A chant climbs like a flame in the darkness. A harsh female voice wraps around a solitary figure whose crown of silver hair shines in the night. His hands harpoon the air and intertwine. She slowly emerges from the night. It is she, Maria Pagés, the flamenco star. With her way of stretching out her arms to embrace the world, of twisting them while curling up on herself in the long train of her blue dress, she opens up space like a corolla.
Maria Pagés is the vibrant central figure of the show From Scheherezade, presented on April 28 at the Teatro Auditorio Ciudad de Alcobendas, in Madrid, and on display at Nuits de Fourvière, in Lyon, on July 10 and 11. Always on tour around the world, this multi-award-winning artist since her debut in the 1990s signs the choreography, supported in the staging by El Arbi El Harti. She gathers around her a troupe of eight young performers with whom, over the course of twelve tableaux, she composes a bouquet of intertwined gestures. Shéhérazade, evoked through a few naive accessories including books, is only a pretext for this piece on female identity, shot through with urgency and tension.
On each side of the stage, five musicians including two guitarists, a violinist, a cellist and a drummer, as well as the two singers, watch over the action. They maintain the sometimes soft, sometimes intense fire of the score signed by Rubén Levaniegos, with Sergio Ménem and David Moñiz, which revisits popular and classic flamenco melodies, but also Moroccan ones.
This double influence blows on the conversation between Pagés and the dancers. From one to the other, their comings and goings draw convolutions which irrigate the stage up and down. A performer takes the tangent, the group supports her in her breakaway then catches up with her. Bubbles of silence and contemplation are chopped by bursts of zapateado (Andalusian popular dance) hectic. Freeze frames pearl these energy exchanges, underlining the beauty of the choir.
In the relay games of this flamenco ballet, the question of transmission circulates quietly. Maria Pagés sometimes hugs the performers as if to protect them and also finds herself surrounded by them. When armed with a cane, she leads the company in a lesson in rhythms, we see her as she must be every day in her work studio.
Since 2018, concerned about the new generation, Maria Pagés, together with El Arbi El Harti, has opened a choreographic center, located in the industrial area of La Casilla, in the suburbs of Madrid. In a country where this type of structure does not officially exist, its offensive approach, between creation, training, attention to heritage and solidarity commitment with young people in particular, makes the voice of an art too little supported heard, which Maria Pagés hears carry always higher and further.
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