TOWARD THE 2012 MEETING/En Ti. A never seen before flamencoThe gospel told through flamenco? A challenge that Father Emilio Pérez and dancer Luis Ortega have faced and won and that everyone will be able to admire at the Meeting.
By Erika Elleri
“Through this show,” says Father Emiolo Pérez Núñez, director of the project, “I could experiment on how art can attract men to beauty. For this reason, only by trusting in me and coming to the Meeting you can verify this.” We are talking about “En Ti” the show scheduled for August 21 that will tell, through dance and music, the Annunciation, Passion, Death and Resurrection story. Everything is born out of the common passion for flamenco of Father Emilio and Luis Ortega, one of the most important Spanish dancers.
Father Emilio, can you tell us how your passion for this kind of music was born and what does it mean for your life?
The passion for flamenco was born in my family. Then, with time, it fascinated me for the beauty and the strength of its texts, the way in which they describe the fundamental needs of each man’s heart and with which they talk about daily life, in both of which one cannot but immediately identify. There, we can find the wonder for the beauty of a woman, the sea, the sun, the pain for one’s own sins, for injustices, the joy of redemption or of a friendship. Furthermore, I’ve always liked that it is often accompanied by dance and that it is an invitation to use one’s body language.
Mr. Ortega, can you tell us what does this type of dance mean for your life in addition to your profession?
Dance, Spanish dance and flamenco have entered my life as a passion that casually turned into my profession and with time into the gift of life, from God. It has become something vital, my way of living and communicating, well beyond words, something organic which my body and brain are missing every time I have to stop. But it is also something spiritual that places me in another place-time-space and that little by little makes me perceive a different state of mind-body-spirit. It also means wanting to express, tell, and share the sentiments or feelings that reach where words or other forms of expression cannot. I believe it’s something that not even I can control or understand; it’s our being searching for a happiness that wants to be shared.
As you recently stated, flamenco “is born of a people, grows and develops through a people,” but what is its origin? And why do you consider it a kind of music particularly adaptable to blend with other cultures?
Since its origins flamenco is a “mix” of cultures, ethnicities, and traditions. This is how it developed, growing and expanding both in time and space and even today it continues to be an art discipline that is alive and searching for fusion and rest. It is above all a people that shape it; it is the people who create it, develop it, cook it and eat it and this is why it seems so close, because we all are the people. And so we understand it without having to understand it, ever see it or hear it and sooner or later it will get to us, in our genes, unconscious of our consciousness, “in you.”
So, Father Emilio, a friendship with Mr. Ortega resulted in a show…Can you describe us how this came to be?
My friendship with Luis started because I was fascinated when I saw him perform. I met him when he danced in the company of the great ballerina Sara Baras. And when the show ended I waited for him and thanked him and told him that I would have liked to see him once in a while…and this was many years ago. The idea of the show, on the other hand, slowly matured and has two origins: on the one hand, some of the words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI in his meeting with artists, on the other the signs that reality was offering me. Then what happened was that the cardinal of Madrid called me to work in the Culture Department of the 2012 World Youth Day. And so, in one of the early meetings, I heard one of the Pope’s wishes: that in those days Madrid and Spain could demonstrate how faith can become culture. Since the history of singing, dancing, and music is in the Spanish people’s blood, the show wants to be an answer to this provocation. But what made the show possible was the friendship with Luis Ortega.
Mr. Ortega, what is the message you wish you transmit with this show?
I believe that of all the different messages the main one is freedom, the search, reading between the lines of ones’ own work and within oneself in order to be able to get closer to the figure of Christ, his message, but without passing it on with our judgments. We want everyone to be able to meet Him in a personal and non-transferrable way, we want every viewer to interiorly re-elaborate every note, every movement, every act, and every sensation he experiences.
Father Emilio, how is it possible to represent the Gospel and the sentiments of Mary and Jesus in music? And why does this kind of music represent the scenes of the Annunciation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection?
This is the great challenge that I posed to my friend Luis and, as he himself told me, it is impossible to express the content of the whole Gospel; for this reason he thought to recreate through body language, some human feelings felt by Jesus and his mother, the Virgin Mary. I asked him these three scenes because these are the main mysteries of our faith and because we also have experienced them. And so Luis had the audacity to represent all these sentiments through dance.
Mr. Ortega can you give us a preview of how the show is organized choreographically?
The show consists of three acts: “The Annunciation” begins with a choral piece from which a figure is chosen to be immersed in the great mystery of life. With a contemporary fusion flamenco language the dancer shows her confusion, at first, and then the acceptance of such an amazing fact and the joy of the new state. “Passion and death” begins with a dance-prayer in which we are all Him: through different steps and rhythms we would like to represent human and divine feelings similar to those He lived, to make theatrical a drop of sweat, a lament, a nail, a moment of human fear, a suffering for His people more than for himself, an infinite hope that elevates Him to the Father and leads Him into the arms of His Mother. “The Resurrection” is the celebration of joy and life, it is a thanksgiving song for being, staying, sharing, because it leads us from the most organic and earthly aspect to the most intimate and spiritual of each. As a fundamental part of this act there is the pure presence of children, clear symbol of the Resurrection, magic and continuity.
En Ti.A never seen before flamenco