We offer an approach to the enormous diversity of the contemporary dance produced in Spain.
Contemporary dance, with its flexibility and capacity to grant total creative freedom, is one of the most productive strands of dance produced in Spain today. Modern technologies, which in principle are not inherent in dance, are today being accommodated into contemporary dance. Pioneers such as Nijinsky or Loïe Fuller would have been enthralled (or possibly suffered a stroke) when witnessing an innovative proposal such as the latest creation by the Stocos Institute The Hidden Resonance of the Moving Bodies II. This company is led by veteran dancer Muriel Romero and experimental composer Pablo Palacio, who have investigated how music can be generated from bodies, thus establishing an action-reaction relationship between dancers and the guest-performing group Neopercusión. The high-tech setting shapes the aesthetics of this Madrilenian group, seasoned in making productions exploring the depths of gestures, sound, and visual imagination.
To the Madrid-based Israeli creator Sharon Fridman, the focus is different. In his new piece, Dose of Paradise, a visually stunning duet, he investigates how new technologies can create emotional landscapes. All his works (including this one) have been thrilling performances with dancers spiraling to the brink of their physical and emotional capacity. The stage is carefully set up with lighting and music as key determiners in creating the suspense. Prime examples of his work are the performances ¿Hasta dónde? [Where to?], Free Fall, and Always.
The exploration into the depths of love, relationships and their consequences is done in the same way, but the search for emotionally aesthetic spaces is conducted through sophisticated technological devices.
Relationships are also the concern of the group La Casquería [The Offal]. Directed by Raquel López and Anna Paris, this group works from both Seville and Barcelona. The company’s third proposal El último verano [The Last Summer] is about planned nostalgia. The story unfolds at a specific time and place, the summer of 1978 in Spain, when three youngsters meet just before an unknown fate awaits them.
What both unites us and distinguishes us in this wide world is the prime concern of many creators nowadays. How do Spanish and Japanese traits compare? Is the desert of Lanzarote the same as the desert of Fuerteventura? What heritage did Al- Andalus leave us?…
The creator Lucía Vazquez’s fascination with Japan is deeply embedded in her choreographic proposals. Although she has collaborated with many companies and Andalusian artists, this dancer and choreographer has initiated her own search rummaging through her origins whilst living in Japan. Her new creation, Hasekura Project, made in collaboration with Satoshi Kudo, contains music and sensitivity from both here and there. Her point of departure is the historical legacy left by the diplomat Hasekura Tsunenaga in Coria del Rio, the small Andalusian town in which he lived in 1615.
Going through a different creational stage, with splashes of dance, circus, flamenco and live music is Carlos López Aragón. He has appeared with his Cádiz company Zen del Sur, orchestrating his special cultural melting pot. The company has staged the visually pleasing proposal Órbita [Orbit]. With the help of Noemí Pareja, the company’s proposal investigates the phenomenon of orbit with a touch of the aesthetics of oriental climes.
From the Canary Isles, Acerina Toledo and Juan Cabrera compare deserts experiences, aided by Roberto Torres. Divino desierto [Divine Desert] is an evocative duet of savage nature. It starts off exploring the similarities and differences Toledo and Cabrera perceive between the landscapes of Lanzarote, where she was born, and Fuerteventura, where he grew up.
When Mario Bermúdez created his first choreography, he was dancing for the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv. Alanda came into being partly as a result of the nostalgia of an Andalusian in Israel, but also as a result of the surprising similarities between that culture and his own. Similarities we owe to the remnants of the cultural splendor of Al Andalus, still found across Andalusia today. This discovery has shaped the aesthetic lines of his young company Marcat Dance in plays such as Anhelo [Longing] or Garip, both timeless creations of great formal beauty moving to rhythms of exotic melodies and Sephardic songs.
In fact, it is movement itself that becomes the essence of many of the current Spanish proposals.
This guiding principle has also shaped the works of the young company Metamorphosis Dance led by the Basque veteran dancer Iratxe Ansa and the Italian creator Igor Bacovich. Their teamwork, which started in 2013, resulted in the foundation of their own organization in 2019. Their concern is to showcase a very physical and personal choreogcraphic language still true to the heritage of the great masters of the 20th century.
After Dogs Talk and Al desnudo [In the Nude], their new creation Elkarrizketa Ilunak (Conversations in the dark, in Basque) follows along the same lines of research and work, only this time with contributions in lighting by Nicolas Fischtel, and in music by Miguel Marín.
