Dedication and dignity of María del Mar Moreno, “Memoria Viva”
«All in all, an enjoyable evening despite the excessive length, and I forgot all about the face-mask».
The synopsis starts straight out referring to the much-needed catharsis of the pandemia, which has changed our lives so profoundly, no one can deny it. If art is the sublimated reflection of real life, flamenco, in all its breadth, gives us the emotional tools to assimilate a tragedy of the dimension we’re having to deal with. This is when art is no longer a mere pastime, but an absolute necessity. After a string of previous works that were more or less theatrical, Jerez dancer María del Mar Moreno has chosen to return to a more basic code, and again I cite the program notes to synthesize the intent to bring the powerful simplicity of flamenco singing and dancing to the forefront. In other words, no contrivances or elevated concepts this time around, just the power, the incredible dynamic power of this genre which those of my generation always long for. María del Mar has the preparation to make it happen, and last night she delivered her version of classic flamenco with contemporary references that managed to avoid the work turning into a nostalgia fest, although some young people would apply the derogatory label of “tablao flamenco”.
Well yeah, OK, the show was too long, which is typical of the tablao format. Long set pieces, with an extreme overload of footwork resulted in a show that was nearly two hours long, which was excessive for many people. But that’s a mere anecdote. As far as the main resources, the elements of voice, dance and guitar, no serious flamenco follower could complain. The guitars of Santiago Moreno and Malena junior got right to the point, sharp and dynamic with an intelligent equilibrium between contemporary and traditional. A spectacular line-up of singers, who tend to be the ones who know how to open the great big door to flamenco, really set the mood: Antonio Malena, Dolores Agujetas, José de los Camarones, Elu de Jerez, El Tolo, Saira Malena y José El Berenjeno. It takes knowledge and good taste to organize a string of voices, concepts and generations such as these.
The current state of alarm prohibits the use of the word “puro” (just joking), so let’s call it classic flamenco, which doesn’t change the original product at all, a rose by any other name… Young Saira Malena defended herself admirably next to the veteran singers, and José de los Camarones demonstrated that he doesn’t deserve the tepid interest he too often receives. Antonio Malena did Antonio Malena, the role he fills so well, Elu de Jerez, the powerful flamenco lady, Dolores Agujetas, less savage this time, but more sincere, raising goose-bumps like few others.
It was a standard repertoire, martinete, bulerías, fandangos sitting around the wooden table and the dense aroma of San Miguel singing. Noteworthy was the taranto of María del Mar, bulería por soleá, and the slick dancing of Miguel Ángel Heredia with his elegant stylized moves.
Black wardrobe and back-drop, no surprise here, but with intelligent illumination that made it possible to see the artists’ faces. All in all, an enjoyable evening despite the excessive length, and I forgot all about the face-mask.
Photos: Javier Fergo – Festival de Jerez
Cast,“Memoria Viva”. Teatro Villamarta, Jerez de la Frontera, 12 May, 2021 8;30. Dance: María del Mar Moreno, Miguel Ángel Heredia, Rocío Carrasco, Manuel Jiménez. Voice: Antonio Malena, Dolores Agujetas, José de los Camarones, Elu de Jerez, El Tolo, Saira Malena, José El Berenjeno. Guitar: Santiago Moreno, Malena Hijo. Percussion: Ale de la Gitanería. Palmas: Ale de la Gitanería, Javi Peña. Director: María del Mar Moreno