Review – Compañía María del Mar Moreno: Gala Fiesta de la Bulería de Jerez

London, 25 June 2022

Women, feminism, gender equality – ever so relevant topics, the theme of this year’s gala. The show titled “Mujeres de Cal y Cante” was presented by the the company of María del Mar Moreno, featuring the dancers Pastora Galván and Fuensanta “La Moneta” and the singer Juana la del Pipa. It brought together generations of female artists to share experiences and celebrate flamenco.

While the message about feminism is currently a hot topic, the format of the show was rather traditional. It was split into parts by the different flamenco types, called “palos” in Spanish, with the overarching theme present throughout the performance. Some of the dances were individual, some in group, with the flow of the show being on the slow side. Although there were a number of palos, they were dominated by the “serious” types like soleá and seguiriya; all finishing with a bulería, but overall adding to the rather serious mood of the show. The colour of dresses were also dark with black dominating the colour palette, a hint of red, yellow and white here and there. The stage lighting was simple: static, single colour background. All quite traditional. The tango danced by Pastora was one of the very few joyful dances, with very exaggerated moves and quite over acted, but I have to admit, I quite liked it.

The 3 dancers are of various ages and come from different areas in Andalusia, representing different styles of flamenco dance. María is from Jerez, Pastora is from Seville and La Moneta is from Granada. When dancing together, it was great to see how the same “palo” interpreted by 3 different dancers can give such different character to the dance. These differences add greatly to the variety of flamenco and it was lovely to see these 3 dancers together.

At some point, you could hear the voice of Lola Flores reciting encouragement to women to be strong and independent. Important message shared in an “old fashion” way.

The brief participation of the singer Juana la del Pipa was special. She represents an older generation, and with that a style of signing that I felt lucky to have experienced live. I particularly liked the young singer Saira Malena, I’m sure we will hear her name more in the future.

Overall, it was a traditional performance with a modern topic: drawing attention to women and their role in society, or be it, in flamenco. While I expected the gala to be more cheerful and light, a show for flamenco beginners with alegrías, bulerías, tangos and “cantes de ida y vuelta” – I even took my kids to introduce them to flamenco – it was good fun and they had a good intro to traditional flamenco.