This year’s festival opened with Manuel Liñan’s male dancers exploring their feminine side in what was more than a drag show, and continued with Ana Morales’s frustrating exploration of memory, and now we have Compañía Jesús Carmona’s The Jump billed as an in-depth look at masculinity.
The programme, which credits Nerea Galán in the role of Gender Advisory, further tells us The Jump shows Carmona’s understanding of what kind of society we live in and what we can do to improve it.
If you say so, Señor Carmona…
Not that everything was bad. The company’s near-operatic singer, José Valencia, was very good; as indeed were the live musicians Juan Requena on guitar and Manu Masaedo on percussion. What a pity, then, that we heard so little from them, most of the show having been performed to a punishing recorded electronic racket.
Carmona’s company of six male dancers plus himself, were proficient, blending obvious training in classical Spanish baile with pure flamenco, but seem to have been used exclusively as a foil for Carmona’s heroics. Carmona sure knows his flamenco, pity about his clumsy choreography.
On the minus side, most of it didn’t make any sense at all, and if there was a narrative, if got lost in the telling.
The Jump (by the way, what jump?) started with the dancers in long pink skirts turning and turning in an embarrassingly pale imitation of Sufi dervishes, before removing the skirts and twirling them around a bit like matador capes.
Following a brief blackout the lights revealed the black-clad figure of Carmona demonstrating the characteristics of male dancing, as enumerated by the singer: respect for aesthetics and style; sobriety; wrists moving from the inside out; immobile hips.
So far, so good. From then on, though, the show develops into a jumble of incomprehensible ideas. Chairs are brought on and moved around, with dancers sitting and standing to stamp their feet and clap their hands.
Another section takes place in front of a billowing white curtain, which brings a measure of visual relief from the costumes' uniformly drab grey palette.
There’s supposed to be a lot of testosterone flying about, with the men simulating competition and fighting, but it feels rather synthetic.
And to end, everybody gets stark naked and forms a pile of bodies upstage. Might that be Carmona’s understanding of what we can do to improve society?
That this show was co-produced by Sadler’s Wells is a little worrying. Of course, like all art forms flamenco should move with the times and artists are entitled to push its boundaries in search of something that speaks to contemporary concerns. But The Jump, I would argue, is not the way to go.
|What||Compañía Jesús Carmona, The Jump review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
28 Jun 22 – 29 Jun 22, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 30 mins no interval
|Price||£15-£55 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|