The festival kicked off with a joyful, iconoclastic exploration of femininity by the all-male Compañía Manuel Liñán, bringing drag to a cultural expression of traditional masculinity; and continued with a one-off look at death and memory, Without Permission: Songs for Silence by Compañía Ana Morales.
But while Liñán’s daring show hit all the marks, Morales’s 2018 Without Permission, the winner of no less than four awards in Spain, was as opaque as its very title. The bailaora’s stated aim was to dive into the memory of her father, a Sevillan dancer who emigrated to Catalonia, and re-evaluate her relationship with Andalucia and flamenco, addressing memories and exorcising them.
What she came up with is a fragmentary, often frustrating show, where her own interior journey rarely transcends the limits of the stage, so that we’re left guessing what may be going on.
It starts with a drums set upstage left where Javier Rabadan beats a rhythm to which Ana Morales, wearing a flesh-coloured leotard and darker, tasselled tights, slowly walks across the stage carrying in one hand a man’s overcoat, in the other a pale pink flamenco dress, a bata de cola.
It’s a long drawn-out walk which will eventually lead her to place the coat on a hanger suspended at the back, from which, we sense, the spirit of her dead father will observe proceedings until the very end when Morales puts the coat on and mimics some of his habits: smoking a cigarette, casting a fishing line.
There is a lot of dressing and undressing in this 80-minute show. Morales will wear a slip, the bata de cola and even the jacket and trousers of her dancing partner, José Manuel Álvarez, who’s left looking slightly ridiculous in his shorts and socks protruding from his ankle boots.
Ana Morales is a competent dancer, but not an exceptional one; with very short bursts of zapateado dotted between long sequences of not much happening, it’s hard to assess how good she really can be.
What is beyond doubt, though, is the quality of her ensemble. Tall, rangy and elegant José Manuel Álvarez is a very good dancer; and the trio of musicians, Javier Rabadan on drums and electronic music, Juan António Suarez ‘Canito’ on guitar and particularly the soulful, totally enthralling veteran singer Juan José Amador, bring the full power of Andalucia to Sadler's Wells.
|What||Compañía Ana Morales, Without Permission review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
On 23 Jun 22, 19:30 Dur.: 80 mins approx no interval
|Price||£15-£65 (+booking fee|