Rocío Molina

Rocío Molina  deserves a post without any further explication.

Contemporary flamenco dancer, who “reinvented flamenco” – according to 1843 (the magazine of The Economist). I only decided to write about her now, when I heard her big news: she is expecting! Why is this relevant on a flamenco blog? Oh, for so many reasons. Before I explain, let’s talk a bit about who she is.

Rocío is a flamenco dancer from Málaga, born in 1984 to a former ballet dancer mom and a chef dad. At 17, she graduated with Honours at the Royal Dance Conservatory in Madrid and danced in professional flamenco companies for a while, including the one of María Pages, but soon started her solo career. She presented her first work “Among the walls”  (Entre paredes) at the age of 22, which was strongly criticised by the traditional flamenco world. This was followed by many more self-creations such as “Turquoise as a lemon” (Turquesa como el limón, 2006), “Old Gold” (Oro Viejo, 2008), “When stones fly” (Cuando las piedras vuelen, 2009), “Affections” (Afectos, 2012), “Ardora’s forest” (Bosque ardora, 2014), and “Fallen from Heaven” (Caida del Cielo, 2016). I was lucky to see a few of them in Spain and in London, in the Barbican; my absolute favourite being “Affections” with Rosario, La Tremendita (the favourite flamenco artist of my friend X.).

The first official recognition came in 2006 with the “Dancer of revelation” title from the critic “Flamenco Today” (Flamenco Hoy), and many other awards followed. Just to mention a couple: in 2008, she received the Giraldillo Award for Best Choreography and Best Dancer Award in the Seville Bienal, and in 2010, she received the Spanish National Award for Dance from the Ministry of Culture. More interestingly, after her performance of Old Gold in the New York City Center, Mikhail Baryshnikov kneeled before her at the door of her dressing room! And if this wasn’t enough, in 2017, the Spanish newspaper ‘El Mundo’ included her in their list of 50 most influential homosexuals in Spain.

My personal preference has always been the more traditional flamenco dance, but I have always said that the talent, innovation and courage of people like Rocío Molina and Israel Galván, have to be acknowledged and respected. They are geniuses of our times in a way, whether they are understood, accepted or liked…

If it’s possible to top all this,  she has done it with her latest creation, ‘Grito Pelao‘. This production is about maternity, becoming a mother – in this case, a single mother – with all the fears and excitement that this entails; it is also a tribute to women giving birth every single day, and an homage to life itself. People ask all sorts of questions: But isn’t she lesbian? And isn’t she single? Yes and yes, but does that really matter? Without going into her personal choices in life, I want to talk about this. We can talk about this, because she talks about it in her show, in her performance. Artists always say that their way of expressing themselves is in their art, therefore their creations will always be personal and unique(!). This latest show of Rocío is special, even exceptional. Not only because she dances while being pregnant. Obviously, you cannot compare, but I have also danced when I was expecting my daughter K. When one’s body is used to regular dancing, then dancing can be continued, having taken the obvious precautionary steps. It is not necessary to stop right away: the intensity can be lowered, the steps can be changed, the moves can be softened. In Rocío’s case, the jumps can be eliminated. This is what Rocío has done. She created this show, before actually getting pregnant, when she was dreaming about becoming a mother, and when she got pregnant, she adapted the show, so that she can continue dancing it.

I think it is special, exceptional and fascinating, because as a contemporary art production from a contemporary artist, it places into a contemporary scene the eternal topic of maternity. A gay single woman’s journey towards maternity makes us think about IVF and single parenthood. We may agree or not, we may like it or not, but this exists, now, in our lives, in the XXI. century. There are women who dream about becoming mothers, even if they are single; there are gay men and women, who dream about becoming parents, even if they don’t have a man or woman in their lives. And there is IVF: a solution for them and for many other “traditional” couples, who are having difficulties. But no one talks about this, or not much at least. Not even in modern, open London.

I do believe that the way forward is via communication and transparency in all areas of life. We talk about this at home with my husband, I talk about this on forums at work.

