Dansa Valencia

January 29, 1998

Àngels Margalit and MarÍ Muñoz in Mudances’s production of Saó.
Photo by Ros Ribas

Dansa València

Various sites, València, Spain
January 29-February 1, 1998

Reviewed by Laura Kumin

An intense festival program (twenty productions in four days) is guaranteed mixed fare. The eleventh anniversary of Spain’s annual contemporary dance showcase was no exception, with some truly inspiring work, a few happy surprises, and the inevitable disappointments.

María Rovira’s Rugged Lines opened with great dynamic punch as the eight performers seated on small black boxes held a circular dialogue, beginning with hands and arms and gradually growing in elevation and complexity. Although Rovira has a sure sense of spatial composition, Martin Matalon’s music, initially so energized and interesting, settles into an unchanging pattern that flattens the work and the dancers, with the exception of the feral Pepe Hevia.

Something similar happened with Francesc Bravo’s El Forat Còsmic (“Cosmic Hole”). Known for a Limón-based movement style gone urban, touches of ironic humor, and music with a bass line that shivers up the seats, Bravo delivered it all in this quintet. A high point was his dynamite duo with the spectacular Tony Aparisi, before Forat ran out of content, although not steam.

Elena Córdoba’s moving Cantos (“Songs”) and Olga Mesa’s Desórdenes Para un Cuarteto (“Disorders for a Quartet”) received partial showings. In Canto #2, “Los Mil Motivos de Consuelo” (“The Thousand Motives of Consolation”), dancer María José Pire beautifully explores identity, self-image, and intimacy with a startling optimism. The extremely casual aesthetic of Desórdenes lives up to its title, although there is more structure here than is apparent at first: film, text, movements designed to exaggerate body angles and parts, and an increase in momentum contrast with sections of sensual, sexual, or scatological exploration.

Skilled comedienne Mar Gómez was inspired by French poet Charles Baudelaire for her zany Levadura Madre a la Madre le va Dura (an untranslatable pun). In this slapstick Thelma and Louise by way of Looney Tunes, the male protagonist begins by making three different women miserable. When one of them accidentally knocks him off the edge of the stage, the three join forces to enjoy themselves while their lover’s ghost seeks revenge.

Emilio Gutiérrez’s Els Cinc Dits d’una Mà Sorda (“The Five Fingers of a Deaf Hand”) conjures a village with a cast of proletarians that is sometimes touching, sometimes comical for his ensemble Projecte Gallina. His skill with characterization and inimitable movement style make Gutiérrez the focal point of this promising piece, which is in need of serious editing to clear away an excess of material.

Àngels Margarit (of Mudances) and María Muñoz (from Mal Pelo) performed the exquisite Saó (the title refers to the earth’s readiness for sowing). Against a simple pastoral background Margarit and Muñoz develop an elegant and tender poetic dialogue that maintains a beautiful pulse and flow and permits their very individual movement styles to blend and contrast effortlessly.

In La Japonesa o La Imposible Llegada a Dédalo (“The Japanese Woman or the Impossibility of Reaching Dedalus”), Danat Dansa combines a tuba player with seven dancers while Josep Sanou’s great score provides a variety of oriental shadings. The set includes a high pole with crossbars from which the dancers can hang, the women’s voluminous parachute silk skirts cascading down. Danat’s great impact on the spectator has always resided in a felicitous marriage of visual imagery and fiercely energetic movement that generates a kind of primitive choreographic poetry. Although some of this remains intact in La Japonesa, the choreography seems less complex and compelling and the excessive manipulation of objects interferes with dynamic development.

Audience favorites Nats Nus’s Pòpulus, Increpación Danza’s F.G.L. (Oídos de Lorca), and Ramón Oller’s impressive rendition of Romeo and Juliet each merit reviews of their own.