Fans of bullfighting argue that their tradition is full of grace and artistry and in the hands of Gelabert Azzopardi, they’d be right. Belmonte, a contemporary dance piece inspired by the legendary bullfighter of the same name was first performed in Barcelona back in 1988 and it’s been resurrected to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary.
Few places in the world have a more exciting or innovative contemporary dance scene than Catalunya and it’s thanks in part to Cesc Gelabert (pictured). The man moves like cream being poured over a spoon and his capacity for finding authenticity in both movement and interpretation is second to none.
Belmonte, one of the most emblematic works in Spanish dance, seeks to reinterpret the world of bullfighting using choreography, cinematography and music. Torero Juan Belmonte, was a god in his native Seville and he’s depicted here in black and white archive footage which flickers behind the dancers as they move. Killing his first bull in 1910 and once fighting 109 corridas in a single season, he was famed for his extraordinary technique and unmatched daring.
Gelabert plays with this, the artistry, in his choreography. Unlike other matadors who pranced and danced far from the bull’s horns, Belmonte stood tall and motionless, mere inches away from his prey. Spectators would watch with hearts in mouths, particularly after he was famously gored through the chest and pinned against a wall under the watchful gaze of the royal family. Here, bare-chested dancers play the charging bulls and Gelabert the bullfighter, who taunts them with lizard-like flicks of his arms.
For this show, Lydia Azzopardi returns to the stage, after many years devoting herself to costume design, while the Banda Municipal de Barcelona provide live music.
All in all, it’s one hell of a way for Teatre Lliure to open their autumn season. Watch and learn world, this is how Catalunya does bullfighting in 2010.
September 16th to 26th