Todos las Noches

Todos las noches, which had its Dutch premiere during the Flamenco Biennale on Thursday 25 November at Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, brings together two very different but equally strong and innovative flamenco dancers, Sara Cano and Vanesa Aibar, and singer/guitarist María Marín. Both dance makers came to the festival before, but this is the first work they have created together. The three women circle around each other, giving voice and bodily expression to the thoughts and emotions that haunt them every single night.

In the pitch black, two women stand entangled, their arms and legs wrapped around each other, breathing in and out together, working to control their sighing. But the sighs keep flaring up, sending their shoulders up, their torsos briefly out and away from each other. Just now, it seems, they were crying, or running from something, or making love perhaps. A narrow beam of light defines the space they are allowed. All around them, the stars form a dark circle; after a while a plaintive voice comes from beyond the stars, interacting with a Spanish guitar.

Ultimately, the song draws the women away from each other, inviting first Vanesa Aibar to punctuate the arpeggio’s with her fast, staccato footwork in heels, and then the barefoot Sara Cano with her flowing and wide accolades with the arms. With María Marín’s slightly husky voice accentuating the velvety dark, making it almost a tangible entity, the two allow each other to explore the space and the way their bodies move through it. One reaching out to the heavens, the other bound to the earth. And little by little, night after night, they try to find ways to come closer again.

By keeping the surroundings of their performance so dark, the makers invoke a sense of the subconscious, an effect that for me is underscored by the music and singing, as I don’t understand Spanish. It means the singing remains purely abstract, atmospheric, like the soundscore of a dream, and I like it that way. I see how Marín moves about the space, how her live voice and guitar playing flow into and out of an electronic score. I hear her voice now probing the depths of the night, now directed closely to the dancer’s ear, or responding to the dancers’ fingers snapping, their hands’ slapping a leg or their chest, or daring the dancers to make her play faster to the building rhythm of their stomping feet.

If you thought flamenco was all pride, seduction and ruffled dresses, think again, this show says. This is a much more contemplative, sunken mix of tradition and modern idioms. Again and again, Aibar’s crisp, snappy and fast idiom draws on Cana’s more languid, dreamy moves and vice versa. The two keep returning to their initial pose, breathing close together caught in their narrow light beam, and each iteration brings on a different connotation with the night.

Program Flamenco Biennale

photo: Marjon Broeks