Una Última Canción and El Amor Brujo: the Malandain Ballet Biarritz at the capital’s Teatro Nacional
The Malandain Ballet Biarritz Company presented two works at the 23rd edition of Havana’s International Ballet Festival.
Works falling within the codes of dance were presented at the 23rd edition of Havana’s International Ballet Festival. In terms of contemporary dance, it is essential to highlight the performance of the Malandain Ballet Biarritz Company.
The Malandain Ballet Biarritz was created in 1998 under the direction of renowned dancer and choreographer Thierry Malandain. The institution has won the admiration of the public in countries like Spain, Switzerland, Russia, the United States, and Great Britain and in several nations of the Middle East. The quality of their performances and their choreographies were acknowledged in 2000 by the French government, which conferred the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters title on the company.
Made up by dancers of different nationalities, the company has a vast repertoire mainly composed of pieces by Thierry Malandain himself. On this occasion, two works were presented at the Covarrubias Hall of Havana’s Teatro Nacional: Una Última Canción and El Amor Brujo.
The ballet Una Última Canción was premiered on April 13, 2012 at the Opéra de Reims. Now, at the Festival, the Cuban public was able to enjoy it. The dancers’ technical ability and skills at interpretation were demonstrated. Una Última Canción is a gentle ballet of soft movements and sweet emotions. The complicity of each partner to embody the poetry of the last breath of life was exquisite. The final breath given to the other partner as close of choreographies became metaphors of a happy end of existence.
At the same time, the creative genius of Malandain was sensed in scenographic elements like the blue sheet –a metaphor of water, of existence, of the origin of life- and the use of nude with a symbolic function. The naked body, together with the use of water, gives us the impression of being a reference to a rebirth after death, a second life that begins after the last song, the swan song on the earthly plane.
On this occasion, the public enjoyed Thierry Malandain’s version of El Amor Brujo. Based on the original work and taking into account the Andalusian atmosphere and the music of Manuel de Falla, Malandain’s choreography emphasizes the life-death cycle, opposite concepts expressed by the presence of fire, as light, within darkness.
This version was premiered on March 18, 2008, at the Grand Theatre of Luxembourg. It is the revival of a ballet that was first staged in 1914 and that became international in 1925, after its performance by Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina,” at the Trianon-Lyrique in Paris.
Set design and lighting was the first surprise in the staging of this version of El Amor Brujo. Scenography was created by way of leaves that covered the floor and lights were kept in an intermediate level throughout almost all the presentation -alternating between lights and shadows. The combination of these expressive resources made it possible to recreate the atmosphere of spell that animates the entire piece, since it refers to the superstitious beliefs of gypsies.
The French version by Thierry Malandain stood out for the excellent staging of choreography, the recreation of the esoteric atmosphere and the successful interpretation made on stage by each dancer.
Thus, the Malandain Ballet Biarritz left us mired in chords, bars and a host of emotions. Whether in Una última canción or El Amor Brujo, clean movements and the expressiveness and uniqueness of choreographies characterize the company. Let’s hope this is not its last trip to the island and that it returns to Havana for the 24th edition of the Festival.
Photos: Gonzalo Vidal
Translated by Brenda Sheehan