Movement melds with sound

‘LIFE IS A ROMANCE’ Maria Juncal Suzanne Dellal Center August 9 & 10

August 22, 2019 02:37
3 minute read.
Movement melds with sound


Maria Juncal’s unusual, unnerving flamenco dance and music show was as unexpected as it was supremely artful.

The title of Juncal’s latest work, which received its world premiere in Tel Aviv earlier this month, La Vida es un Romance (Life is a Romance) refers to medieval tales to which any number of verses can be added, set to song, known as romances. Juncal takes the model of a romance tale and creates a dance performance around it.

She chooses the concept of a caminante (a wanderer, walker, adventurer, traveler) as the central pivot in her show, endowing the journey with a four-story portfolio, a mini cancionero (songbook).

The stage rings out with guitar and deep song, with clapping and banging, as the very diverse tableaux unfold.

When Juncal appears with her team of singer-songwriters and guitarists, her movements meld with their sound as if she were another instrument in the expression of the shared human experience.

The first dance, De Flor en Flor (From Flower to Flower) sees Juncal emerging from a chrysalis and then from a tunnel of light, taking the first inexperienced steps before being formed into anything, when even the flamenco is not yet visible in her ballet-like movements and youthful athletic attire. She dances a journey of the beauty of self-discovery, of trusting one’s instincts, of empowerment to step outside the protective light into the world.

The second dance is Cancion del Caminante (The Traveler’s Song). Known as a martinete, its rhythm developed in forges and locksmiths.

Juncal, the traveler in this tableau, takes a few steps, waits, rests, hurries, gets lost, and sometimes follows her own footsteps. But she never gives up. Her corporeal expressions dig into the depths of passion and control, holding single movements almost eternally, encompassing the potential of arriving somewhere to give free reign to that expression.

The third dance is Cancion del Agua (Song of the Water). It is a guajira, the term for Cuban-influenced flamenco (some also use the word for Mexican or Argentinian influence), after it has crossed to the New World and returned to Spain.

The last song and dance of the four bears the title of the show. La Vida es un Romance (Life is a Romance). It is known as a solea, the most sacred and intense form of flamenco song and dance that allows the artist full reign in her expression.

Here is finally the Juncal we have been expecting, in all the glory of her authentic flamenco bloodline. Here, draped in a black bata de cola (long flamenco dress with a heavy tail that requires special training to use), she dances life experience, self-acceptance, fear of no one, celebration of the passing of time, as well as respect for life and for seizing the day.

As she gives full reign to the dance expression of living life to its fullest, Juncal brings the totality of her talents to bear, filling in the purposeful gaps left in the earlier tableaux, making absolute sense out of them.

The flamenco climax is so intense that without the slow, at first perhaps even painful build-up, it could never have been achieved.

Clearly Juncal can be relied upon as a choreographer and performer to find a way to give and display the very best of herself every single time.

With Juncal’s return to Spain, and touched by the receptiveness and appreciation of Israeli audiences, La Vida es un Romance now begins its tour at home.

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