Friday, February 26, 2010

Gala Flamenca - Todo Cambia @ Sadler's Wells

Just a quick review of the Gala Flamenca, which closed the Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival last week. I didn't go to any other shows this year as I was a bit underwhelmed with the line-up: Eva Yerbabuena, Rafaela Carrasco, Maria Pages - they're all great artists, yes, but they were all in the festival last year or the year before, and I want to see new faces. (Nuevo Ballet Espanol is not my cup of tea)

So for the new faces I went to the Gala, where three women (Rocio Molina, Belen Lopez and Pastora Galvan) and one man, Manuel Linan, shared the stage and toyed with their tradition.

Rocio Molina opened the show - I loved her in Mujeres, and she is becoming renowned for really looking into flamenco. Coming in wearing a small leather skirt and boots, she tells you straight away that she is here to play with tradition and your expectations of what flamenco can be. She doesn't hide behind big dresses, but at the same time the footwork and the postures are there: she is a great dancer, and there's a particular kick of the shoulder that I really enjoyed. She ends her performance dancing in a small rectangular wooden box, using the sides to increase the sound and possibilities of her footwork, building on the rule that a good flamenco dancer can dance in a really tiny space.

Belen Lopez followed with astounding footwork. She looked very masculine in a white suit (high waisted trousers and jacket), even her arms and hands were that of a man (she didn't use her fingers when turning her hands for example) When she reappeared at the end in a tightly fitted dress and with castanets, I didn't recognise her.

Manuel Linan was also very good. I wasn't sure about him at first, what with the walking stick and all that, but he won me over by the end of his performance.

Finally, Pastora Galvan closed the show. She is the sister of bailaor Israel Galvan, and she went closest to traditional flamenco. Her face was so expressive and intense, it really felt like she had a story to tell us. When she walked backwards in a circle, biting her fist, it made me think of a flamenco version of Giselle's crazy/death scene. She had a great connection with the musicians and singers - it seemed to me like they shouted the most for her. 'Baila Pastoraaaaa'

So it was a great night of flamenco dancing, and I wouldn't mind seeing any of those performers... in next year's festival maybe?

Here is a video of Belen Lopez - what a zapateado!

And here is Pastora Galvan, in a more contemporary style than what I saw. Very influenced by her brother!

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