Pastora Galván… brave, different, free
Pastora Galván has one foot in the best of the past, and the other in the freedom of tomorrow. She fascinates and enthralls, and will leave you breathless if you let yourself be carried away.
On September 16, 2006, dancer Pastora Galván ceased being “the sister of…”. I know this because I wrote it myself after attending Israel Galván’s brilliant work “La Francesa” at the Teatro Central, within the program of the 14th Flamenco Bienal of Seville. It was the definitive kick-start of Pastora’s professional journey, a dancer who knew how to express her own personality within the creativity of Israel with whom she shares a similar yet unique emotional vibe.
It was one of these shows that demands cerebral processing (aka thinking), internal debate, because after a certain age, and as ill-advised as it may be, it’s almost impossible to stop searching for the elusive purity which, in any case, I’m told doesn’t even exist. Even as we “speak”, some artists are in the virtual waiting room of our flamenco screening area until such time as they are finally understood, and their names are no longer linked to tired phrases like “pushing the envelope” or “risk-taking”.
Seventeen years after that triumph, we recently saw Pastora Galván at the Yerbabuena Festival in Las Cabezas de San Juan, and the lady seems to have found her personality after years of cultivation. It’s undeniably original, despite emitting a strong whiff of old Triana. Yes yes, I know, it’s the suggestive African dance known as “twerking”. Swivel hips, erotic insinuation, a low center of gravity. Pastora manages to evoke all that, and some closed minds don’t quite accept it (perhaps because of the “pure” notion). For others, the majority, Pastora Galván is a free spirit who delivers her dance wrapped in a bold statement of “here I am, wanna make something out of it?”
It’s a sparsely populated creative field. We think of “art”, and there’s an association with beauty, suggesting subtlety with a dose of courage and nobility of spirit. Like the so-called Seville school of flamenco dance, perfectly represented in all its splendor by the grand dame Matilde Coral. But Pastora doesn’t refrain from using exaggeration that recalls Israel’s fascination with Butoh, a style of contemporary Japanese dance known for its grotesque movements. Thus, we have a case of avant-garde inherited from her brother Israel, which leads back to the traditional (pure?) style of her father, José Galván, passing through a flamenco zone where we feel right at home.
The map is blurry, but Pastora knows well how to navigate the terrain. It’s not a refreshed past, but the future contemplated as if it had already happened in an undefined time zone long ago. She shows there are no clear boundaries, everything is art and inspiration, whether you’re toppling chairs, dancing on marbles (as Israel Galván has done), or handling a shawl and fan (like Pastora).
She abstracts movements that are presumed to be “classical”, turning them into contemporary ones, while also, in another of her works, wearing knee-high granny socks or dancing barefoot.
Others go topless or undress on stage with no further ado. Pastora, wearing big white bloomers, mischievously shakes her rear at the audience. In this light, her twerking appears to be harmless child’s play with the unmistakable mark of her brother. The siblings are light-years apart while sharing a parallel path, namely: anything goes, nothing is ruled out.
Pastora Galván has one foot in the best of the past, and the other in the freedom of tomorrow. She fascinates and enthralls, and will leave you breathless if you let yourself be carried away. Perhaps this was the purity we were looking for all along.