Spanish dancer with a seismic force

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La Curva
Israel Galvan
New Zealand Festival
Opera House, Wellington
February 27 – March 2

There are probably a lot of people in Spain who think flamenco dancer Israel Galvan is destroying their national culture as he pushes the traditional dance form into new territories. What the dancer is doing  is changing flamenco into a contemporary art form that mirrors Spains social, political and economic changes.

He is a dancer who performs with the whole body and it sounds as though each part of his body is miked. We hear the sounds of his hands, fingers and feet as he uses not just the floor but also his body, tables, chairs  and other pieces of furniture to create sounds to accompany his incessant, shuddering dancing.

He combines the sprit of traditional flamenco with a contemporary approach. Using his arms, legs, head and body he expresses both the history of the dance and its contemporary relevance, combining the primitive and the sophisticated. He is bull and matador, the keen-eyed jackal, prey and hunter. 

His aggressive masculibe dancing is agile and cryptic. Every step seems considered and meaningful even done at breakneck speed. At times he seems like a mechanical doll while at others he displays a sensuous vulnerability.

Galvan is a consummate peformer and dancer, his feet like jack hammers, his hands like fluttering semaphore flags, his posture that of a gunslinger, his musicality like a thrashing drumkit. At times he is like a siesmic force, raising clouds of dust and making piles of furniture tremble and topple

Accompanying him are two callers, an Andalusian singer, Ines Bacan and an older man simply called Bobote.

Bacan, with her soulful, aching voice like an earth mother's call, adds an emotional dimension to the dancer's perfomance, while Bobote's  rthymic clapping and occasional insistent hectoring provides the call of  an alter ego figure, possibly a former dancer. They reach down to primal expressions of despair. love and loss.

Providng another level of accompaniment is the pianist, Sylvie Courvoisier,  playing a combination of classical  and contemporary music along with some passages for prepared piano, as well as using the piano strings as a harp. She gives weight to the magical and mythical forces expressed by Galvan.

John Daly-Peoples attended the New Zealand Festival thanks to The New Zealand Festival and Quality Hotels

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