The women of ‘Alba’

In fact, had it not been for the foresight and insistence of Israeli flamenco matriarch Michal Natan, Latorre might not have ever made it to Israel in the first place.

The women of alba (photo credit: ELI GAVISH)
The women of alba
(photo credit: ELI GAVISH)
Choreographer Javier Latorre has created works for companies throughout all of Spain. Over the course of his four-decade career, Latorre has set countless plots to movement, wielding a specific form of dramatic flamenco all his own. But it was only in the past year that Latorre discovered the Israeli home for his creations.
In fact, had it not been for the foresight and insistence of Israeli flamenco matriarch Michal Natan, Latorre might not have ever made it to Israel in the first place.
“I have seen his work many times over the years and have great respect for him as an artist,” explains Natan over the phone. “Then, I was in Spain and we met in a workshop. Afterwards, knowing that he had seen me dance, I asked if he would be interested in collaborating with my company on a new production.”
Latorre’s answer will be revealed throughout the month of December in various locations around Israel. Alba, based on treasured Spanish dramatist Frederico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, marks the first meeting between Latorre and the Compas Dance Company, Israel’s leading repertory flamenco troupe.
“When we got to talking, I asked Javier if he had ever done Lorca, and he said ‘no,’ so it was the perfect opportunity to work together on something new for all of us,” says Natan.
Natan is one of the most powerful performers in Israel today. She was born and raised in Israel, and experimented with many styles of dance, including butoh and classical ballet before discovering her passion for flamenco. Acknowledging a need for further, deeper training, Natan established a path between Israel and Spain, one that she continues to travel regularly. In 1995, she founded Compas, giving voice to a new brand of flamenco, one that drew upon the tradition of Andalusia, with hints of the Mediterranean temperament. On stage, Natan is a force to be reckoned with, a charismatic mover and true conduit for the seismic range of emotions present in flamenco performance.
Alba is an excellent choice for Compas, as it is a tale of strong, volatile and nuanced women. The story follows the Alba family following the death of the domineering Bernarda’s second husband. She and her five daughters struggle to stay in step with one another despite conflicting interests and, eventually, collapse into dysfunction. Lorca’s final work before his death during the Spanish Civil War, this work is largely celebrated and studied as a feminist tome.
“The audience will see the plot as it progresses. The program gives prompts as to what will happen in each scene so that the crowd will be able to easily follow what is happening. But the story is also very clearly present in Latorre’s choreography. It’s dance theater without the verbal element and it is very expressive,” says Natan.
For Natan, who has spent many years in the choreographer’s seat, participating in Alba presented an opportunity to be a dancer again. “It has been so wonderful for me to take a step away from the front and be led by someone else. Being a dancer with the company is such a privilege. I have learned so much watching how Javier moves his thoughts into movement and how he hears the music.”
Compas fans can expect to see a production that follows the artistic line of the company with a few twists and turns, assures Natan. “It’s not for nothing I wanted to work with Javier so much,” she says. “There is something similar in our approach. We both work in an associative way. We both love to draw on classical dance. I think in Alba, our audience will see a new language but I know they will connect to it and understand it.”
And for Latorre, this is perhaps the first of many trips along Natan’s well-worn path between Spain and Israel.
Alba will run from December 9-17 in Ashkelon, Afula, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Yavne and Jerusalem. For more information, visit