Ah, flamenco. It’s mysterious, powerful, thus alluring. And it is this ancient art, the life blood of Spain, that has opened the 77th Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with a flourish.
This week, two female dance masters — Belen Maya and Rocio Molina — have joined for a program, “Mujeres,” that is exclusive to the Pillow. With a band of live musicians, it includes two premieres — one that adheres to tradition and one that breaks with it.
More interestingly, the program illuminates the differences between these artists — Maya is steel, a no-nonsense figure who commands with her stare. Molina is soft, an enchanting dancer whose fluidity makes her appear like a soothing breeze. Onstage together, they frame each other’s movements with their twisting arms. They rush toward each other and then veer away like a toreador and his bull. And they encourage the musical rhythms with their ringing zapateados and quaking torsos that bend every which way as they circle the stage.
‘Mujeres: Belen Maya and Rocio Molina’
WHERE: Jacob’s Pillow, Route 20, Becket, Mass.
WHEN: 8 p.m. today, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: $58; $53 for seniors and students
MORE INFO: (413) 243-0745 or www.jacobspillow.org
Flamenco is as much a riddle as a way of life. Appropriately, the evening began with Maya, with her back to the audience in silhouette. The stage was dark and smoky. And as the lights rose, the musicians emerged from the shadows. The first thing heard was the haunting voice of Rosario Guerrero (“La Tremendita”). She called to the guitarists (Paco Cruz and Jose Luis Rodriguez) who strummed a quiet fandango for Maya and then Molina. Their introduction was brief, like an encounter with a ghost, but memorable.
And then Maya got down to the business of the evening in her solo, “Seguiriya.” She approached her dance slowly, but with authority. She was a force. Her arms and fingers rose and spiraled around her hips and then head. She turned, staccato, bidding the audience to see the musical rhythms. She was fierce but, at the same time, inviting.
Molina’s solo, “Solea Por Bulerias,” was more seductive. Her posturing was yielding and vulnerable, even as she kicked and flung her head. The curves of her body accentuated her seamless flow. She was womanly beauty personified.
One of the premieres was “Paso a Dos,” in which the two played as if they were dueling on a nightclub dance floor. As they passed each other, they often stopped to flail their snaky arms, in either confrontation or sweet conversation. The dance tried to be intriguing, but it felt contrived.
More successful was “Caracoles,” the other new work. Here, the two wore the traditional bata de cola, the dress with the frilly train. They brought out the other flamenco trappings too — fans and castanets — in a bright and happy duet that ended the evening on a high.
In between, there was a luscious guitar solo, “Alegrias,” performed by Rodriguez. He was an understated player who served the music with impressive and moving devotion.
Together, the dancers and musicians of “Mujeres” inspired spontaneous “olés.” The calls were well-deserved.