Paso a Dos y Pisadas

Not my photo - Marco Flores and Olga Pericet from the Sadler's Wells press photos, uncredited.

Not my photo – Marco Flores and Olga Pericet from the Sadler’s Wells press photos, uncredited.

I saw both Pisadas and Paso a Dos from the first circle. Since costume detail, smaller movements, fleeting expressions and other nuances were lost to me I’ve decided to write them in the same post. That said, apart from the fact that the wonderful Olga Pericet was in both, the two productions could not have been more different.

Paso A Dos

Palo by palo, Marco Flores and Olga Pericet expressed two very different personalities and dance styles along with faultless coordination, expressive body movements and a gentle mutual humour. Within the very formal structure of this performance, the two artists have evolved a special type of communication which is at times quite balletic.

My strongest memories are;

  • when, without zapatear, the two dancers slowly circled the cantaor on whom their attention was completely focused. They did this with the same movement vocabulary and with expressive and poetic synchronisation,
  • Pericet prolonged a short silence with a flirtatious desplante, causing laughter from those members of the audience close enough to see her expression (I wasn’t),
  • a period of wonderfully atmospheric vibrato
  • the many ways which two dancers merged from physically separate movements to those where they were physically close (if not touching); part of the pas de deux for which the performance was named.
Not My Photo - Compañía Olga Pericet (c) Paco Villalta

Not My Photo – Compañía Olga Pericet (c) Paco Villalta


I never read the program notes in advance of a performance because I don’t want to be lead by what is written or have my experience framed by the writer’s perception. That’s why it took a while for me to understand that the way the narrative moves (between palos of traditional lyrical dance to performances that, while totally flamenco are surreal, impressionistic and allegorical) represents life’s cyclic nature. By the time I had worked it out, I was reveling in the intellectual challenge while simultaneously responding on a visceral level to the disturbing poetry of the production.

I was too far from the stage to make out what was making the percussion noise at the beginning of the performance (it sounded like kathak-style bells made of wood rather than metal but might have been just coins or even shells) and it took a me while for me to work out that the sounds were being generated from around her waist. I also didn’t know that a dress included a gold coin necklace and material of gold circles over a fabric  the colour of healthy blood until I saw the program image. Both these details were both significant and meaningful in their own rights and because they provided context to the narrative.

Easily the best choreography of the festival, I particularly liked the following things;
– the initial sensuous sexuality of Pericet, and how her dancing body language became colder the closer she and Juan Carlos Lérida got in the seduction scene,
– the mutuality and games of the dancers in the seduction scene as each turned from seduced to seducer with no apparent cause,
– the contrast between challenging metaphor and easy-to-follow narrative,
– the Garrotín
– the use of the salsa rhythm to create musical tension,
– the use of symbolic colours; her dress, his suit of colours you might find on a dappled forest floor and a blood red lining that, from where I was, matched hers.

I feel sorry for the journalist who rushed out after the first surreal scene. The narrative hadn’t yet been clearly established so while she saw some of the performance’s richness, she missed that the changes in style reflected life’s cyclic nature and missed the final part of the work which gave it extra tone and meaning.

This final scene was most moving for me. Like most women, it depicts a state that I identify with. Pericet’s final costume was as much cocoon as wedding dress and her departure from the stage (which, to me, could have represented death, a declaration of freedom or combination of the two), was completely unnoticed by everyone around.

Pisadas was for me absolutely the best choreography in this year’s Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival.