Festival Flamenco Artist Reveal #7

The seventh and final artist announced for FFI 31 is the legendary Isabel Bayon!

Isabel Bayon.jpg

"Born in Seville in 1969, Isabel Bayón first took dance lessons at the Matilde Coral school at the age of five. After studying at the Dance Conservatories in Seville and Cordoba she successfully completed her Diploma in Spanish Dance at the age of sixteen. During her career she has performed at numerous national and international festivals and worked with many important figures from the world of flamenco, including, Antonio Mairena, Chano Lobato, Mario Maya, El Pele, Israel Galván and Miguel Poveda. Since she formed her own company in 2001 she has created a series of shows, including, “Del Alma”;”La Mujer y El Pelele”;”La Puerta Abierta”(winner of the Giraldillo Prize for best show);”Tórtola Valencia” (Giraldillo Prize for “magical moment”); “En la Horma de sus Zapatos” (Giraldillo Prize for dance) and “Caprichos del Tiempo” (Critics Prize at the Jerez Festival 2013)."

"Dju Dju directed by Israel Galván, whose premier was in the Bienal de Flamenco of Seville 2016, and currently this show is on tour. She is much in demand as a choreographer for the Spanish National Ballet, directed by Aída Gómez, and the Andalusian Dance Company, directed by Juan Antonio Ruiz, amongst others. Distinctions among others have awarded her in 2011 the ” Special Distinction ” of her professional career by the Provincial Delegation of Seville; in 2013 she received the National Dance Award ; in 2014 received the Clavel Press Award by the Press Association of Seville; and Fuera de Serie Award 2014 by Expansion Magazine, El Mundo. She currently combines her artistic activities with her role as a teacher at the María de Ávila Higher Dance Conservatory in Madrid." (Bio source: http://www.flamencofestival.org/en/artistas/espanol-isabel-bayon/) 

Bayon is presenting the world premiere of Dju Dju at the ABQ Festival. I have been following this show on social media for a while and was sure I would need to travel to Europe to see it, so I was psyched to get this announcement! So much happens in this show - she even twerks!!

Here is the synopsis of the show:

An Israel Galván creation for Isabel Bayón

"Since Gypsies appeared in european culture, the unearthly has followed. Fortune telling, for example, has been one of their most immediate economical resources. They, the Gypsies, culturally did not have a notion of the future, they decided to explore commercially what was a energy resource of european and christian civilization. So, as that moment, magic and Gypsy were born together. Different types of witchcraft, that christianity would reject, were the type of thing that propelled Gypsy culture outside the city walls. It is in Transilvania where that mythology becomes universal. Gypsies appear continuously in novels of the XIX century, in hundreds of stories based on the original Dracula, or in that great scene from Frankenstein where the monster shares a fire with the snub people in the cold of the night without noticing his horrible looks. Before dju-dju or voodoo-that were direct descendants of the colonial exploitation in Central-Africa or the Caribbean - before these practices embodied fear of the unknown, Gypsies embodied that curse. 

Needless to say, Gypsies took those fears to Flamenco. Vicente Escudero misunderstood André Levinson´s good words regarding the danceuses de terroir ( Dancers from their Country) as a praise for some uncertain “horrific dancers”. It is curious that this fact goes somewhat unnoticed, even when we have clear examples in our artistic history like “El Amor Brujo”- ghosts, the terror dance,the spectre- by Manuel Falla who wrote it for Pastora Imperio, or “Superstición Andaluza” a ground-breaking film in the fantasy genre made by Segundo de Chomón in 1912. Fears, superstitions, jinxes tried to be exorcised by Federico García Lorca that theorized about el duende, but without escaping that magical nature- of celtic origin, Washington Irving, for example, mixed nordic arabic mythology in his famous and universal “Cuentos de la Alhambra”. El duende are also the elves. 

And the mengue, some sort of little magical gypsy devil, lived in all the flamenco lyrics from the end of the century. In reality, the authentication campaigns of Flamenco, the positive lectures of the intellectuals, the civilizing complex facing the troubling of the underground, has left us a hygienic vision of what still is a constituting element in the process of making Flamenco. 

And in that swampy world is where Isabel Bayón and Israel Galván are going to get lost. Troubling feelings, magic, superstition, jinxes, fixations, words that mustn’t be said, amulets, magical rituals and everyday rituals. That which you cannot touch with your hands. Yes, the venture does not seem easy, to make visible that which is not. 

Karl Marx who wrote “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof" suggested a magical image to understand capital gains: furniture, that the carpenter had built with effort, started to dance. Marx also gave Gypsies- oh! and Spaniards! - a negative role in matters of cultural production. He situated them in a sinister side, in a depraved reverse of our cultural imaginary. The fact is that Flamenco, gypsies and snub people already knew of this magic that inhabited our material economy much earlier that Marx himself. It is not strange that voodoo is the only formula that many activists resort to fight against capitalism. 

What I mean to say in this interlude regarding materialism is that “Dju-Dju” does not talk about remote or esoteric things. Magic is very much present in our lives, it fundaments our lives beyond our religious beliefs or scientific explanations. As Wittgenstein said, it is a mistake to think that magic corresponds to a primitive state of humanity when in every cognitive process, even in math or cybernetics, it still has a principal function. 

So we are actually trying to know why we tighten our stomachs when we have a bad feeling, why we swear impetuously when faced with a challenge, why we carry our pockets filled with little coins and stones as if our luck depended on them. Everything we do daily without thinking about it and we stop in fear when facing it. The electricity that runs through our body when we are startled. Bad thoughts. Hexes. Bad Luck (”Mal fario”). Luck (“La bají”). Bad omen (“El mal bajío”). Fear. Apprehension. Disgust. Dju-dju." Pedro G. Romero