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)
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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.
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
Se me vuelvan "p'atrás"
Date improvised: April 30, 2021
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.
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 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.