Criss-crossing a city by following the map of its dance halls turns out to be an exciting treasure hunt. Just as Buenos Aires reveals a little of its mystery through the milongas, the mecca of tango, Seville tells its flamenco story through its tablaos, its new theaters and its kitsch shops twirling with polka-dot aprons. From Triana, the former gypsy quarter, located on the right bank of the Guadalquivir, to La Macarena, the popular beating heart located opposite, via the city center, it is impossible to escape it. And when you get confused in the alleys looking for the studio of the star Andrés Marin or that of José Galvan, father of Israel, you come across, as if by chance, on another hectic school of clicking your heels.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has been there, Seville is more than ever the cradle of flamenco, pouring local craftsmanship and global industry. The two faces intertwine in an obviously weakened economy whose resources are found abroad rather than in Spain. Little broadcast in the theaters of their country, the dancers, who hide in the tablaos, also give lessons, in particular on social networks for two years, to ensure their daily life. In other words the need to help each other to promote this major art registered in 2010 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

Unifying co-production

This state of mind cements the 33ᵉ edition of Arte Flamenco, in Mont-de-Marsan, a flagship festival, with that of Nîmes. While there are fewer and fewer large-format pieces, the opening show, Monday June 27, which features seven performers and five musicians, is the result of a united co-production. She relies on the name of the young star Patricia Guerrero and her new opus, Deliranza.

Around the table, the Flamenco Biennial of Seville, a springboard for the genre, the International Music and Dance Festival of Granada, the Andalusian Cultural Institute responded to the proposal of Arte Flamenco. “It is necessary today to unite to support the changes in the flamenco scene, underlines Sandrine Rabassa, artistic director of the festival. We all want to work together to help young artists. »

Well surrounded but eagerly awaited, Patricia Guerrero, 32, takes the risk of taking up the challenge of a flamenco ballet, with a shock team made up of prominent soloists. Initiated at the age of 3 by her mother, Maria del Carmen Guerrero, crowned “revelation” at the Seville Biennale in 2012, Patricia Guerrero is now one of the dancers and choreographers who count. In rehearsal, Wednesday June 8, at the Teatro Central, she attacks the stage. Black skirt, taut silhouette, rock energy. She throws her arms far and wide, hooks her feet to the ground, as if she wanted to smash the floor. She searches her gesture from the inside, constantly seems to want to escape her certainties to draw a stripped line in space. “I’m in a dream where you do the same thing over and over again,” she explains next. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, running around in a parallel world. »

This introduction signs the very feminine programming of Arte Flamenco. “It’s a feminine who dares and takes risks,” insists Sandrine Rabassa. There is creative madness in the dancers we support. » Of which act with the figurehead, Eva Yerbabuena, 52, offensive, clean. In her studio on the outskirts of Seville, she prepares and refines the rhythmic settings of her quartet Al Igual Que Tu, supported by six singers and musicians. His zapateado (foot strikes) hammer dry.

With her husband, composer and guitarist Paco Jarana, she was one of the few not to do streaming lessons during the health crisis. “I listened to a lot of music, especially operas sung by Callas,” she says in front of photos of Pina Bausch. I remembered what made me grow. And that calmed me down. »

“Necessity of the gesture”

This quest for serenity envelops the spectacle that is played out on the ruins of “a house that once existed but no longer exists”. “It is true that this piece was a way of healing from this difficult moment of confinement by immersing yourself in the creative process, she continues. For me, it was a question of returning to extreme simplicity. »

To accompany him in this crossing “until there are no more words, no more musical notes, no more strength, no more breath”, the dancer Fernando Suels Mendoza, leading personality of the company of Pina Bausch for many years is there, like “an angel fallen from heaven”. “We worked together with great freedom,” says Fernando Suels Mendoza. Even if the gestural form is different, we finally speak the same language, Eva and I, the one that goes to the essence of the need for the gesture as with Pina. »

This tension to extract the marrow from the movement is immediately perceptible in the dance of 36-year-old Lucia La Pinona. Spotted since her first piece in 2012, she welcomes us, Thursday, June 9, in a tiny place located in a cellar. Inspired by the work of the poet Juan Manuel Flores (1943-1996), she conceived Abril, with a gypsy singer and a female choir. Religious songs rise, while on the keyboard Pepe Fernandez offers some jazz-rock notes.

With a focused, serious face, La Pinona begins to swirl her bata de cola noir, the traditional long ruffled train that is experiencing a resurgence in popularity among the new generation. His style is ample, powerful. Contrary to her nickname, “La Pinona”, which is actually a honey cake, there is nothing sweet about Lucia. “A friend gave me this nickname and I kept it,” she laughs.

Like Patricia Guerrero and many of her colleagues, Lucia La Pinona earns her living by dancing in the tablaos. “Because of the health crisis, more and more high-level artists find themselves in these places for tourists, explains Sandrine Rabassa. This obviously creates a difficult situation for the lesser known, who lose the possibility of earning money. Lucia La Pinona confirms: “We don’t have any financial aid here, and that allows us to live a little better.” Not to mention that it is a wonderful space of freedom to create. »

For shining proof, the performance of Rafael Campallo, on view twice a night at the Los Gallos, a well-known cabaret in the center of Seville. Whoever was a mason during the pandemic chose to work there every day.

Wednesday, June 8, in front of an audience of tourists, he wears a total bright green look. Neither one nor two, he dynamites the pocket handkerchief that is the stage. Crackling, light, he plants his eyes in those of the spectators, smiles constantly, visibly enjoys intensifying his angry and joyful flamenco ever more. “Here, we can’t hide anything, everything is in public view,” he comments. I love that. ” And U.S. too.