Tuesday, November 29

‘Falaise’: fourteen pigeons, a steed and an exercise in hollow spectacularity

The Madrid Autumn Festival was inaugurated with the French company baro d’evel and his show Falaise, cliff in Spanish. A piece of circus and dance theater that did not bet on a structured poetic language, but on circus numbers, yes on an achievement of scenes without narrative roots. The company, directed by the French Camille Decourtye and by Blaï Mateu, a clown of Catalan origin, son of one of the greats, Tortell Poltrona —creator of the stable circus Circ Circ and founder of Clowns without Borders—, was already this year with its previous part, The, in the large room of Matadero Madrid. A smaller piece in format and that aroused many congratulations among the public and critics.

Falaise, on the other hand, is a large format work, with eight dancers and that continues to work with one of the company’s hallmarks: the inclusion of animals on stage. In this case, fourteen trained pigeons and a stunning white steed. In addition, the work has a graceful cast, among whom we can find two interpreters of the depth of Oriol Pla —better known for cinema and television but who has already traveled in theater and important pieces such as ragazo Y Be God is— and Guillermo Weickert, one of the fundamental names in contemporary dance of the 21st century.

A large-format work reminiscent of names on the international scene such as Dimitris Papaioannou, a company that was at this same festival last year. The aesthetics of Baro d’evel is different, very different from the vacuous aestheticism of the Greek. Baro d’evel has an imaginary closer to the Mal Pelo company, drinks more from the universe of John Berger, anti-capitalist and defender of a life rooted in the land and nature. In addition, Baro d’evel has its roots in that itinerant, nomadic world with a certain anarchic and anti-hierarchical touch typical of the circus.

But both, despite their great differences, fall down the same slide. A toboggan where the dramaturgical makes waters and the political and social content are more hollow prints than anything else. A slide where the spectacular goes above the content, hiding behind a supposed poetic code that in theory mobilizes feelings and transcendence and ends up being the achievement of scenes where nothing is explained.

Falaise It takes place in a space of black stone, of pitch, where some beings are lost. A vertical space through whose walls the actors will appear breaking them, opening windows, holes. Thus, as soon as they begin, an actress breaks a hole eight meters high and remains hanging. They will come to her aid with a grand ladder, on top of which, without actually doing a circus number, the actress, never leaving the role, will perform. The spectacular of the circus joins with the poetics of the dance. Thus, a white horse will cross the scene remembering the human ridiculousness that he never finds calm and always seeks. Thus, we will see Weickert dance like a beggar under a lantern with the pigeons that settle in his hands. Poetic scenes that are juxtaposed with others where comic scenes typical of the clown and the theater of the absurd are constructed. Something that, in addition to being too long —the work lasts almost two hours—, always has to have moments where the spectacular looks for the open-mouthed gesture of the audience. Something that, as the show goes on, reveals the search for a European festival format for large audiences: spectacular, friendly and empty.

One of the scenes of the work perfectly synthesizes the proposal. Two characters arrive from the depths of space, they are like the two from Angelus of Millet but shaking hands. Before there has been a dance of popular echoes. We are in the most ideological moment of the piece. These two beings remain still. Suddenly, his clothes crack, they break, the clothes are made of fine stone. We see that image of the peasantry cracking. The image is powerful, it impresses. The couple will end up lying on the ground, embracing. There will begin a dance piece in which the couple will fight, a dance that is also old-style, reminiscent of the dance of the nineties so prey to that technique called contact.

The couple will fight, the music will rise – classical, of course – and, of course, everything will end well. They will look into each other’s eyes, kiss, hug and disappear from the scene. Then there will be a drunken spree, another clown number, another well-executed dance, the horse will pass by again, the pigeons will fly again, like this, without end, without specifying, shielded by sentiment and poetry. Although there are beautiful scenes or dances executed with great technique, the problem of Falaise it is that it lacks substance and has plenty of spectacularity and desire to please.

It is always difficult to inaugurate a contest with the depth of the Autumn Festival. Fill the 843 seats in the large hall of the Teatros del Canal. Inaugurations, we must not forget, also always have a political weight: the authorities and the entire capital intelligentsia are there. And the danger of artistic directions is wanting to please everyone. Offer a large-format work that ends in great applause at the end. But perhaps, the great applause that was experienced yesterday, a wild applause, is not a triumph. Especially when we are facing an edition where the artistic line is risky.

There are names of great theatrical and political weight, such as the Brazilian Jatahy or the Portuguese Rodrigues, and bets from a small experimental theater such as Serrucho, Janet Novas or the Societat Doctor Alonso. It is an edition of weight, attractive and risky. The inauguration, however, was easy, good-natured, hollow. After two hours of performance and so much pretended transcendent poetry, the only scene with a certain political weight, put to search, was one in which one of the interpreters was chased by several microphones to make him speak; he fled, the microphones chased him and overwhelmed the actor ends up fleeing through one of the holes in the wall. It is not very well known why this scene was in the play. But it did not stop having a symbolic resonance with the political present of this theater in which its director, Blanca Li, present and apparently satisfied with the show, has been ignoring the media for more than four months and refuses to answer what has happened in the case of Paco Bezerra, an author who has been unjustifiably removed from the programming of the Teatros del Canal with his work I die because I don’t die. Teresa’s double life.

The play ended in the street, with the company’s troupe animating the party.


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