Tel Aviv Dance 2007
Miguel Angel Berna (Spain)
While most of the Spanish visiting dance troops that arrive here bring us various flavors of popular Flamenco, Miguel Angel Berna and his musicians introduce an updated version of the Jota, an 18th century folk dance from Northern Spain.
The first detail that struck the eyes as he slithered dramatically center stage, were his pair of soft red suede shoes on all black background.
His lean body assumed the stiff upper body with hips-forward position. A somber look in his eyes and defying facial expression stayed throughout his solo evening Rasmia - a striking and most unique experience.
Berna had taken the folk dance from the Aragon region and turned it into a personal tour de force of rapid and rich foot work that almost deceived the eye, with unusual leaps and heel-clicking jumps and fidgeting hips twists at most unexpected moments.
We were reminded that there is virtuoso Spanish dance outside the realm of Flamenco, if we forgot. It would have been nice if we could see few more facets of the Jota than what Berna had chosen to bring over.
The extraordinary group of five musicians and one singer were integral part of the success of Rasmia. With intriguing adaptations to traditional music, they had supported and strengthened Berna's performance, filled in the gaps between numbers and backed up when his dance rhythms climaxed.
It was a promising opening act of the first edition of the Tel Aviv Dance Festival, replacing DancEuropa of previous years.