My third opportunity to see Rocio Molina perform was an occasion for some thought afterwards. She’s proven her mastery of the techniques; it’s now, clearly, time for her to start demonstrating her abilities as an artist. To that effect, she chose a stripped down set: her, three accompanists, a square pillar with a vase and a goblet; and a small seating area in the back. The focus was really on dancing, and what dancing makes you think about when done well: the way music and footwork interact (her and a glowing tambourine); the body as an instrument (as one of her palmeros added in some much more complicated footwork); the artifice/necessity of accessories in flamenco (hair as a part of a dance; pistachio green versus granny shoes in a “I’ll choose whatever tool I want to suit my dance” style).
Ambition, I think, overtook this show; my experience as a flamenco audience was quickly overwhelmed by my years watching modern dance, which it seems Ms Molina hasn’t acquainted herself with. She was clearly moving flamenco forward from its rather smothering tradition (i.e. Farruquito’s show), achieving brilliance during the flamenca versus palmero section (which had echoes of Indiana Jones’ Nepalese drinking game) and deliciously warping the fabric of space and time during the “dancing to the echoes of my own feet” section at the very end. But as modern dance this show came of childish and half baked, with thin ideas and a reliance on cheese (“I smash the glass beneath my feet!” and “Behold! I shake the bells on my head!”) rather than depth and … well, intelligent modern dance. So I found parts of if it quite painful, but I was still able to accept its failings as the experiments of a choreographer trying to push the limits of what she knows, while hoping that perhaps she might get out and see how much broader a vocabulary and tradition exists than the one she seems to be working with.
My final thoughts were that there seem to be about four types of flamenco performances, which I define as follows: Ye Olde School, hypermasculine and choking on tradition (Farruquito); I Feel Pretty, the tourist tablao, with lots of long skirts and fans rather than excellent dance (Nuevo Ballet Espanol); “This time do it without the scarf” (a Brady Bunch reference), a show which attempts to be “modern” that fail but may feature excellent dancing (tonight); and shows that actually push the art form forward (Israel Galvan, coming up Sunday but my review of his last show here; Paco Pena’s Quimeras). The last is, of course, my favorite kind; but what I enjoy about the Flamenco Festival is that it gives me a chance to see so many different kinds of flamenco performed that I feel like I have had a chance to really get exposed to what is going on in today’s flamenco scene, even from as far away as London. On to the next show (for me) Friday: Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The Flamenco festival continues through March 23rd.)