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The figure of dancer Antonio Ruiz Soler is still relevant to the current generation of artists as he is a symbol of creativity, thoroughness, and charisma. As part of the activities prepared to celebrate the centenary of his birth, the Ballet Nacional de España has devoted the second title of its didactic interactive collection ‘#BNEnoscuenta’ to its former director (1980 to 1983).

The goal of the Antonio Ruiz Soler para jóvenes booklet is to inform young people about his life and artistic career through new technologies. So, it has several audiovisual and virtual reality contents that are accessible via the application #BNEnoscuenta, including 3D animations of Antonio el Bailarín performing three of his most famous choreographies. There is a printed version and also a pdf version that can be downloaded for free on the website of the Ballet Nacional de España (at the end of this article). The project has the collaboration of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the support of Acción Cultural Española (AC/E).

“Antonio has a very special place in Spanish dance”, explains Belén Moreno, head of Patronage, Learning Activities and Public Relations of the Ballet Nacional de España. “Our aim with this publication is that today’s generations have a clear idea of what Antonio el Bailarín meant. He was not only an extraordinary dancer but also a renowned choreographer. Along with Antonia Mercé, la Argentinita or Carmen Amaya, he brought Spanish dance to light on international stages”, added Elna Matamoros, ballet mistress of the Ballet Nacional de España and author of the text. “It is aimed at everybody. Those who already knew about him will probably learn things they didn’t know”, Belén Moreno concluded.

The text, which goes over his biography and artistic career, comes with images by photographer Juan Gyenes, a prominent witness of the social and artistic life in 1950s and 60s Spain. It includes both photos taken in a studio and on the stage in addition to private pictures of his journeys and tours. Through the QR code included in the booklet, or directly from Google Play and App Store, readers can download the application #BNEnoscuenta to watch videos of Antonio Ruiz Soler’s choreographies performed by the Ballet Nacional de España: El sombrero de tres picos (Farruca del molinero), La taberna del toro (Taranto), and Zapateado.

Also, through augmented reality young people can watch Antonio el Bailarín dancing on their mobile devices. Instead of black and white images of his performances, 3D animations of three of his choreographies have been developed purposefully for this publication: Martinete, Zapateado (Bis) and Sonatas (variation).

For the 3D design of the characters, the UI design, and the creation of the mobile application we have counted on the studio The Role, and the collaboration of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). The University lent the movement capturing suit to record the steps of two Ballet Nacional de España dancers: José Manuel Benítez and Cristian García, in order to bring to life the animated figure of Antonio Ruiz Soler. Principal dancer Francisco Velasco lent his voice and features to another animated character who introduces Antonio Ruiz Soler. Also, repetiteur mistress Maribel Gallardo, recorded the castanets that are played in Sonatas, while first artist Sergio García gave his advice in the process of correcting the movement of the animated figure so that it fitted the dance as much as possible.

The project has been coordinated by UCM lecturer Alejandro Romero, who led a team of young talents in augmented reality and mobile applications. Although the 3D animations were specifically created for the booklet Antonio Ruiz Soler para jóvenes, the #BNEnoscuenta app was launched in 2020 with the first interactive book on escuela bolera. The new version of the app has a simpler interface and gives access to the contents of both titles. The latter will have an easy-to-read version for cognitive accessibility in the near future.

BNE Learning Project
With a print run of 2,000 copies, Antonio Ruiz Soler para jóvenes will be handed out to children and young people attending the workshops organised by the Ballet Nacional de España. The first to enjoy this publication were the children aged from 8 to 12 who attended the three workshops organised in associations in Seville where cultural projects were started as tools for social reinsertion. These initiatives, included in the Ballet Nacional de España learning project, were held from 11 to 13 April at the Centro San Miguel del Barrio del Castillo de Alcalá de Guadaira, la Fundación Alalá del Polígono Sur in Seville and the Centro Cívico Torreblanca in Seville. This was the third time the workshops were held outside Madrid after they were presented in March 2020 in different schools in Jerez (Cádiz), when the Ballet Nacional de España performed at the Festival de Jerez.

With this publication, the Ballet Nacional de España acknowledges the legacy Antonio el Bailarín left to Spanish dance, conveying his essence to those who did not know him. Although he only directed it for three years, Antonio Ruiz Soler is still very much alive in the company. Directors after him continue to perform his shows. Three of his most emblematic pieces are included in Centenario Antonio Ruiz Soler, which the Ballet Nacional de España, directed by Rubén Olmo, is performing on 15 and 16 April at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville.