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)

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

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

BETRAYED  (4:48) 

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.