The Human Experience
Roberto Torres, director of Compañía Nómada [Nomad Company], administrator of the Victoria Theatre in Tenerife and, above all, promoter of the new Canarian dance, admits being incapable of taking the human experience out of his choreographic proposals. Proof of this is visible in his solos and intimate works such as Una vez más [One more time], a duet created with the pioneer of Madrilenian dance, Carmen Werner. Evidently, in appearance the protagonists of their recent creation Dulces bestias [Gentle Beasts] are animals, but, rest assured, what they really want to talk about are feelings and emotions.
The uniqueness of Dulces bestias is attributed to its three protagonists, Paula Quintana, Paloma Hurtado and Daniel Morales, who, in turn, are the visible creative heads of the new Canarian dance movement.
They all share an interest in exploring the realm of emotions. Paloma Hurtado does it in her street solo Ephimera, a non-forgiving proposal forcing us to contemplate what we always attempt to overlook in our daily lives. The terrible situation of the people living in the streets moved this creator, who, together with the visual artist Angharad Herrera, staged this play to be as hard to look at as necessary. Daniel Morales, in turn, was working on a stunning series of very emotional solos. In a natural manner, he put them together and created the larger piece, La muerte de Venus [The Death of Venus], premiering in the framework of FAM Tenerife in 2019. In this play inspired by the eloquence of a renaissance sculpture, four dancers undergo different ways of understanding love.
The exploration into the depth of human nature also appears to be the concern of the creator from Tenerife, Carmen Macías. In 2018, she founded the company La Reversa [The Reversal] together with Laura Marrero. They are working on a social dance project in the Tenerife Auditorium. On her own Carmen Macías presented Tun/La at the Canarios Dentro y fuera Festival [Canarians In and Out] in 2019. In this solo performance she deals with the theme of taking decisions, even taking flight, which she sees as a consciously evasive action. We are all the sons and daughters of someone. We come from another person, but from the point of birth, we start to carve out our own destiny.
Another creator from Tenerife, Madrid-based Daniel Abreu, returns with El hijo [the Son], a new creation, in which, as promised, he talks of parents freely and attempts to embody a portrait of man in nature. It is the story of a descendant seen through the prism of dance, but without the superciliousness of magic. This new piece arrives while his success of La desnudez [The Nakedness] is still reverberating. La desnudez won five Max Awards and won its dancer Dácil González the National Dance Award.
Are they siblings, friends, or perhaps a couple? We do not know the exact link between the two beings closed up inside a house, the main characters of Vigor Mortis. We do not know if they are there or they were there. All we know is that they have each other during this trance. Asun Noales from Alicante, director of the OtraDanza Company [Other Dance Company], articulates a form of dance discourse, which, unequivocally, wants to talk about human communication. She called on Rulo Pardo to participate as a playwright and was accompanied on stage by the veteran dancer Carlos Fernández.
Fernando Hurtado, a veteran creator still with his own company in Nerja, has also always been concerned with feelings and emotions. He has expressed them in numerous proposals that deal with themes as diverse as the horror of the Guernica bombing, and pieces for family audiences, such as Caperucita Today [Little Riding Hood Today], or portrayals of human characters, such as Chaplin. His company is currently preparing the premiere of LO(w) COS(t), an important choreography marking its 20th anniversary.
It begins with two friends laying out their table cloth and food for a picnic. They are basking in the sun and enjoying the breeze, at least until they start to question the veracity of the sun and the breeze. Then, everything goes topsy-turvy. This is the approach of Picnic on the Moon, a delirious street creation and the cover presentation of Júlia Godino and Alexa Moya. These two dancers and choreographers from Barcelona have formed a creative partnership since their shared experiences in Belgium.
There is also a field, which, without overstepping the boundaries of contemporary dance, dares to experiment intensely. Such is the case of the proposals by Proyecto Conjugaciones [The Conjugations Project], led by the Andalusian creator Natalia Jiménez Gallardo. Aula [Classroom], her most recent proposal, has been created together with José Luis de Blas, and has been presented as site-specific, i.e. the space itself becomes part of the proposal. As the title indicates, it was made to represent a university classroom. For the premiere, they used one of the rooms at Seville University. There may be various reasons for choosing this space. One would have to do with the transmission of dance movements in a building dedicated to the transmission of knowledge. Another, undoubtedly, alludes to the specific problems in Spain, where there is a distinct lack of dance-related studies at our universities.
Another Andalusian company is the Rosa Cerdo Company, an unusual group led by the choreographer and dancer, Silvia Balbín and the musician Alberto Almenara. Their projects are tremendously original, with no shortage of humour and surprises. After Tangram and Alf, they have staged their third and most ambitious creation to date, Hovering. This performance delves into the realm of magic, with a conjuror engaged in acts of levitation.