The Festival de Jerez ended its 24th edition in good health with the ‘Ballet Nacional de España’
The Ballet Nacional de España lowered the curtain on an artistically brilliant edition of this festival, showcasing the continuity of baile flamenco with artists such as Manuel Liñán, María Moreno and Marco Flores.
Saturday, March 8th, was the last day of the Festival de Jerez, an edition characterized by two essential aspects: the great health of the new generation in baile flamenco, and the tension created by the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, not even the latter was able to dampen the success of this event, which was reinforced by an impeccable organization. Since it began on February 21st, the Villamarta Theater hosted a series of shows that attested the quality of the new generation of baile with three specific names: Manuel Liñán (¡Viva!), María Moreno (De la Concepción) y Marco Flores (Rayuela). All three experienced great success in a theater entrusted to three flamenco productions, each of them with a unique vision and having a clear goal in communicating and conveying emotion, which is ultimately what art is all about. The great, established stars such as Sara Baras, Antonio ‘El Pipa’ and Rafaela Carrasco didn’t disappoint anyone, but the freshness of the younger artists added an even more gratifying experience, if that’s even possible.
In smaller venues like Sala Paúl, other artists performed, such as Paula Comitre, possibly the greatest revelation of this edition with her show Cámara Abierta. Her performance revealed an interesting profile, keeping a perfect balance between concept and execution. Other artists like Fernando Jiménez (Conmigo) and Cristina Aguilera (De agua, plata y tierra) also made a good impression. We must take in account that these young artists perform in one of the most important festivals in the world of baile flamenco where expectations are sometimes excessive and hard to surpass even by those with the highest skill and talent.
«This is a festival that’s experienced on the streets. It’s possible to have a glass of wine near the theater together with the artists who just ended a performance. Impressive.»
In this edition, we must highlight two bailaoras from Jerez who continue to grow professionally from an updated and well-defined optic in flamenco dance. Saray García was greatly acclaimed at the Claustros de Santo Domingo venue with her production El sentir de un pueblo, and Carmen Herrera performed once again her show El sonido de mis días with a renewed spirit.
In cante, we were able to enjoy voices such as those of José Domínguez El Cabrero, in his farewell tour with a message as solid as ever, María Vargas and Mateo Soleá, allowing us to experience authentic, traditional flamenco. Younger but well-established cantaores also had unforgettable performances, like David Carpio and Miguel ‘Lavi’, two of the best cantaores of Jerez. Alfonso Carpio ‘Mijita’ showed us his best version with a unique and authentic style.
Rafael Riqueni and his guitar. It was quite something. The González Byass venue hosted this brilliant guitarist who impregnated the cellar’s wine with his vintage genius. Exquisite, subtle, classic, universal… Celestial music.
As we stated before, regarding the performances of February 29th, La Fiesta was supposed to launch a new format that was very appealing on paper, but in practice was very inconvenient for the public. Isamay Benavente, director of the festival, has already confirmed in an interview for Diario de Jerez that there are no plans to use this venue again in future editions of the Festival.
Last but not least, we must congratulate the students who come to take lessons taught by the great maestros of baile. They are the ones who fill the streets, bars and restaurants in these days of celebration. This is a festival that’s experienced on the streets, even as this may sound cliché. It’s possible to have a glass of wine near the theater together with the artists who just ended a performance. Impressive. It’s a magical atmosphere. The peñas flamencas were full in all their recitals, characterized by a popular and friendly ambiance. Let’s now look forward to the well-deserved 25th anniversary of this festival.
Image above: Ballet Nacional de España (photo: Javier Fergo)