ROUGH CUTS

A platform where (for the most part) improvisational dance/poetry/cante reflect what we, as dancers/artists, are feeling as we navigate through the landscape of Covid and these current chaotic times.  

Introduction to Rough Cuts from Elena LaComadre (4:13)

BIEN PAGA (6:03)

Music: Miguel Poveda

Date improvised: September 29, 2022

Turn down the volume.

Personal artistic statement:

Bien Paga, composed by Juan Mostazo Morales, is an old song made famous by Spanish-born actor and singer Miguel de Molina. One can see the fragmented clip of this song in the film Esta es mi Vida

Bien Paga and others such songs fall into the category of the copla genre – a type of Andalusian Spanish song that combines its music, lyrics and interpretation made popular during the 1930s.

These songs have been carried down throughout the decades and modern flamenco singers such as Poveda and Diego El Cigala give us their sensual interpretative version.

The lyrics are self-explanatory. Sung by a Gypsy man to a paya or non-Gypsy woman, he tells her it is finished between them. She was well-paid with "gold" for her caresses and kisses. He has found another- one who gave her kisses of free will.

I often wonder about this well-paid woman. Were there regrets? Did she even care? Perhaps she herself was abandoned by a lover which caused her to adopt this mind set. For me the red roses represent the peace between them as he asks her to remember him no more. 

La bien pagá

Ná te debo

Ná te pido

Me voy de tu vera, olvídame ya

Que he pagao con oro tus carnes morenas

No maldigas, paya

Que estamos en paz

 

No te quiero

No me quieras

Si to' me lo diste, yo na te pedí

No me eches en cara que to' lo perdiste

También a tu vera yo to lo perdí

 

Bien pagá

Si tu eres la bien pagá

Porque tus besos compré

Y a mi te supiste dar

Por un puñado de parné

Bien pagá, bien pagá

Bien pagá fuiste, mujer

 

No te engaño

Quiero a otra

No creas por eso que te traicione

No cayó en mis brazos

Me dio solo un beso

El único beso que yo no pague

 

Ná te pido

Ná me llevo

Entre esas paredes dejo sepultas

Penas y alegrías

Que te doy y me diste

Y esas joyas

Que ahora pa' otro lucirás

Well-paid woman

I don't owe you anything

I'm not asking you for anything

I'm leaving your side, so forget me already

Because I have paid for your sun-tanned flesh with gold

Don't curse, you boor

We are in peace with each other now

 

I don't love you

So don't love me

If you gave me everything, I never asked for anything

So don't reproach me by saying that you lost everything

I also lost everything by your side

 

Well-paid

Yes, you are well-paid

Because I bought your kisses

And you surrendered yourself to me

For a handful of money

Well-paid, well-paid

You were well-paid, woman

 

I won't lie to you

I love another woman

But don't think I betrayed you

She didn't fall into my arms

She gave me a single kiss

The only kiss I didn't pay for

 

I'm not asking you for anything

I won't take anything with me

In between these walls I'll bury

The sorrows and joys28

That I still give you and that you gave me

Along with the jewelry

That you will display for someone else now

NANA DE LOS ROSALES (4:02)

Music:  Miguel Poveda

Date improvised: July 29, 2022

Personal artistic statement:

Nanas, or cradle songs, are melancholic lullabies sung by a parent or grandparent to a disquieting child in hopes of lulling them to sleep.  In many cultures these cradles songs have been passed down from generation to generation.
 

This year (even amidst the continuing COVID situation), the births of two baby girls gave me great joy. I thank Baby Sage and Baby Luna for being the inspiration for this improv.

A dormir va la rosa de los rosales,
a dormir va mi niño porque ya es tarde.

A este niño divino lo vela un ángel
que lo arrulla en sus brazos como una madre.

Este niño chiquito no tiene cuna,
su pare es carpintero y le hará una.

Ea, mi niño está durmiendo,
dormío se quea, dormío se quea

DREARY DAY (6:03)

Music: Entre rosas y jazmines, composed by Chuscales

Date improvised: May 26, 2022

Personal artistic statement: Inspired by the poem "The Rainy Day," written in 1841 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Dreary Day" expresses the theme of living with depression. In the poem, the author compares his emotional and mental state to the rainy, gloomy weather. As one who has lived with long-term depression, the words of this melancholic poem hit deep within my being. The yellow chair in the piece represents her mental state of depression. It is her dreaded companion always waiting for her no matter how hard she tries to disengage herself from that inescapable state of being. In the end of the piece, she descends on the yellow chair accepting her fate.

 

The musical backdrop for this improv piece is a beautiful masterpiece – a granainas by Jose Valle Fajardo, known as Chuscales entitled "Entre Rosas y Jazmines" ("Amongst Roses and Jasmines"). It was, by far, a favorite composition of our singer/guitarist –  the late Cesar Alvarez who was compadres with Chuscales.  I last performed to this music in 2006 in the project Grito Flamenco – an homage to the passing of Cesar.  

 

Revisiting that time period and seeing myself a much younger dancer void of major injuries was quite emotional. Not only did I feel the passing of time and the wilting away of youth that Longfellow’s poem speaks to us about, but I relived the grief once felt over Cesar’s passing.  

The Rainy Day by Henry Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
   And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
   And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
   Some days must be dark and dreary.

UNTITLED (2:39)

Music:  TEARS from the album Dustin Henze Ibiza - Licence to Chill (excerpt)

Date improvised: May 17, 2022

Personal artistic statement:

Sometimes after an illness, the passing of a loved one or a catastrophic event in one’s life, trying to recover to find yourself and your equilibrium is challenging. And more often than not, the recovery time far surpasses the devastating event that occurred in the first place.
 

Such is the case when working on the untitled excerpt “Tears”. Trying to recapture myself as that mature dancer pre COVID and yearning to be in the moment of improvisation was a challenge. I struggled and still am struggling to find that part of my artistic spirit that was lost during the illness phase.
 

The music falls under the electronic genre. But it is the powerful ”Flamenco echo” throughout that makes it mysteriously alluring and seductive.

INNER RAGE (Excerpt)  (3:55)

Music: Baby Baby by Electro Twins (Summer Chill on the Beach. Vol. 1) or (Get into Balance with Flamenco Chill CD 3 track #5 Joyce)

Date improvised: April 13, 2022

Personal artistic comment: Life can sometimes throw us a curveball and at times more than one. Between the highs and lows of life, "walking through the valley" can be a dark and painful place to be.  It can be said that our world has walked through this valley of doom with the devastating Covid pandemic. Whatever the loss —whether globally or personally — "walking through the valley of the shadow of death" highlights how fragile and temporal our human existence is.
 

The improv piece "INNER RAGE"  is a reflection after such a difficult walk through the valley. The feeling of not being able to go on, to have to depend on others to carry you through, and the inner conflict with one’s self when independence is greatly diminished and perhaps threatened. The tree branch represents the one who carried you — who pestered you to continue when all you wanted to do was lie down, be left alone to expire — and the self-condemnation you feel when standing on your own two feet with pride and dignity seems impossible.
 

Thank you, daughter of mine, for carrying me through.

TRES CANCIONES AL ESTILO DE COPLA ANDALUZA
Three songs in the style of copla andaluza

 

Music: Miguel Poveda
 

​Personal Artistic Comment: Written and sung by the famous Manolo Caracol, songs like Salvaora date to the early to mid 40’s. During the first half of the 20th century from 1920 to 1955 which included the Spanish Civil war (1936–1939), it was common to see ‘Opera Flamenca’ – musicals based around Andalusian or gypsy settings, mainly love stories. The music was a mixture of Spanish popular song called 'copla andaluza' which Manolo Caracol named zambras. His songs like Salvaora and La niña de fuego became immensely famous in Spain.

Many flamenco singers of today have remastered these types of songs adding their own uniqueness. These beautiful interpretations are by Miguel Poveda.

SALVAORA  (3:31)
Zambra

Date improvised: January 6, 2022

ROMANCE DE JUAN DE OSUNA  (3:37)

Romance gitano

Date improvised: January 5 2022

LA NIÑA DE FUEGO  (4:33)

Zambra

Date improvised: January 5 2022

Que razón tenia la pena traidora

que el niño sufriera por la salvaora

diecisiete años tiene mi criatura

y yo no me extraño de tanta locura.

eres tan hermosa como el firmamento.

lástima que tengas malos pensamientos

 

quién te puso salvaora

que poco te conocía,

el que de ti se enamora,

se pierde pa toa la vida

tengo a mi niño embrujao

por culpa de tu querer

si yo no fuera casao

contigo me iba a perder

 

dios mio que pena mas grande

el alma... me llora..........

a ver cuándo suena la hora

que las intenciones

se le vuelvan buenas

a la salvaora.

How right was the treacherous pain

that the child suffers for the Salvaora

seventeen years old is my son

and I'm not surprised with that craziness

you are as beautiful as the firmament.

too bad you have bad thoughts

 

who called you salvaora

knew you so little,

the one who falls in love with you

loses himself for all his life

I have my son bewitched

because of your love

if I wasn't married

I'd lose myself with you

 

oh god what a great pain

my soul...is crying...

let's see when will come the time

when the intentions

turn good

for the salvaora

Como me duele
el alma
me duele señores
de tanto llorar.

No hay flor como la amapola
ni corazón como el mío
que lo sentencian a muerte
por tenerlo "repartío".

A las dos de la mañana
me vinieron a llevar
tres pares de ojitos negros
y me tuve que entregar.

La mano en el evangelio
la pongo yo aunque me muera
que yo no he "matao" a nadie
de noche en la carretera.

Que los tormentos de mis negras duquelas
no se los mando ni a mis enemigos
Que yo soñaba con clavito y canela
me despertaron "pa" darme el castigo.

Mi sangre y mi "vía"
eres mi lunita clara
que con lo mucho que yo te quería
te vas sin volver la cara.

La rosa de los amores
la cortan pobres y ricos
y "tos" acaban llorando
igual que los niños chicos.

Que los tormentos de mis negras duquelas
no se los mando ni a mis enemigos
que yo soñaba con clavito y canela
me desperataron "pa"darme el castigo.

Mi lunita clara
eres mi sangre y mi "vía"
que con lo mucho que yo te quería
te vas sin volver la cara
que con lo mucho que yo te quería
te vas sin volver la cara.

La luna te besa tus lágrimas puras

Como una promesa de buena aventura

La niña de fuego te llama la gente

Y te están dejando que mueras de sed

Ay niña de fuego, mi niña de fuego.

 

Dentro de mi alma yo tengo una fuente

Para que tu culpa se incline a beber

Ay niña de fuego, mi niña de fuego.

 

Mujer que llora y padece

Te ofrezco la salvación

Te ofrezco la salvación

Y el cariño ciego

Soy un hombre bueno que te compadece

Anda, quédate conmigo

Niña de fuego.

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CAMINANTE


Collage on Paper and Oil Pastel.

Part of my Painted Diary.


Liliana De Irisarri

Instagram: @lilianadeirisarri5

Caminante is part of an artistic diary that began few years back when Liliana decided to alter a little booklet inheritance from her mother. The book is probably 80 years old but the creation began with her childhood memories. Caminante is one from her memoires of her school. It goes hand in hand with the excerpt from Antonio Machodo's poem Caminante which fueled her inspiration in this creation.

 

COVID has given this artist the opportunity  to create more and especially to recall more about her life's experiences and more importantly - our stand in this planet.

 

Yes, together, we will continue walking the way of peace and love.

 

This image was created in 2020.

A CHRISTMAS LOVE SONG  (2:46)

Music: Sia and Greg Kurstin

Date improvised: December 29, 2021

Personal artistic comment: For many, Christmas is felt as the most wonderful time of the year. As children, we long waited for that time to finally arrive no matter how poor our family was. But for many others Christmas and the coming of a New Year is a sad contemplating time.

The song Snowman utilizes the symbolism of Christmas time in a unique manner.  Sia confesses her affection for her snowman, a metaphor for the man she deeply loves. The man she is in love with is a depressed individual. In the lyrics of the song, the snowman who is in jeopardy of melting away, is symbolic of her lover experiencing some sort of breakdown. She tries to uplift his spirits. She assures him that she will never leave him.

The lyrics can be thought of as light and perhaps trivial in keeping to the season of Christmas. But they hold a deeper meaning, at least for me, as I look past the veneer of Christmas cheer. The song holds the message of demonstrating love and human compassion, the true meaning for the season.

MARCAJE POR  CANTIŇAS  (4:53)

Music: Sal de aquí by Mayte Martin

Composer: Popular

Date improvised: December 1,  2021

Personal Artistic Comment:  Cantiňas are melodies from Cadiz – Aires de Cadiz. From the Cantiňas other forms developed such as Romeras, Rosas, Caracoles, Mirabras and Alegrias - the most popular.
 

One historical theory states that these songs emerged during the early 19th Century when Spanish partisans gathered along the Atlantic coastline near Cádiz to launch attacks against Napoleon during the Peninsular War. A merging of the music of Cadiz with jotas (songs from Aragón of northern Spain) gave way to Cantiňas and its variations.
 

Alegrias, which some cantaores and aficionados interchange the name Alegrias and Cantiňas, means joy. The characteristics of these Cadiz melodies express elegance and beauty, whereas the Solea is known as the mother of flamenco cante, Alegrias is known as the queen because traditionally in an epoch of time past, it was the dance for a woman where the focus was more on arm, hand and torso work displaying her feminine grace.
 

In Sal de aqui, the amazing Mayte Martin interprets Cantiňas in a very traditional style. I am sure Cesar Alvarez – beloved singer/guitarist for Arte Flamenco wherever his spirit is, would have loved her voice and interpretation.
 

Sal de Aqui letras

¡Ay! Por tabaco a Gibraltar,
a Roma se va por bulas,
por tabaco a Gibraltar,
por manzanilla a Sanlúcar,
y a Cái se va por sal.

Eres guapa y morena,
te llamas Carmen
y aquí están los papeles
para casarme.
Ya la licencia de Roma
la tengo escrita,
a esta niña la quiero
desde chiquita.

En medio la calle Nueva
Manuel de Angustias cantaba,
en medio la calle Nueva,
las cantiñas de Pinini,
aquel gitano de Utrera.

¡Ay, Utrera! cuánto arte,
que tó el que pisa tu suelo
se emborracha con tu cante.

Yo soy aquel contrabandista
que siempre huyendo va,
cuando salgo con mi jaca
del peñón de Gibraltar.
Y si me salen a resguardo
y el "alto" a mí me dan,
dejo mi jaca al escape
que ya sabe dónde va.

Cuando va andando,
cuando va andando
rosas y lirios,
lirios y rosas
va derramando.

Que me han de matar de un tiro,
en esta calle se suena,
que me han de matar de un tiro,
nunca llueve como truena,
con esa esperanza vivo.

Que a los titirimundis
que yo te pago la entrá,
que si tu mare no quiere
¡Ay! qué dirán, qué dirán...

MARCAJE POR PETENERAS  (2:47)

Music: Violin Instrumental, Olvido Lanza

Composer: Popular

Date improvised: November 19, 2021

Personal Artistic Comment:

There is a mystique that shrouds the song of Peteneras. Believed to be a cursed palo by some Flamencos and gypsies, it carried a superstitious air about it that some refused to sing or dance it. There are many theories as to its origins. Some flamenco songs/styles of uncertain origin are explored by studying the actual words or verses of the song to make a connection to their origin.
 

One popular theory maintains that this palo originated in the town of Paterna de Rivera, hence Peteneras, in the province of Cadiz. According to legend, beautiful Dolores, a cantaora/singer and prostitute, died a violent death at the hands of one of her lovers. Her seductive powers caused the damnation of men or la perdición de los hombres as the song goes.

 

“Quién te puso Petenera,

No te supo poner nombre,

Que debió haberte puesto,

La perdición de los hombres.”

"Who put you Petenera?

He did not know what name to call you.

What should have been put upon you,

“The perdition of men."

 

Another theory suggests that the Peteneras has Sephardic Jewish roots.

 

¿Dónde vas bella judía,
tan compuesta y a deshora?
Voy en busca de Rebeco
que está en una sinagoga
 

Where are you going beautiful Jewish,
so composed and at the wrong time?
I go in search of Chameco
who is in a synagogue
 

And yet another theory suggests a connection to South America and Cuba with this letra.

 

“En la Habana nací yo,
Debajo de una palmera,
Allí me echaron el agua.
Cantando la petenera.”

 

"In Havana I
was born,
Under a palm tree,

 there they poured the water on me.
Singing the petenera."

As a young dancer, I was most familiar with the first theory. Traditional Flamenco dancers such as Rosa Duran and Manuela Vargas gave popularity to the Peteneras. And odd, ironic, and more often than not, the piece was and still is danced today in white by amazing dancers such as Mercedes Ruiz, Ana Morales and other greats.

Cursed with beauty and possessive power over men, perhaps it was due to necessity of life that Dolores chose that lifestyle. And yet somehow, I envision her inner turmoil over her choices always knowing deep inside her final fate at the hands of a jealous lover.

ENTRE LOS DOS MUNDOS  (4:25)

Translation: Between Both Worlds

First version (0:00 - 2:12)
Second version (2:12 - 4:25)

Artist: Dorantes – recordando mis años a la guitarra

Date improvised: October 27, 2021

Personal Artistic Comment:   It is said that the veil between the physical and spiritual world is the thinnest especially leading up to Halloween, of Celtic pagan origins, or All Hallows Eve, observed in the Christian liturgical calendar on October 31st.

Why is that?  

With days getting shorter, the harvest cycle waning and winter approaching, our natural world prepares to withdraw from the realm of life and growth. It is a time of transition - a mystical gateway passing from season of life through the season of death or hibernation.  And if one is magically inclined or believes in such things, and many do, it is a time where form can meet spirit, the seen can encounter the unseen, and the known can connect with the unknown world. So, it is said…

The beautiful melancholic music of Dorantes recalls his years with the guitar and his love for her - la guitarra.  He has captured my dancer’s heart in a profound manner that it allows me, expressing in movement, to remember loved ones that have passed on from this realm.

There are two takes on this piece. The first draft enables me to imagine and somehow sense the veil’s existence. The second, becoming more emotionally moved by the weeping guitar, I am almost at the threshold of the veil but cannot cross it.

BETWEEN BOTH WORLDS is about grief, a characteristic trait that is, unknowingly at times, embedded in many of the pieces I do. And for those who still carry any burden of grief over losing loved ones  regardless of for how long, I hope this simple dance expression somehow caresses your heart.

ALAS RECORTADAS  (6:00)

Translation: Clipped Wings
 

Music: Sur

Artist: David Peña Dorantes

Date improvised: October 23, 2021

Personal Artistic Comment:

In Sur, Dorantes musically depicts the very essence of his South, el corazón y el alma del sur, at least that is what I sense in my core.  This piece allows me to envision a hawk gliding over the landscape of the south. It saddens me to know that this once majestic hawk has been injured. His freedom, power, and full potential have been restricted. Even so, with clipped wings, the hawk still glides. It is as if the music gives him the will to soar despite his shortcomings.

Date improvised: October 12, 2021

MARCAJE POR SOLEA (4:31)

Guitarist: Carlone Planté

Singer: Duquende

Personal Artistic Comment:   Soleá or soleares, in its plural form, comes from the word soledad, meaning solitude or loneliness. The earliest known mention of soleares refers to them as soledades, by Spanish poet, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, in 1862. They existed before 1850 as often stated but has never proven. In any event, we can assume they arose in the Triana barrio in Seville in the mid-19th century and from there spread throughout the provinces of Seville and Cadiz, thus allowing the emergences of various styles or flavours of this musical form.  Examples include Soleares from Alcalá, Soleares from Triana,  Jerez, Lebrija, and Utrera which can be attributed to the singer La Serneta who lived from 1837 to 1910.

Soleá is known as the “mother of the cante” as they appear to be the matriarch, a central figure to which all flamenco revolves around. Along with Siguiriyas, they were the springboard so to speak for many other types of flamenco cante.

Its pathos and depth along with one of the most beautiful compás in flamenco, is like a crowning jewel in the achievements of the flamenco artform. The songs speak about pain of many kinds while still infusing fragments of the beauty taken from the Andalusian life, countryside, its people, especially the Gypsies.

There are three categories to the soleares – grande, corta and soleariyas – from which bulerias is derived from. And although 'Plentitud' is sung in a faster pace and probably is a mixture of these categories, one thing is for certain, the voice of Duquende expresses the cry of the soleá.

poem.jpg

LOST POEM

 

A friend of Elena's is looking for a poem published between 1968 and 1973 and is offering a reward if you can locate it.  Click the link below for more details.

https://longlostpoem.com/

DETRAS DE PUERTAS CERRADAS (5:04)

Translation: Behind Closed Doors (An ode to Muriel)
 

Music: Luz

Guitarist: Caroline Planté - 8 Reflexiones

Date improvised: September 27, 2021

Personal Artistic Comment:

This piece is about addiction and the inner mental conflict one struggles with. Vices are negative behaviors or habits that don’t start out that way but overwhelming factors in our lives and our world can open the path to detrimental living and co-dependency.

Recalling the movie Days of Wine and Roses brought a vivid memory to mind. As a child, my family lived in poverty. An additional way to make ends meet along with both parents working two jobs, we took in borders. The alcoholic couple in the movie (Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick) could have easily been our two borders, Muriel and Harold, also known by Muriel as Carlos by night. In any event, my parents could not pronounce the name Harold, thus Carlos was it.

By day, these two, especially Muriel, were sober, sane and pleasant caring people.  But by 5pm after work and a stop at the local bar and coming home with a paper bag filled with liquor bottles, we saw and heard a different side of them. Talk about second-hand smoke! We were also exposed to second hand alcoholism. To make matters worse, Muriel and Harold were chain smokers and I wonder still to this day how they did not burn our house down. My parents could have easily evicted them and found better tenants, but the empathy my parents felt, particularly my mother, for Muriel and Harold was very sincere. What sheer stupid blind faith my parents had that all things would be okay! Nevertheless, as the years went by Muriel and Harold slid further and further into the world of alcoholism.

It is Muriel that I especially remember. She was a long legged woman, slender in stature - almost regal looking. And as a child I wondered why this beautiful loving woman would change personality so quickly. Why, oh why, could she not be that woman that greeted me in the morning?

And truth be told, this past year, heading towards two, COVID has tested our patience, strength, courage, and faith beyond measure. Alcohol and substance abuse has increased. Mental health has taken a downward spiral turn with possible elevated suicidal ideation. And truth be told, there have been many a day where I sympathize with Muriel’s drinking away to oblivion.  

Let me drink! Let me be so drunk that I have no eyes to see with, no ears to hear with, no mind to think with and no heart to feel with for the pain cuts too deep. And wake me up, if you can, at the appointed time.” – An ode to Muriel

Date improvised: September 13 2021

AIN'T NO SUNSHINE (3:15)

Musical Artist: Joe Cocker 

Original Lyrics: Bill Withers 

Personal Artistic Comment:  Released in 1971 as a B- side to the song Harlem, ‟Ain’t No Sunshine” became a smashing hit which brought fame to Bill Withers. He was inspired to write the song after watching the 1962 movie ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ about a couple who slid into alcoholism while attempting to repair their problematic toxic relationship.

‟Ain’t No Sunshine” is a bluesy, heartbreaking ballad about an addictive love and it is no wonder that many artists felt its call to sing it, such as Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Prince, only to name a few. But it is the later interpretation by Joe Cocker that I have embraced the most probably because his guttural style of singing is similar to Cesar Alvarez's approach to flamenco cante.  

For me, the song ‟Ain’t No Sunshine” is about longing, yearning and loneliness one feels when she, he or even it is gone, especially with the exodus of our old way of pre-COVID life.  And although the song falls into the blues genre, I can still appreciate and explore it by means of flamenco personal expression.

OH! BLACK IS THIS DAY (2:51)

Greek Translation: Αχ! Μαύρη μέρα σήμερα
 

Music: Gnossienne No. 4 (Lent) 

Composer: Erik Satie (1890)

Personal Artistic Comment:

There are six movements to Satie’s masterpiece of Gnossiennes, a word invented by him, perhaps in connection to the Greek word gnosis meaning knowledge. Some historical accounts mention the influence of Greek culture and mythology in the creation of Gnossiennes as well as Gymnopédies. Satie’s music is eccentric, romantic, melancholic, and lonely.
 

The piece "OH! BLACK IS THIS DAY" takes its title from the opening line of Αχ! Μαύρη μέρα σήμερα, a poem written by an unknown author. When translated in English, the profoundness of that opening line is somewhat dimmed. The poem was the first, as far as I know, of many written and kept in a journal.
 

On December 3, 1951, in a small-town village, a young woman spends her last night surrounded by her mother and siblings. Loved ones have come to bid her farewell. Even though the dilapidated home is filled with people she loves, she feels so alone. She is about to undertake a long, treacherous journey into the unknown that will change her life forever.

The unknown woman is of no importance, only to me as she was my mother, but she represents the many faces of immigrants who left the Old Country in search for a better tomorrow.

For me, the melancholic music of Gnossienne No 4 is my mother, if that makes any sense, on that final day of December 31st, 1951. I sense her in the musical notes of this piece and I am intertwined in her melancholia.  

Date improvised: September 13, 2021

Date improvised: September 4, 2021

MADRE ABRAZANDO (4:26)

Translation: Mother Embracing

Music: Batir de Alas (a mi madre) from Sur 

Translation: Flapping Wings (to my mother)

By: David Peña Dorantes

Personal Artistic Comment:  As I rediscover the genius of Dorantes, I have come to the realization that for me, Dorantes is a storyteller through his amazing music. Actually, we are all something of storytellers, through our life, our work, our arts, or whatever the medium: dance, music, literary arts, visual arts, etc. His music, at least from my end, allows me to once again embrace the idea of portraying a theme. In particular, this music invites me to imagine two doves with wings fluttering as their mother cares for them and finally sets them free.

Mother Embracing is about one's maternal instinct.  Maternal, meaning in how one cares, encourages, guides and supports, not just their children but  it goes beyond that. For me, it also symbolizes the nurturing relationship between a teacher and their students. And haven't we all had some memorable teacher that made a difference in our lives?

SIEMPRE ESPERANDO (5:34)

Translation: Always Waiting

Music: Di di, Ana (Tell me Ana) from Sur
 

By: David Peña Dorantes

Personal Artistic Comment: Unbeknownst as I was improvising, I learned that this hypnotic music has a true melancholic tale to tell. Inspired by an endearing story written by his own father, Dorantes creates Di di, Ana, a sad fairy-tale about one of his aunts longing for the return of her only love. Taken away from her by civilians for whatever the reason one can only guess, she remained alone for the rest of her life. 

 

There on her balcony, embroidering, she waits and hopes for her eyes to see her love again. Mystical and magical as this music is, I would like to envision that Ana is dancing in the moonlight pleading for the moon to light the path for his safe return.

Date improvised: August 16, 2021

 Lyrics

ana, dime porqué bordas, di di, ana sábanas como el jazmín...

en tu balcón por las tardes a quién sueñas ver venir...

tienes treinta primaveras doliéndote en el vivir

y en tus ojos miel y menta y una tristeza sin fin...

ana, dime porqué tienes, di, di, ana,

el alma fuera de ti...

dicen que esperas a un hombre

que entre dos viste partir

tienes seca la esperanza

saber te alivia el sufrir

que cuando se lo llevaron suspirando iba por ti...

ana, tell me why you embroider, 

on your balcony in the afternoons who you dream of seeing coming...

thirty seasons of spring has passed while you hurt and live

and in your eyes honey and mint and endless sadness...

ana, tell me why you have 

the soul outside of you...

they say you're waiting for a man

that between two you saw depart

you have dry hope

knowing relieves you of suffering

that when they took him away sighing he was going for you...

Date executed: August 12, 2021 

While strongly associated with the culture and people of Sevilla, this dance form originally developed in the historical region of Castile. Around the 15th century during the era of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon), this form was derived from an old Castilian dance of the Seguidillas. 

 

Sevillanas gained its status as an independent genre by the 18th century as part of Escuela Bolera (Spanish Classical Dance).  It is a cross between Spanish folk dances and ballet influenced strongly by the French. In the 19th century, it was socially performed as Escuela Bolera but by the year 1900, the escuela bolera tradition (for this dance in particular) gave way to melting with flamenco. 