Now, I am not trying to open Pandora’s box and talk about something that I have no idea about. I just want to draw attention to people, like Rocío Molina, who are raising awareness, even if this is not their/her primary intention. Rocío is just expressing her feelings and her fears through the art she knows (and is so good at!), and I like that. Saying that, I have not seen the show (yet). I only read reviews, saw videos, heard flamenco critics and flamenco radio programs talk about it, heard Rocío, Lola and Silvia talk about it. In the production, besides the mother of Rocío, Lola Cruz, the singer Silvia Pérez Cruz and a 4th lady participate (I suppose a guitarist, but there was always a bit of secrecy in the interviews about this 4th person, so I am not 100% sure who she is). Considering the fact that Rocío is 7 months now, I may not see this production in its current shape and form, so I can only wish for one thing:

Long continue the career of Rocío, so we get to enjoy more of her spectacular creations!

Chapeau, mon amie.

Dance, dance, dance

Throughout my years of flamenco love, I have been searching for years for the perfect dancer, the true flamenco bailaor/a. But the end of this story is not that I found it. Only after long years I came to realise that it doesn’t exist. There is not one dancer who is perfect, or is the true flamenco. As our friend, J. says: “We are all different. Isn’t that wonderful?”

All the different dancers add a bit of themselves to the colour palette of flamenco and their uniqueness makes flamenco so colourful and diverse. Variety is beauty. Not only in flamenco, in everything. And there shouldn’t be one idealised dancer because reality is that WE ARE ALL different, therefore the dance of each individual should also be different.

Matilde Coral is different from Manuela Carrasco, even though both are from Seville, but representing different schools, different styles. Eva Yerbabuena and Farruquito are two different worlds, just like María Pagés and Gema Moneo. Sara Baras is nothing like Pastora Galván. Marco Flores is nothing like Manuel Liñan. And thank the Lord for that! How boring would it be if they all danced the same?!

There are dancers who bring flamenco even further, testing the established limits. Have you heard about Israel Galván? Or Rocio Molina? When you see them for the first time, you’ll ask: “What is this? This is not flamenco.” It is certainly not traditional flamenco, but they are using flamenco for creating something new, going beyond the boundaries of traditional flamenco. Don’t expect flamenco when you go see them, and you won’t be disappointed. You can just enjoy art, dance, music. Opinions of course vary. Some say what Israel Galván does, is not flamenco, he is simply crazy. Others adore him and his inventions. These new creations tend to succeed first outside of Spain and then in Spain. The reason behind is the group of people, called purists, who defend the traditions and the purity of old flamenco by basically rejecting everything new. I don’t think they can be blamed too much, because this must also be done by someone. It can be disputed how strict they should be but this is such a complex topic that deserves a post.

A. says Israel Galván is a genius. He knows his tradition so well that it allows him to make fun of it by taking flamenco beyond itself and create something new, something unbelievable!

The last show of Isabel Bayón, choreographed by Israel Galván, ‘Dju-dju‘ was utterly brilliant (I wanted to use this expression since I first heard it during the 2012 London Olympics…). The greatest theatre play I have recently seen. Knowing Israel was behind the show, we have absolutely loved it!

Similar to ‘Reversible‘ of Manuel Liñan. I wanted to see the show because I have never seen a man dance with ‘bata de cola’, the long tail of a special flamenco dress. I not only saw a man dance with bata de cola but saw the most exciting flamenco show in years! Fresh, new, thoughtful but at the same time traditional! Fascinating.

I love the dance of Adela Campallo, La Lupi and Pastora Galván. I find them very feminine and love how they represent traditional flamenco.

I have always liked Mercedes Ruiz and her shows which are never one big show (like the shows of Sara Baras, Carmen or La Pepa), but lots of different, individual dances under the same theme.

I am now discovering more male dancers: Manuel Liñan, José Maldonado, El Choro, Antonio El Pipa… they simply rock!

And my all time favourite is Lucía Ruibal. She encompasses every feature of a true flamenco: she has the tradition deep within, the technique with excellent footwork and beautiful hands/arms, and her love of flamenco and passion for dance, make her outstand among all the new talents.

I recently heard an interview with El Carrete de Malaga, an almost 80year old gentleman who has been a flamenco dancer all his life. He was asked what dancers he liked and he answered : Antonio, el Bailarín, Antonio Farruco and Fred Astaire, because he also danced a type of bulería! There you go. Who said that flamenco can only be danced by flamencos?