The Purple Reign

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One unforgettable night several weeks ago three Spaniards descended on a bare stage at the CCP Little Theater. They were Eduardo Guerrero, flamenco deity, with his cohorts Manuel Soto, singer, and Javier Ibañez, guitarist.

Those who showed up and bought tickets were in on a terrible secret—a rare performance was about to be held. It was actually a sequel, with Guererro having stormed the RCBC Plaza the previous year.

Before this new spectacle commenced, the Spanish ambassador Jorge Domecq solemnly blessed the occasion, which included him apologizing for the inclement weather.

“When I introduce musical events I feel like the pica-pica before the big dinner,” he said, smiling.

The ambassador continued, “It is through De Dolores and his heart that Eduardo pays tribute to the person who gave him his talent—his grandmother, also a dancer. Many times as I watch, it brings me back to my homeland. Flamenco is undoubtedly an art that connects different cultures.”

He finished his remarks with a suitable quote by Francis Bacon on dance being a measured pace as verse is measured speech.

The CCPs artistic director Chris Millado also spoke, explaining how the Spanish concept of duende is a frenzy induced by passionate dance. The national anthem is played. Then all went black. Shush. No cameras or pictures or cellphones. Guerrero appears shirtless, a long skirt covers his legs. His jet black hair is combed smooth. Deep-set eyes and a hawk-nose add to his smoldering charisma—his angular jaw could slice cheese.

Guerrero is barefoot. A worn pair of shoes sit empty to his left.

A lone spotlight shone on his bronze torso. A monologue oozes from the speakers. His arms move in quick calculated contortions. Guerrero has been training since the age of six. Flamenco is his whole life. He tours constantly. Before Manila he was in Kuala Lumpur

De Dolores is an hour-plus performance in eight distinct parts. Introduccion. Puntales. Tangos. Cabala. Granaina. Lele. Fandango. De Dolores.

The Rapture
For his next routine the 30-year- old Guerrero dons a white shirt that he tucks inside his high-waist trousers, whose legs he unrolls down his ankles. Suspenders and a velvet vest come on, a red sash circles his waist. He then slides his nimble feet inside his heeled shoes and begins to stomp.

When Guerrero snaps his fingers, the sound echoes across the venue. Soto and Ibañez arrive, seat themselves behind Guerrero, and start to play vocals with melody. There are no microphones. Guerrero rhythmically pulverizes the stage with jackhammer flourishes. It’s hypnotic, mesmerizing. His movements are rapid, thunderous. You could hear Guerrero breathe when he pauses. Duende moments begin to occur. Guerrero is rhythmically drilling into the stage with his heels.

As De Dolores reaches its final stretch, the stage is lit red and Guerrero goes wild with no accompaniment. In one climactic sequence he arches his back at an impossible angle. The momentum of his performance burns past an entire hour.

Having spent himself, Guerrero makes a hasty exit, leaving Soto and Ibañez to enjoy a moment of lyrical reflection. They have a lighthearted ballad going. Guerrero reappears in a white shirt with a pink scarf round his neck. Hair combed and re-energized, he joins his colleagues in their improv, bouncing, gliding along to a joyous ditty. In one electrifying sequence the audience claps in rhythm while Soto is almost on the verge of jumping from his seat. In a rare display of humor, Guerrero strips away his scarf and slides it between his legs as he playfully gallops away.

After thunderous applause Soto and Ibañez try dancing. Soto even shakes his tush. Then they also leave.

The trio re-emerge to bask in newfound glory. The room erupts in passionate acclaim.

Print ed: 08/13

 

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