 

Sevillanas has many different expressions from classical to flamenco.  Therefore it was and still remains a socially important cultural expression. And no other film has captured this vast spectrum as in Carlos Saura's SEVILLANAS (1992). 

 

This particular Sevillanas sung by Camarón weaves its way in and out of tempo thus allowing the dancer to improvise in those moments. The verses are light in nature. The amusing first verse - the making of a new pair of shoes that are so fine and so flamenco, one has never seen such a beautiful pair. "Ay que flamenco mi zapatero" (cobbler). The final verse has a change in mood and tone with Pa qué  me llamas - "Why do you call me? You know you have me (or captured my heart I would like to think) but you hold yourself back. Gazing upon you only crucifies me."

Nevertheless there will be no other Camarón de la Isla. He will live on still influencing both Flamencos and lovers of flamenco  today.  May your memory be forever eternal, Camarón de la Isla.

SEVILLANAS (4:07)
 

Al cante: Camarón de la Isla
Al toque: Joaquín Amador y Tomatito
Soundtrack: Carlos Saura, Sevillanas

TOMA QUE TOMA-MI BARRIO-PA QUE ME LLAMAS PRIMA, LYRICS

Verse one
 

Me voy a hacer unos zapatitos

Del ala de mi sombrero
Muy finos y muy flamenquitos
Qué es muy flamenco
Mi zapatero
Me voy a hacer unos zapatitos
Del ala de mi sombrero
Que resuenen mis pasitos
Qué es muy flamenco mi zapatero
Me voy a hacer unos zapatitos
Del ala de mi sombrero
No los he visto más bonitos
Que mis zapatitos nuevos
Ay que flamenco
Mi zapatero

Verse 2

Ya se van los marineros,
Marujaita, con pan de telera

Ya se van los marineros,
Marujaita, se van pa la mar
Ya se van pa la mar
Y ole mares y mares
Ya se van los marineros,
Marujaita, con pan de telera
Y el motor rompe el silencio
Marujaita, se van pa
la mar Ya
se van pa la mar Y olea y mares
y mares Y
el motor rompe
el silencio
Marujaita, con
pan de telera

Ay mi barrio marinero Mi barrio mi barrio Ay mi barrio marinero Mi barrio mi barrio
Ay mi barrio

Verse three
 

Dame la mano, dame
Dame la mano, dame
Y súbete a mi barquilla,

Flamenca, dame la mano
Y súbete a mi barquilla
Dame la mano, dame
la mano, dame
Y súbete a mi barquilla

Que el vuelo de tus volantes Salpica mi chaquetilla

Dame la mano dame Y el Guadalquivir

Dicen que dijo

Si pudiera llegar hasta el Rocio

Ay mi rio

Verse four 
 

Pa qué me llamas prima Pa qué me llamas Si me crucifica que te mire Si me crucifica tu mirada
Pa qué me
llamas Pa qué
me llamas
prima Pa qué me llamas
Si cuando me tienes te
retienes Y
eres como el
vuelo de tu
enagua Pa
qué me llamas Pa qué me llamas prima Pa qué me llamas Pa que me llamas prima Pa qué me llamas
Si me crucifica, ayy
Pa qué me llamas

 Y EL RÍO ESTÁ LLAMANDO (3:23)

 

Translation: And The River Is Calling

Music: Semblanza de un Rio, Orobroy (Translation: Semblance of a River)
 

Musician: David Peña Dorantes

Personal Artistic Comment:  For me, this brilliant musical piece has captured many geographical sketches and images of a flowing, living river. From its gentle stillness where one wades knee high in its banks, to its rush and unstoppable force. Our senses are stirred, as one can almost feel, hear and touch the water. Drinking from it will soothe you on a hot day. Bathing in its gentle waters will cleanse you. But one senses its ever changing mood and as it builds up force, you are caught in it, hypnotized by its ultimate power.

Date improvised: August 5, 2021

Tonás

No te reveles serrana

si habla de ti gente, 

yo he hechado el juramento

 de pagarle con la muerte.

Vinieron y me dijieron

 que habías hablado mal de mi. 

Mira mi buen pensamiento

que no la creia de ti. 

Degraciadito de aquel que come pan en 

casa ajena,

siempre mirandole a la cara, si la ponen

mala o buena.

Y si no es verdad, 

eso que yo digo. 

Si no es verdad 

que dios me mande la muerte

si me lo quiere mandar.

Date improvised: August 5, 2021

Do not think so highly of yourself

if the people speak of you.

I have sworn to pay you with death.

They came and told me

that you speak ill of me.

Just imagine my opinion of you
that I didn't think you capable of it.

Disgraced is one who eats bread

from another's house or table,
always searching his face to see

if they reveal a good or bad opinion.

If this is not true,

what I am saying

if this is not true

may God send me death

if it is his will to send it to me.

MARCAJE POR TONÀS (3:52)
 

Singer: Chiquilin de Cordoba: text, arrangement, vocals

Tonás represents the earliest or at least one of the earliest flamenco songs. They are sung "a palo seco"' without accompaniment. Tonás - an original deep song (cante jondo) - gave girth to other offspring such as martinetes, deblas, carceleras and saetas.

The text is traditional and dates back to such an early time. Words birthed from the experience of life. 

The original verse is a gypsy man speaking to a gypsy woman. 

MARCAJE POR RONDEÑA (3:05)
Excerpt only

Guitarist: Rampli de Chiclana

La Rondeña is a flamenco musical form originating in the town of Ronda in the province Malaga, Spain. Having origins within another flamenco musical form called Fandango Malagueño, it is said that it is "the oldest fandango actually known".

La Rondeña spread expansively throughout Andalusia in the 19th century.  It is an emotional toque having a free rhythm, reflecting the haunting mountain country near Ronda. Much of the unusual and discordant sound is caused by the re-tuning of two guitar strings.  It is said that it is a melody of bandits of the rugged landscape. 

