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)
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
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: July 27, 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,
if this is not true
may God send me death
if it is his will to send it to me.
MARCAJE POR TONÀS (4:17)
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. The 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 the experience of life.
The original verse is a gypsy man speaking to a gypsy woman.
MARCAJE POR RONDEÑA (3:05)
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
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:
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)
Date of performance: June 10, 2021
Seikilos, harp (0:55)
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
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
Music: De Querer A No Querer from the Album Flamenco
Artist: Miguel Poveda
Considered one of the most profound cantes, Martinetes belong to the category of Cante Jondo - deep song of Flamenco. Emerging from primitive songs of the Toná which include Deblas, Carceleras (prison songs), Saetas ( liturgical songs sung at Easter), these are sung a palo seco - meaning without marking or rhythm. Martinetes are songs from the forge - cantes of the blacksmith singing to the rhythm of his hammer, a passionate expression of grief, lamenting about the persecution of the gypsies.
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
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)
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
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
carne de mujer morena
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
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
GELEM GELEM (7:55)
Known as the national anthem of the Roma/Gypsy people, it is a lamenting soulful song so beautifully expressed by singer Esperanza Fernandez and accompanied by the great Flamenco pianist Dorantes.
Personal artistic comment: Work on this piece began in August of 2020 - during the aftermath of the killing of Mr. George Floyd, the protests around the world, the riots, destruction of historical statues and monuments while still enduring COVID.
In the midst of all this, I was also involved in writing an article about my mother's difficult journey to Canada to be included as part of AN IMMIGRANT STORY - designed and told by Sholom Wargon.
Date improvised: February 17, 2021
Gelem Gelem allowed me to lament through recalling these emotional events. Both affected me profoundly while having to close the doors to the school of Arte Flamenco dance school due to the lockdown.
Gelem Gelem has for me become my improvisational dance ritual before I hang up my dance shoes. With each and every time I execute the piece, it always seems to take part of my soul away or perhaps - just perhaps - Gelem Gelem heals it.
Date improvised: February 6, 2021
Musical excerpts in order: Skaros by Stavros Kapsalis, Medea (Tiempo del Dolor) by Manolo Sanlucar, Llanto by Franck Monbaylet
Personal artistic comment: It is said 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' as no one possesses a greater wrath or vengeance than a woman when she has been wronged as in the case of Medea.
At times, this piece allows me to empathetically understand Medea's plight. Other times - more often than not, it is an expression of anger and frustration due to the global pandemic that has seemingly brought most of humanity to their knees. Like a thief, COVID has robbed much of our time, changing our lives to accept a 'new normal' that we did not ask for.
But with hopeful anticipation, the world will see victory.
Synopsis of Medea: In Greek mythology, Medea was written by Euripides (431BC). It is the ill-fated love story of Jason ,the Greek hero of Argos, and Medea, a powerful sorceress and princess of Colchis. In order to help Jason steal the Golden Fleece, Medea betrays her country, father and she murders her brother.
Once on Greek soil and exiled to Corinth, Jason abandons her and their children in order to advance his political ambitions by agreeing to marry King Creon's daughter. Medea, overwhelmed with grief over the loss of Jason's love, vows revenge on Jason with an unspeakable act that would torture him forever. She slays her own children. She flees to Athens on a golden chariot sent by her grandfather, the god Helios.
Additional reading: - the Wikipedia article on Medea.
More videos to come.