Flamenco Biënnale NL 2021: Far from the maddening crowd

It was all about dance this last weekend of the online edition of the Flamenco Biënnale NL 2021. Four artists: Rocío Molina, Andres Marín, Ana Morales and Vanesa Aibar brought an insight into their newest creations via the sublime video registrations made by Félix Vázquez. A big privilege we could enjoy from the maddening crowd, in the privacy of our own homes. Read the reviews by Susanne Zellinger.

Saturday: Rocío Molina and the wind that drives her

When Rocío Molina invites people, it is always a special experience. It’s like being invited to a dinner where you don’t know exactly what to expect. You don’t know whether you should go in a tracksuit or an evening gown, whether there will be a burger or caviar, whether it will be outside or inside, whether the sun is shining or you’d better prepare for a storm.

Rocio Molina and Eduardo Trassierra

Obviously, with ‘Caída del Cielo’ she has completed a phase, both artistically and privately. In the artist’s talk after the presentation of ‘El aire mueve’, she confirms this, feeling like “a seed in the earth that stretches its little shoots out like feelers to explore something new.” She feels small, vulnerable, fragile and unprotected, ready to leave behind much that was difficult, a retreat to protect herself but also a step in a new direction.

What began at the Bienal de Sevilla, she continues here at this world première for the Flamenco Biënnale NL in the Aceitera in Bollullos de la Mitación. Her retreat and creative centre in the middle of nowhere, which gives her peace and allows new ideas to emerge. A journey with three guitarists who have played a role in her artistic life, each bringing out different facets of her dance.

Zapeteado on old tiled floor

The most surprising was probably the Farruca at the beginning with the great Eduardo Trassierra, where one saw most clearly what is so fascinating about her: on the one hand, this small, controlled body, this rigour in the precision of every part of her physique, the power of her zapateado on the old tiled floor and this clashing clarity of her movements. And on the other hand, the pliancy and softness of her body, which the air seems to evade as she pushes the wind to the ground with her hands like the wings of a great bird flapping its feathers.

With Yerai Cortés she takes a small, light journey to Cádiz, cheerful and playful. And Yerai makes it easy for her, his chords are like little stones that she dodges light-footed, like two children they throw the ball to each other and when one doesn’t catch it, they run after it.

When night falls

Then, when evening comes, she closes the shutters, the light turns yellow, she loosens her severe braid and places herself in the hands of Rafael Rodríguez and his masterful zambra. Her dress is white and she herself is far away. As if in a trance, she dances with invisible veils, she sways her hips and spins like a dervish, crazy and enraptured, enchanted and enchanting, simply magnificent.

Then she goes out into the field, among the olive trees, and here Félix Vázquez’s camera work captures much that has not been said and that only an outstanding filmmaker can bring about: there is freedom and solitude, the air and the earth, the woman and the artist, the dream and the reality.

Sunday: Three different pieces with courage in common

Andres Marín

On the last evening of the Flamenco Biënnale NL we saw three dancers with pieces that could not be more different and yet have much in common, above all flamenco as a tool, but also a kind of liberation and an independence from conventions that always fills me with admiration, because courage is one of the qualities that are indispensable for this.

Dancing on a prayer

Andrés Marín began with a sequence from his ‘Vigilia Perfecta’, the hourly prayers of the liturgy, which served to praise the different moments of the day. It was premiered at the last Bienal de Sevilla and in the Aceitera we saw the ‘Sext’,it was prayed at the sixth hour of the ancient division of the day (about 12 o’clock) and is the midday prayer of the church.

“Every dancer should be unique, no one should resemble another, Isadora Duncan once said, and nothing could be more true of Andrés Marín.”

Bare-chested and wearing a futuristic coif created by José Miguel Pereñíguez, Andrés moves into a large room, accompanied by Alfonso Padilla on saxophone and Cristian de Moret’s cante. Hiding his face, he moves forward, there a gentle zapateado, there a stroke across the floor, there a little tenderness for the unplastered wall. A Gregorian chant, rhythm on the pandereta, internalisation, concentration and contemplation, silence.

Every dancer should be unique, no one should resemble another, Isadora Duncan once said, and nothing could be more true of Andrés Marín. Unmistakable, self-determined, ingenious and headstrong, he goes his own way, taking off his cap and disappearing into the field, naked and far from the maddening crowd. It’s a pity that the artist talk after the performance ended so abruptly, there would have been a lot more to say.

Ana Morales

Flaring flame and queen of metal

Ana Morales showed part of her new piece ‘En la Cuerda Floja’, accompanied by Bolita, Paquito González and the as always wonderful Pablo Martín Caminero on double bass, a piece that was conceived for the stage and lost much of its magic in the empty space. A very physical piece that is about balance and losing it, this sensitive balance of the dancer, this difficult path where doubts are often greater than certainties, but that is exactly what makes it exciting. Ana Morales in her red dress is the flame that keeps flaring up when you are already afraid that it might go out, and yes, she is a great dancer.

Vanesa Aibar and Eric Montfort

In the third and last section, Vanesa Aibar showed the beginning of her work on her new piece ‘La Reina de Metal’, accompanied by the Spanish-Dutch percussionist Eric Montfort. As in monochrome painting, one colour dominates the piece, in this case grey in various nuances, the sound colours also follow this mandate. Chains, metallic percussion, a dark dress of leather, metal, sounds and shadows. Then night falls. Let’s see what the morning brings.

Text: Susanne Zellinger
Images: stills from the live streaming show.

Susanne Zellinger is flamenco journalist and editor-in-chief of Flamenco Divino.

Flamenco Biënnale NL streamed the 2021 edition of the festival live from Madrid and Sevilla. You can re-watch the shows on their Vimeo channel. The organization made the streams available for free, but would most appreciate a donation. Check out their support plans.

Félix Vazquez from Buena Sombra Films was behind the camera of the great video registrations of this festival