‘Más Acá’ is the first real experience I have with Flamenco.
It is a collaboration with composer and creator of the initial idea and concept, Carlos Ema and dancer, Jessica Achten. From the first day of the creative process, it was clear to me how inspired by and rooted to my country’s most representative artistic expression I am. Images, movements, physical emotions and questions were flying in and out of my head during the days I work with Jessica in the studio.
Why is flamenco such an aggressive dance? Where do all the killing, slapping and threatening gestures come from? That is what mostly caught my attention… The truth is, flamenco was born within the gipsy communities of Spain. Perhaps it is a dance based on fear and the necessity of being strong, rather than a victim. After all, gipsies were a minority coming from abroad, with a different skin color, different culture and tradition.
So, for the very few days we shared the studio, we focused on WHY; why the aggressive gestures, why the symbolism related to bull fighting, or to God; why the face, the shape, the form…
All dance styles have an ego (a shape, a perfect image, the way it should be), we tried to identify it, and most likely failed to get rid of it. We explored the extremes of the flamenco ego (the perfect and extreme image of a flamenco dancer) and the other extreme; humanity.
Who is Jessica, the flamenco dancer? Who is Jessica, the human being? How do those two relate to each other? Does dancing mean one puts on a mask and becomes someone else? Can we relearn to use dance in a different way?
That was my approach, which was with, I admit, very little knowledge about the technique, history and tradition of flamenco. I could only focus on the questions I often ask about anyone or anything- this time in relation to the Spanish folklore.
Then it was time for Carlos Ema to take over-and he surely did. After all, he holds the knowledge and experience. He took the physical work Jessica and I did together and gave it dynamics, form and color, adding a spectacular sound and music layer. An interaction between classical Spanish music by Albéniz, the power of electronics, the pianola and the extreme hard work of the performer, Jessica Achten.
It all came together in a very positive and emotional performance, where masculinity killed it all.
Images credit to Frédérique van Dijk