Date of performance: June 23, 2021

Seikilos

Best to play both videos simultaneously.

The Seikilos Epitaph, composed around 200BC, is recognized as one of the oldest complete compositions of the Ancient World. The song of Seikilos is an homage to his dead wife - .Euterpe which also happens to be the name of the Muse of Music in Greek mythology. And while he tells us – the readers - not to grieve, clearly it is grief that has pierced his heart in remembrance of her.

The tombstone has an inscription on it, which reads in Greek:

Εἰκὼν  λίθος εἰμίτίθησί με Σεικίλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον.
eikṑn ḗ líthos eimí. títhēsí me Seikílos éntha mnḗmēs athanátou sêma polukhrónion.

A free translation of this reads: "I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as a long-lasting sign of deathless remembrance."

 

Seikilos, poem (0:44)
Elena Lacomadre
 

Date of performance: June 10, 2021

Seikilos, harp (0:55)
Bonny Chan

Date of performance: June 19, 2021

MORTEM OBIRE / TO DEPART THIS LIFE (4:17)
 

Music by: Gregorius 

Upcoming album: Nocturnus

Personal artistic comment: Composed and sung in Latin (oddly enough a dead language), Mortem Obire or To Depart this Life  expresses artistically on how Covid and its aftershocks have marked our lives - something I can relate to with Gregorius. As there are many stages of grief, frustration and anger to dealing with feeling intense longing for that loss - whatever it might be, plays a significant role in the healing process in one's life.

Many drafts were executed while collaborating with Gregorius. This particular one has the persistent cell phone ring during a silent dance moment before the reprise restarts. Although annoyed at the time, I decided to keep it in as it now allows me to break out in laughter - perhaps a message to self - 'cheer up -  things will get better'. 

Artistic comment from Gregorius: Gregorius initially wrote Mortem Obire in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.  However, during the production of the album a very close friend and colleague from work died.  The impact was profound and equal to losing a close family member.  It was the most tragic event of his life.  The grief was further compounded by the isolation from lockdown and not being able to even visit the hospital in person to say goodbye.  There was also the loss of the way life was before and having to face an uncertain future carrying the torch without him.  The vocals were recorded while in mourning.

Biography: Gregorius is a multi instrumentalist from Toronto.  He is working on a forth coming album entitled, Nocturnus.  In addition to writing and recording, Gregorius also likes to build experimental instruments and written academic papers on his music.  More on his work can be found at www.greglauzon.com   

Date improvised: May 25, 2021

Classical Flute performances by Yvonne Pang

Andante in C major, K.315 (8:29)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
 

It may be less known that Mozart, despite the great and quirky musician he was, strongly disliked flute as an instrument. This piece was composed as a commission to a Dutch amateur. It captures the beautiful tone and charisma flute carries, and is overall elegant and cheerful in its own way. 

Fantasia No. 5 in C major (4:21)
Georg Philipp Telemann
 

Telemann was one of the most renowned composers in the Baroque era. As a fellow flutist, Telemann was an expert on the instrument and wrote this Fantasia in a very precise manner. It has three components: the first part contains typical Italian and French characteristics, the second part resembles a fugue, and the third part mimics a fete/dance.

Τσοπάνα - PASTORA - SHEPHARDESS (5:42)

Music: Πάρε γιατρέ τά γιατρικά (Pare Giatre ta Giatrika)

Sung by: ΓΡΗΓΟΡΗΣ ΛΙΟΛΗΣ and ΝΙΚΟΣ ΚΑΨΑΛΗΣ

Greek Clarinet: ΝΙΚΟΣ ΚΑΨΑΛΗΣ

Greeks dance and sing for many reasons. Like many cultures, particularly flamenco, dance and song express pain, sorrow and sadness but also joy and happiness. Passed down from generation to generation, Pare Giatre ta Giatrika (Πάρε γιατρέ τά γιατρικά) is a well know folk song from Epirus - an area straddling southern Albania and northwestern Greece. One distinctive song category from this region includes lamenting songs (mirolóyia or dirges). Although Pare Giatre ta Giatrika is - these days - sung and danced for joyful occasions, it is this particular interpretation that carries that lamenting cry. 

Pare Giatre ta Giatrika loses so much when translated in English. Basically it can easily portray a dying or sick man/woman telling his doctor to take away all therapies and best go heal someone else for nothing will cure them. The wound is buried deep within their broken heart. 

A prominent instrument in folk music of Epirus is the Greek κλαρίνο  - clarino or clarinet. The sound is strange, slow, hypnotic and healing. Nikos Kapsalis was well known for his clarino. In the last verse, which is not part of the original text, he sings as if he knew what was to befall him.

 

"Oh! What can the doctors do for me now,? Let them come and administer yet another dose. Ay! If Death exists and it does, these bones will surely return to dust."

Such a talent and taken away far to soon. Rest in Peace Nikos Kapsalis.

Personal Artistic Comment:  Although I cannot make out several words due to dialect, the lyrics of the song  possess a deep connection for me in dealing with the passing of my own father. Embedded in me, his words haunt me still decades later in my mind:  'Take it all away for nothing will cure me'. I am sure many caregivers can relate to this.

My father in the 'Old Country' was a shepherd. As a child I would hear stories of this hard occupation often not by choice but by family obligations.  It took strength and perseverance to walk this path. What 'Old Country' does not matter. What time period does not matter. This occupation dates back to ancient times and still to this day, it carries on very much the same way for many in remote rural regions across the globe. What matters the most is the need to honour the person holding on to that shepherd's  staff.

Date improvised: May 22 2021

 

VEILED (1:21)
Opening excerpt only

 

Music: Gades (Alegrias)

Artist: Manolo Carrasco

Personal Comment:   The Veil dates back several millenniums BC to the Assyrian civilization that flourished in the Mesopotamia regions. Respectable women were forced to wear the veil while women that were concubines and slaves did not have that privilege.

