There was so much to celebrate. It was 90 minutes of amazement and wonder as the diminutive bailaora commanded the intimate stage
and captured our hearts as she poured out hers
By Bonnie Rosenstock
To help celebrate Repertorio Español’s 50th anniversary season, the inimitable Olga Pericet returned to New York to gift the Spanish-language theater (138 East 27th Street) with a limited engagement (August 16-September 3) premiere of “Creations of My Repertory,” selected from her award-winning dances. There was so much to celebrate. It was 90 minutes of amazement and wonder as the diminutive bailaora commanded the intimate stage and captured our hearts as she poured out hers.
Pericet was accompanied by the superb cantaores Miguel Lavi and Manuel Gago and the superlative tocaora Antonia Jiménez Arenas. The trio opened the show with “Tanguillos – Guajiras,” rhythms from Andalucía and Flamenco-infused beats from Cuba, respectively. Later, Lavi, singing and on guitar, and Jiménez sat facing each other for a riveting up close and personal “Bulerias.”
For “Abandolaos” Pericet donned a long black and white dress with a ruffled train and an outsized towering flower-laden hat. The Spanish folkloric-inspired slow dance was from “Joyous Dances for Sorrowful People,” which garnered Pericet the 2010 Best New Artist Award at the international Jerez Flamenco Festival. After removing the hat, Pericet, accompanied by the trio and her brilliant castanet work, danced sublimely, as she whipped her train around her body and seemed to float about the stage. Barely perceptible, subtle movements—a shoulder rise, a hip swing, a back arch and bend—made us watch more closely, transfixed. As for those glorious taconeos, fancy flamenco footwork, she is peerless, performing slides, jumps and turns, heel clicks and clacks, traditional and of her own creation.
“Taranto – Tangos,” baile hondo (deep, serious dance), was excerpted from her acclaimed 14-member full-length production, “Pisadas” (Footprints), presented in Madrid in 2015, and pared down by half at New York City Center this past March. For this solo Pericet received Best Dance Performance, 2015 Max Award for the Performing Arts, Spain. This is a women’s dance known for its great sensuality, which Pericet doesn’t hold back. She wore a simple black unitard, which outlined her delicate ribs as she heaved and breathed. She let loose her long damp hair, which was previously tied back in a single braid, and used it as a prop—whipping her head around, letting her head fall forward, her hair embracing her face and flinging it back again, grabbing a handful of hair to spin it about playfully. There were moments of quiet, which built up to mini-climaxes and explosions, almost trance-like footwork and physical ecstasy.
In a simple red dress with layers flowing downward from the waist, she performed “Fandango Por Soleá,” an introspective dance from “The Thorn that Wanted to Be a Flower or The Flower that Dreamt of Being a Dancer,” for which she received Best Production, Cátedra de Flamencología Award, Jerez 2017. It was a restrained yet passionate, “soleares,” or the Romani “solea” meaning loneliness, solitude or homesickness.
For the finale, the lively “Cantinas,” Pericet draped herself in a long floral fringed shawl, which concealed her (different) red dress. She whipped the shawl up, around and over her body, from high to low, finding unique ways to express its flowing beauty. And always, the taconeo.
The powerhouse Córdoba-born Pericet, 41, is still in her prime. She sizzles and smolders effortlessly. She doesn’t need to give the audience sexy sideward glances with upraised eyebrow or nostrils flaring; instead, if she looks at all, she smiles brightly or sees without seeing, relying on her interior vision and instincts to guide her. Her finely honed technique, physicality and passion for the dance communicate all.
For information about other Repertorio Español 50th anniversary productions, visit repertorio.nyc.
Featured image: Pericet, Facebook/repertorionyc
Finale: cia. olga pericet for repertorio español
Award-winning Bonnie Rosenstock wrote for Guidepost back in the 1980s when she lived in Madrid. She’s now with exploredance.com, among other publications in New York. While working for The Villager and Chelsea Now she won three awards from the New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
After years of absence she’s contributing regularly to Guidepost again. To our mag’s delight!