Sibling Rivalry

Dos Hermanos with Israel and Pastora Galván. Presented
by the Flamenco Arts Festival. At the Lobero Theatre, Saturday,
September 30.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

Hermanos doesn’t just mean ‘brothers’; it is gender neutral,”
said Flamenco Arts Festival President Alberto Pizano in his
introduction to Dos Hermanos, the performance by brother
and sister, and flamenco innovators, Israel and Pastora Galván.
Israel and Pastora are the children of Jose Galván and Eugenia de
los Reyes — both Seville-based legends of Spanish flamenco. The
Galván siblings started their career with a legacy to live up to,
and they have performed admirably, as evidenced by their virtuosic
Flamenco Festival performance and by the audience’s enthusiastic
response.

Of the two, Pastora is known as the more traditional flamenco
dancer, while Israel is considered the avant-garde innovator. In
performance, they both push the edge of traditional form. Pastora’s
choreography features the strong footwork often favored by male
dancers. Even though Israel and Pastora are seldom on stage
together, they frequently mirror each other’s movements in
alternating performances of “Soleá,” “Fandango,” and “Alegrías.” In
doing so, they blur the lines between traditional male and female
roles.

From the moment Pastora graced the stage, she revealed her edge,
staring with defiance, and shooting smoky glances at the audience.
Most of the time, Pastora danced with typical flamenco seriousness
in her countenance, but there were moments during which this veneer
parted to reveal a mischievous grin. Israel was more overtly
avant-garde, as advertised. His body undulated sinuously as his
back arched, and he completed every piece with flourishing hand
gestures. Israel was a peacock in black, gesticulating with
percussive feet, wearing a smirk as if to say, “Look what flamenco
can do.”

The chemistry between musicians and dancers is a hallmark of
flamenco; the Galváns’ relationship with their musicians was
extraordinary. Pedro Sierra’s guitar-playing filled the
hall — electric, fiery, and dazzling. Singers David Lagos and
Antonio Zúñiga voiced aching laments. Lagos and Zúñiga took turns
partnering Israel and Pastora center stage, interweaving percussive
steps and haunting lyrics. The Lobero crowd wouldn’t let up their
applause until the performers returned for an encore. Watching
Israel and Pastora dance together, the contrast between them
evaporated, leaving only two heartbreakingly beautiful flamenco
dancers. The all-too-brief encore left this reviewer wishing that
Dos Hermanos included more moments when the two danced
together. Even so, the final performance of the festival continued
the annual tradition of showcasing innovation and tradition in
flamenco — stunningly.

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