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Israel Galván

March 18, 2014

La Edad de Oro

Photograph by Felix Vazquez

Israel Galvan Photograph by Felix Vazquez

Reviewed March 18, 2014

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

Flamenco is the voice of the soul. Culturally hundreds of years old, it’s an art form that has passed down through the ages, allowing each new artist/performer to stamp it with his or her own individuality. It’s that kind of art – the song and the dance – an extravagant passion, where discipline meets freedom of expression.

Because its history stretches back into the shadows of time, and because it has continued to push its way through the ebbs and flows of the Gypsy, Moorish and Andalusian cultures, it lends itself to reinterpretation over and over.

Israel Galván, born into a family of dancers some 40 years ago and a prize-winning performer, brings an interpretation of flamenco that harks back to tradition and yet is uniquely contemporary and surprising. His movement speaks of his ability to transform “la edad de oro” of flamenco into a new type of golden excellence. He engages the audience with the immediacy of his footwork and hand gestures, his insistent rhythm and a peculiar sense of humour. The passionate essence of his creativity reflects an unparalleled pride in the dance that is his art.

One might imagine señoritas in colourful billowing skirts when one thinks flamenco, and certainly such a performance is beautiful indeed to behold, but if you consider this art form originated with the poor and oppressed of the 15th century, it is more than appropriate to witness a trio of performers dressed completely in black as are Galván and the Lago brothers.

Clad in tight pants and a short-sleeved long-tailed shirt, buttoned to the neck, unhindered by color and flourish, the wiry Galván dances the melancholy, the agony and the gusto of the flamenco with an updated flair nevertheless. His feet are finely tuned, his hands are trained to speak wonders and his facial expressions, down to a teasing lifting of a brow, are priceless.

Precise and percussive, his thunderous feet embellish the tempo. Light and feathery, his talkative hands draw on the accompaniment by brothers David and Alfredo Lago. The stage is a transient air current on which, bird-like, Galván swoops and plays – because he DOES play with the space and with the silence as well as with the voice and the music.

While David and Alfredo Lago accompany Galván with voice and guitar respectively, they are as much a part of the performance as Galván. In an amusing encore performance, when the three are called back to the stage, Galván attempts an imitation of David’s lamenting seguiriyas, while Alfredo shakes his hips in an effort to dance like Galván, and David strums his brother’s guitar. A second encore means another switch – Galván struggles with the strings, David stomps his feet on the stage and Alfredo tries his voice. A humorous ending that nonetheless emphasizes the individual talents of the three performers when they are contained in their natural places!

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From → Folk

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