We’ll try to be brief this time. We’ll try to get to the point. The music, that’s the point: The music that has sounded throughout Israel Galvan´s shows and which now are free of plots, scripts or theatre. Los Zapatos Rojos, La Metamorfosis, Galvánicas, Arena, El Final de este Estado de Cosas - Redux, Lo Real/Le Réel/The Real… without a story line, just followed by body´s inertia and rhythm. Nothing but music.
That was the goal, to lighten one of the most brilliant elements of Israel Galván’s performances: the sound. The thing came about in stages in events near Sevilla related to charity, where Israel and a select group of his musicians recycled some audio tracks, offering brief burts of joy to the audience. We all know that Israel Galván is a machine and hi music sounds here in all its purity. Just music! Music is one of the main characteristics of flamenco dance in general and Israel Galván´s dance in particular. The body is an instrument and it is not just percussion but also wind, brass and strings. Oh yes, the body speaks. If it twists in front of Elo Cantón’s violin, it sounds more like wood. If it stands facing David Lagos or Tomás de Perrate, it is more body, redundant. Caracafé is almost his twin, sometimes right-handed and other times sinister. And it is more flamenco when it stresses the percussions and brasses of Proyecto Lorca.
Israel Galván has always shied from fusion music, which is a strange music genre, lazy and obvious. Assembling elements is his forte, as in traditional flamenco, like editing film tapes. He knows how to compose with pieces and bits. Certainly he brings over different references: Tárrega does not appear in the rondeña but Ligeti,. It is not Albéniz which opens the granaína but Luigi Nono. But the meaning is the same: flamenco music in its primitive status, still boiling before it started crystallizing into stones.
It is here that reason we see that the taranto gets related to the tarantella or that the tangos follow the path of rebetik. We find lyrics of Hugo Ball and music of Mauricio Sotelo in the toná, and verdiales by Anthony and the Johnsons. In this concert there is also a present given long time ago to Israel Galván by the great Enrique Morente. A definition about what he does and the way he does it: “I was stone and I lost my center / I was dropped into the sea / and a long time after / I found my center again”. These classic lyrics appear as soleá and malagueña, in a piece with drums by Lagartija Nick. Morente said that flamenco was about translating tradition, being conscious of the betrayal inherent in the process.
Israel Galván does not confuse game with lightness, making combinations can also be a serious matter. That’s why when he reviews his career, when he tries to express how is it to live with all that music on your shoulders, with so many body shapes, with that many sounds in his head, then he often uses the metaphor of the whale, associating it with the white whale, the life of the artist, the creator, like Moby Dick, the Leviathan and Job, before being expelled onto the beach. There is a poem (“inside of the whale all is scrambled: furniture, books, watches”) from flamenco singer Charo Martín, which perfectly expresses the healing qualities of that journey inside the whale. Israel Galván is both the whale and its broken inside, Captain Ahab catching it and the Leviathan engulfing them both.
In addition, on this occasion Israel Galván invited Patricia Caballero to help him manage gestures and times. That happened previously in La edad de oro: As it is a show open to change, its own development suggests that in each performance things have to be tested, fdiscoveries revived, new elements introduced. It is a space of freedom in which Israel Galván remembers and rehearses the old and the new. Maybe you don’t know Patricia Caballero's dance, but her show Lo raro es que estamos vivos would make you understand Israel Galván’s choice very well It is not about operating on words or things; it is about time management, a rare idea of time where chronological and atmospheric aspects are mixed.
It is often said that Israel Galván plays freely with the distinctive elements of flamenco. Too often people have talked at the same time about deconstruction and constructivism. And there is some of that not only in Israel Galván but also in flamenco. Almost miraculously, a group of artists close to the margins of society knew how to join forgotten scores to Cuban rhythms, old melodies to melismas and jipíos. They merged African drums into different polytones, as it is called nowadays. Here you have one more sample. The order of syllables may have been changed, but it is still flamenco.
-PEDRO G. ROMERO, Artistic director
NATIONAL HISPANIC CULTURAL CENTER