Choreographer Jesús Rubio Gamo opened the 2019 edition of Dansa Valencia with Gran Bolero and I almost skipped it. It’s just gonna go in circles. It’s Ravel’s Bolero. This is what it does: on and on and On And ON AND ON… Then I remembered being really moved by his other work and dissuaded my own skepticism. It was Gran, indeed.
Yes, the pattern was cyclical. Ravel himself once acknowledged the iconic piece had “no contrasts, and practically no invention except the plan and the manner of execution.” But wouldn’t this description apply to like, everything… and life itself?! The manner of execution is all that differentiates our trajectories from birth to death. Minuscule variations seamlessly steering iterations of the basic principle: blood, desire, grief, all come in waves.
Jesus Rubio billed it as a study on “the challenge and pleasure of resistance”. Testing the limits strengthens the core. The same goes for the dance audience experience. Faced with repetition, do I resist or engage? Tasked with following multi-personae narratives, do I hold or release my attention span? What presences and influences in my life span a lifetime? A co-production of Teatros del Canal in Madrid and Mercat de Flors in Barcelona, this performance can even be viewed as an ongoing political pas-de-deux between Catalonia and the Spanish Crown. Any true work of art is made of zeitgeist and cosmos.
Fifty minutes into the pulling and pushing and lifting and disrobing and laying bodies and spirits bare … the lights turn off and the stage goes quiet and in the darkness the audience rises to its feet, applause picking up where music left off… Bolero. Bravo. Encore.
An extra shout-out to designer Cecilia Molano for her fractal street-style costumes!
In case you’re unfamiliar with Maurice Ravel’s classic, here is a famous Soviet cartoon to get you
dizzy clued in. See if you can catch Jesus Rubio Gamo on tour!
P.S. I took the cover image for this post at Teatre Principal in Valencia.