Olga Pericet did not cease to amaze audiences at the Ford Theatres Saturday night, September 21st, with her performance, La Espina: The Thorn that Dreamed of Being a Flower or the Flower that Dreamed of Being a Dancer. Olga Pericet is a superstar in the dance world, known for her astounding technical abilities and versatility in Flamenco and Spanish classical dance. Originally from Cordoba, Spain, Pericet studied with masters of Flamenco and Spanish dance including, Matilde Coral, Manolo Marin, Cristobal Reyes, La Tona, and many others. Well versed in the traditional forms of Flamenco, Pericet has begun pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally viewed in Flamenco in her choreography. This is evident when she begins her show performing footwork in the opening piece with Flamenco shoes on her hands and feet in downward dog. As peculiar as some of her choices may seem, however, Pericet’s choreographies bring these choices together to create bold and thoroughly dissected concepts brought to life in her shows.
Pericet brings some of Flamenco’s best theatrical elements to this show such as humor, drama, and individuality and truly makes them her own. Throughout the show, Pericet dives between very serious and humorous moments. It is hard to hold back the laughter when Marco Flores and Olga Pericet are both on stage, with bent elbows, clucking their heads like chickens. At certain points it is difficult to fully understand what Pericet is going for, but the underlying message seems to be that Pericet can be and do anything. She does not allow any concept of her as a dancer to limit what she does on stage. Pericet shows us throughout that she has incredible range reaching from traditional Flamenco to her more avant garde works. The piece of course gives the impression of exploring Pericet’s relationship with herself as a dancer, but also the many relationships that tie into her relationship to Flamenco as a woman.
La Espina was performed and choreographed by Olga Pericet with choreographic consulting and performance by Marco Flores. Guitarists included Antonia Jimenez and Jose Almarcha, with cante performed by Miguel Lavi and Jesus Corbacho. All performers gave a stellar performance and each musician had beautiful moments throughout the show to demonstrate their full artistic talent capacities. The entire cast had a very strong connection on stage and were able to come together musically to create these landscapes that told Pericet’s story. Danced in a bata de cola, I can still see the breeze moving through Pericet’s red ruffles on her dress as she performed the silencio of an Alegrias; elegance emanating from every part of her body and this is coming from the woman who was previously dancing like a chicken. What is outstanding about Pericet is the range she demonstrates within a single piece of choreography. Being humorous does not divert from her more serious moments, but rather adds complexity to her performance. Her musicians added to this range as they have their own fun moments during a bulerias section where they each take turns dancing and encouraging one another; all while Pericet lies perfectly still on the wooden table they surround.
The most profound moment of this show was without a doubt the last piece, where Pericet performed with just a guitarist, Antonia Jimenez. It began with Jimenez performing on stage alone under a spotlight, when she suddenly stops. The audience assumes, that maybe she stopped to tune her guitar, when unexpectedly she pulls out a small mirror in order to re-apply her lipstick. There is no question about it, Jimenez is reminding us all that it is a woman who is playing guitar. It is important to note that traditionally, music was left to the men and it is only later in Flamenco’s history that it became acceptable for a woman to be a guitarist. Pericet enters the stage covered in a black skirt from the waist down, and nude from the waist up. She sits on a wooden chair and begins to move her body to the sound of Jimenez’s guitar. Pericet is revealing a significant association within Flamenco, that this is the relationship between women within the art form. Her body moves seamlessly with Jimenez’s playing as she pulls the black skirt to create different portraits with her body. So much is being said and felt and with so little. That night at the Ford theatre, it seemed as though the whole city was still for a moment, the audience completely silent. You do not get moments like these very often within a performance. The darkness of the trees behind her, the stage was serene as the two women shared an intimate moment through their art. As the evening ended, Pericet now dressed fully, picked up the two wine glasses that had been sitting at the front of the stage, and the two made a toast, acknowledging one another. After a moment like that, I cannot imagine a better finish.
Written by Corrina Roche for LA Dance Chronicle, September 26, 2019.
To visit The Ford Theatres website, click here.
Featured image: Olga Pericet Company in La Espina: The Thorn that Dreamed of Being a Flower or the Flower that Dreamed of Being a Dancer at the Ford Theatres. Photo by Lindsey Best courtesy of The Ford Theatres.