‘Dance for Me’ is an exciting and innovative new show which aims to break down the boundaries between music and dance. It focusses upon the sensations and feelings associated with these two art forms, as opposed to the formalities of a traditional story and plot, although, of course, narrative elements will also be present.
‘Dance for Me’ has been inspired by creative traditions from the city of Granada – a magical and curious place unlike other areas of Spain due to its staggering beauty, unusual landscape, and fascinating historical, artistic, and political background. Moreover, Granada is a city very much well-renowned for its dance and musical traditions – which are of course performed and celebrated in this invigorating show – such as the dance of Granada born-and-bred poet/playwright Federico García Lorca, dance based on the work of musician (and Lorca’s artistic companion) Manuel de Falla, and the ‘Zambra gitana’, a well-known Andalusian flamenco dance.
This new production has been partly choreographed by Patricia Guerrero, who was awarded the Spanish National Award of Dance in 2021, a MAX Award in 2019, a ‘Giraldillo’ Award by the Seville Biennale in both 2016 and 2012, and the ‘Desplante’ Award by the ‘Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas’ in 2007. The show was also partially choreographed by the well-known and the excellently renowned maestros Javier Martos, Mariano Bernal and Raimundo Benítez. ‘Dance for Me’ has the potential to tour in two different formats: either with fourteen performers (seven dancers, four musicians and three technicians), or with a full cast of eighteen people in total (with eleven dancers, four musicians and three technicians), so there is flexibility for different stage sizes.
Regarding the structure of the show, it begins with Lorca’s dances: the ‘Bulería’; or the ‘Romance de la luna’. As is often the case with the work of this Andalusian artistic maestro, this initial section of the performance is full of passion which is expressed through the dancers’ intense movements and pained facial expressions. Lorca’s original lyrical poetic piece is reflected here beautifully through the somewhat more abstract nature of the dance. The second one of Lorca’s is the ‘Seguiriyas’, or the ‘Poema de la Siguiriya gitana’ – which originally concentrates upon Lorca’s fascination for the Andalusian gypsies. Therefore, this section takes inspiration from poetic symbolism and seemingly draws from the raw, primitive emotions of dance; in other words, it effectively expresses the free spirit of the traveller community.
Finally, in what we can describe as Lorca’s ‘trilogy, we have the ‘Tientos’: the ‘Zorongo gitano’, a popular Andalusian three-step type of song. In ‘Dance for Me’, this is conveyed through one very passionate female dancer, dressed in traditional traveller attire, giving a sensual portrait of intrigue and mystery. Her partner joins and they engage in moments of intimacy, giving a private and thoughtful moment for the audience to reflect upon, as if it is a refuge from the overwhelmingly intense passions which had aroused beforehand in the performance.
In Manuel de Falla’s section, we are greeted by the ‘Canción del fuego fatuo’, a very intense and striking piece, which between moments of quietness and sensitivity breaks through to the crux of the viewer’s attention with its jolting, snapping motions; tension that could almost be cut with a knife. This is subsequently followed by the ‘Danza del molinero’, the second part of Falla’s section. This is arguably the part of the show which focuses most greatly upon the narrative: two men expressively telling the story of a milliner with dramatic intensity and force through the ever-powerful medium of dance; perhaps this is also one of the most light-hearted pieces and it really allows the audience to engage with the characters.
Falla’s section is completed with ‘La vida breve’: an upbeat piece with multiple dancers whose character relationships become increasingly evident through the show. The dancers’ acting performance skills truly come to the forefront here which is of course aided by their outstanding footwork and command of their dance movements.
The third section of ‘Dance for Me’ is the ‘Zambra gitana’, a type of dance and music which is said to have been inspired by and been an evolution of some traditional Moorish dances – here beginning with the ‘Alboreá’. This is a lyrical vocal piece which conveys an engaging and beautiful sense of storytelling; with the quietness of the music creating a sense of intimacy onstage, the singer’s voice is truly enhanced, and it makes for a profoundly charismatic atmosphere which is simultaneously moving and haunting, thus demonstrating the fact that ‘Dance for Me’ is a ground-breaking show which crosses through to multiple diverse emotions.
‘Alboreá’ is then followed by the ‘Fandango del Albaicín’ and then the ‘Tangos’, an exciting and upbeat series of dance numbers which give the viewer a sense of catharsis after the intensity of the previous acts. Accompanied by the singing, the ‘Tangos’ truly captures the authentic spirit of Andalucía and of the traditional gypsy community in this area of Spain. The fourth sub-act of the ‘Zambra Gitana’ is the ‘Cachucha’ which features pairs dancing together whilst others accompany them onstage. This feels very much like a community-driven dance number which invigorates the audience and leaves the performance on a high note.
The final section is a ‘soleá de Granada’ with all artists performing on stage. In addition, the whole show can be concluded with a ‘fin de fiesta’ (end-of-party) dance, which feels like a refreshing departure as this final section of the performance is entirely improvised by the dancers. This feels unique and it is a delight to get the opportunity to see the dancers playing and being experimental with their outstanding craft. All in all, ‘Dance for Me’ is a very ground-breaking piece of new work which will appeal to audiences of all ages all around the world thanks to its versatility and unique qualities.