 

When Persia conquered Mesopotamia, the veil was adopted in their social culture. From there the veil spread to neighboring kingdoms.

 

Fast forwarding to today in the current COVID world, the mask is a sign of respect for each other. But glorious will be the day when we will be able to rip them off our faces and finally... breathe.

Date improvised: May 10, 2021

REFLEXIONES: EL AÑO PERDIDO (3:55)
 

Translation: Reflections: A lost year

Music: Abuela Perrata from Orobroy

By: David Peña Dorantes

Personal Artistic Comment:

2020 is considered by many to be a lost year due to COVID -  a devastating tower moment that seems to be continuing on as we have entered 2021.  As with any major loss in one's life whether - death, health, financial disasters or this pandemic creature that has gripped its claws in our world, one walks through the path of the stages of grief dealing with grave situations, and depending upon the individual - some feel it more than others. 

Date improvised: May 3, 2021

Stages of grief include (and not necessarily in that order) are shock, denial, bargaining, anger and pain. One arrives at the realization of final acceptance, but can be left with depression, loneliness and isolation. And the logical part of our mind tends to reflect back upon the why's and how's could this devastation have occurred in the first place. 

 

Of all improvisational pieces that I have explored,  this improv of "Reflexiones: El año perdido", it is myself I cannot recognize. It portrays a woman who is asking those questions, praying for answers, feeling the anger, loneliness and isolation.

Date improvised: April 30, 2021

MARTINETE (3:57)

Music: De Querer A No Querer from the Album Flamenco

Artist: Miguel Poveda 

De querer a no querer
Hay un camino muy largo
Que "to" el mundo lo recorre
Sin saber cómo ni cuando
Y ahora que yo soy el yunque
A mí me toca aguantar
Cuando yo sea el martillito
Negras las vas a pasar
Si no es verdad
Esto que sale de mi boca
Si no es verdad
Que los pasitos que estoy dando
"p'adelante"
Se me vuelvan "p'atrás" 

There is a long road that runs between loving and not loving

That we all travel without knowing when or how

And now that I am the anvil 

I have to ENDURE the blows.

When it is my turn to become the hammer, you will be the one to go through hell.

If it isn't true, what I am saying 

Let the steps that I take forward

End up taking me backwards

NANA FLAMENCA (2:36)

Translation: Flamenco cradle song

Singer: Pablo Dominguez

Guitarist: James Cosman.

La luna por el cielo

Se va durmiendo

Y una cama en las nubes

Se está haciendo.

 

Tiene la luna

Luceritos de plata

Junto a su cuna.

Date improvised: April 23, 2021

Personal Artistic comment: This was part of a live  performance (hence the coughs)  set for seven dancers, presented at the Harbourfront Theatre Centre (formerly the du Maurier Theatre) in memory of César Alvarez - original singer and guitarist for Arte Flamenco.  The nana was the prelude to the piece entitled A mi lado (At My Side) - a title so fitting- not just for us dancers, but for Pablo and James who stepped in and carried on for Cesar. I will be forever in their debt.

 

Nanas are cradle songs. This nana depicts the moon against the midnight sky. As it nestles itself in a bed of clouds in order to slumber off, it casts precious silver beams of moonlight upon the child's cradle. 

CANCIÓN DEL AMOR DOLIDO,

EL AMOR BRUJO (1:59)

Translation: Song of Sorrowing Love

Music: Manuel de Falla

Singer: Roccio Jurado.

El Amor Brujo is the story of Candela--an Andalusian woman who is haunted by her dead husband's ghost. In life, he cheated and tormented her with another woman named Lucia but in death he returns only to haunt Candela. Canción del amor dolido expresses how her blood blazes with jealousy. It seems even in death she cannot seem to escape his torment. 

Date improvised: April 3, 2021

Personal Artistic comment: Originally this piece was created for the Canadian National Exhibition's Say Si to Spain presentation in 1990, intended for only three dancers. It was later performed as part of the full work of El Amor Brujo in November 2002 and then again in 2007. Thirty years later, rediscovering the piece as a much older dancer with many sustained injuries and feeling more like a wounded warrior in dance, my heart still yearns for this music. But even more than that, it is the dancers who I miss the most. 

MARCAJE POR TARANTOS
(Excerpt only, 2:52)

Song: Por Ti, Me Acuesto Tarde (For you, I go to bed late)

 

Guitarist: Tomatito  

Singer: Pansequito

Tarantos are from southeast Spain (Almeria, Murcia and Cartagena) and it belongs to the jondo or deep song category of Flamenco. They are songs birthed from the heavy and lonely work in the mines. Their unique sound has a romantic and yet slow lamenting quality. 

Date improvised: March 12, 2021

Claveles rojos 
carne de mujer morena 
que huelen a claveles rojos 
la blanca huelen a azucena 
y por eso que a ti te cojo 
porque tu eres 
pa mi la mas buena 
claveles rojos 
carne de mujer morena

Red carnations
flesh of a caramel-coloured woman
that smell like red carnations
the white one smells like lily
and that's why I take you
because you are
for me the best
red carnations
flesh of a caramel-coloured woman

GREEK LULLABY (3:14)

 

Music: Thanasis Moraitis

Sung: Lydia Koniordou 

Title: Κάμε νάνα να κοιμηθείς. (kame nana na koimitheis)

 

Personal Artistic comment: Simply said, a beautiful melancholic lullaby to soothe our crying world which seems to need it just about now. 

 

Lullabies and lamentations! Strangely enough, they share a common thread. A crying baby is cooed by the mother to enter peaceful sleep while a lamentation or dirge symbolizes the final farewell as one crosses the threshold of life to everlasting rest. 

Date improvised: March 6, 2021