Rocío Molina adds a demonic paganism to the canon of flamenco. While extending the furious footwork, flaying arms, flying hair and bravado of the form she ventures into themes that allow the genre to breathe in new ways. Passion personified, she pushes the envelope taking risks yet respecting the genre that she rebels within to explore the core of what the body can reveal and viscerally express. A charismatic master of her craft her cause is to thrust it in new directions rather than move outside of it. Whatever it takes to achieve this transformation is exploited, and her work is alive with cross-referencing to theatre, literature, philosophy, film, fashion and design. She opens the flamenco space to multiple possibilities fusing stylized dance with startling naturalism that threads an emboldened tightrope of emotion between the stage and the audience.
Astride a horse, rifle in hand, racing through the forest she pursues her prey. Falling into the water, she emerges centre stage as if stepping out of the film – she is present having established the theme of the hunt and the hunted. Setting the choreography amongst real trees and fallen leaves ritualizes the performance. The forest glade is ripe for a gamut of sexual games, danger and risk. Fantasy counterpoints realities while shadows send shivers of fear and the shimmering leaves invite expectation. The atmosphere is a tantalizing mix of poetry and depravity.
Alternating between Grecian goddess, a mythological masked vixen and a seductive woman Molina dances an effigy of moments with two male performers and an excellent band of musicians who are integral to the performance. Familiar physical features like spins with the arms above the head; hammering footwork, and swirling skirt accents are juxtaposed with unexpected isolations of the arms as elbows crook and wrists flick in a wave of movement. A memorable scene finds her dancing in a man’s shirt and stilettos redolent with lustful pleasure emanating through the pores of her skin and the soles of her feet. Finally, staggering like a drunk, she is funny, endearing and theatrical. Crawling on all fours, in another instant, she is passing an orange from her lips to one of the men – a temptress stalking her prey and rejoicing in her domination.
Images collage and tumble as the spectrum of Molina’s repertoire moves from flamenco to dance theatre, from burlesque to contemporary. A hyper-intense performer who leaves her heart on the floor the evening winds to a frenzied solo in a traditional style flamenco dress. The green tones merge with the forest trees as she shows why she is an award-winning exponent. While fans of the artform might revel in the virtuosity of the lengthy solo, it distilled the imagery of the performance, and the weakened the innovative intention. Throughout the show, a ritualistic cape made of straw hangs ominously over the stage and is used in a final moment that sees a dancer put it on. In an incongruous twist, a hunter emerges from the trees, fires, and kills. Bosque Ardora has come full circle and the surreal, dreamlike atmosphere is shattered.