then, the
prologue prepares spectators beforehand, with a colorful
scene in which one is first born and then wakes up to
life, in a space of tones tanned by the sun. Afterwards
comes the seguiriya. And the black background. And the
solitude of a room. It is sung by Antonio
Malena, who becomes the star cantaor, displaying his
spine-tingling echo throughout the gigantic theater. And
it is danced by an overwhelming María
del Mar Moreno, an accomplice to pain in every movement.
The interior. The intense.
'¡Viva Jerez!' rehearsal
(Photo Daniel Muñoz)
The suffering goes until there, as Luisa
Terremoto announces. The episode of the stand, with its
tables and its chairs, calls on the collective, comings
and goings, jokes, tangos, tanguillo and wailing embellished
by a milonga or a malagueña coddled by Londro.
By then the personality and professionalism which over
a century ago affected Jerez flamenco and every flamenco
without fail have been highlighted. And the guitar of
Lara does soleá, making way for the farruca
Ruiz, donning a short jacket and trousers. The mirror
reflects art, artist and audience. And she appears sober,
clean, sharp in her accurate, sinewy dancing. But it was
also that era of theatricalization and fury at the Teatro
Villamarta by a picture-perfect couple. Lola Flores and
Manolo Caracol. Zambra. María del Mar and Antonio
Malena... and José Zarzana on piano. The girl is
fire. And the theater gets excited.
An airport scene. An ice-colored background.
The flamencos from Jerez travel around the world to Tokyo,
to New York, to London. And wherever they go, they raise
the temperature. Just like they did that very morning
to be photographed before Big Ben by the special correspondents
sent by ‘Diario de Jerez’; quickly ignited
in that frosty waiting room is the spark, the wit, the
clapping of hands forever ready to clash. What could be
better than alegrías by Mercedes Ruiz to ease the
wait... Now the bailaora seeks her feminine register,
arms, hands and swirl of the dress. Ovation. But there’s
still a lot of Jerez left. The distance grieves. And María
del Mar Moreno comforts herself by singing a lullaby,
she who is a complete, resolute artist here.
María del Mar
(Photo Daniel Muñoz)
The return to earth coincides with the
festival of 1906, which announces bullfights and polo
matches. The soleá por bulería provides
the transition. And then the party breaks out. Each offers
a short stint por bulerías, each with his own personality,
from the most streetwise to the most stylized, from the
courtyard to the stage. Miguel Téllez and Mercedes
Ruiz balance technique, effect and art. María del
Mar Moreno rips herself apart in a ‘Piensa en mí’
which is sung, danced and fought. El Pescaílla
sparks laughter in the gag with the half square meter
tile. Maestra Angelita
Gómez pays tribute to the most timeless baile.
And the women and clappers and pianists. In the bustling
retreat, the scene freezes. Epilogue. Antonio Malena and
a shivering fandango. Now came the final ovation, the
curtain which was raised like three times, the crowd that
applauded and shouted, the team of artists who came out
to share the glory. As El Pescaílla sings on his
tile, “and long live London, which is very well!”.
(*) The photographs correspond to
the sound test and behind the scenes, since the theater
prohibits the presence of photographers during the shows