Here work may be rooted as firmly as any in traditional flamenco but Rocío Molina is known for a very individual artistic language that respects that tradition while equally embracing the contemporary. She’s not afraid of unusual collaborations either, such as Felahikum, a hip hop meets flamenco fiesta by Sébastien Ramirez, in which she performed with Honji Wang.
If you’re looking for the Andalusian bar or café, you won’t find them in Bosque Ardora. There’s no clichéd flamenco here. There’s not much in the way of long frilly dresses either. What you will find among the trees that decorate the stage is some fabulous dancing, music and theatre, though.
Right from the start, Bosque Ardora is beautiful to look at. It opens with a superbly shot film. A flash of movement, then, pursued by a pack of dogs as she flees through the forest on horseback, we see Molina, who eventually falls into the water of a lake. We wake up in a dreamlike forest glade (although which is reality and which is the dream is open to interpretation) given added depth by the gorgeous lighting of Carlos Marqueríe. The wildlife, the dancers and the musicians meet.
As she takes us on an exploration of carnal behaviour and animal instinct, Molina flips seamlessly from hunter to hunted, from victor to captured prey. We see her in a mask as the mythological Teumessian fox that was destined never to be caught, but not that long after as Artemis, goddess of chastity, virginity, the hunt and the natural environment, riding the kneeling bodies of her male partners. Sometimes she seems to be dancing quite deliberately sexily to attract her partners’ attention (most notably in loose white shirt, small leafy branch in mouth, quite literally riding her prey), while at others it is they who are strutting for her. The dance flips too, with hints of butoh, cabaret and out and out contemporary dance at different moments. If anything, there are too many ideas, though, and it is all rather tricky to follow.
Still, just sit back and enjoy. As excellent as partners Eduardo Guerrero and Fernando Jiménez are, it is Molina who always takes the eye. Her dance is as sharp and clean as we have come to expect from international flamenco artists, but it’s also remarkably organic and seems to come from the earth itself. It was unfortunate though, that we couldn’t hear the footwork in particular as cleanly as we might thanks to a dreadful echo coming from the speakers on each side of the stage.
As just to prove, if there was any doubt, that Bosque Ardora is well and truly from the flamenco stable, it ends with a long near-classic soleá from Molina. Or rather almost ends because in the shadows we see one of the men don a strange white costume and take a rifle. Molina dashes across the stage…
Apart from Molina, Guerrero and Jiménez, the supporting band are fabulous. I was particularly taken by the two trombone players, José Vicente Ortega and Agustín Orozco, but let’s not forget Pablo Martín Jones on drums, Eduardo Trassierra on guitar, the palmas of Maria Karolina Gonzalez Martinez (‘La Negra’), and the vocals of José Ángel Carmona. They create the most wonderful atmosphere, occasionally quiet, but often full of the dramatic sounds of the wild.